ST GEORGE, Utah — For Utah State University senior Ellie Boren, it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, and one she feared might have been put on hold too long. Boren — a marketing and strategy major in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business — traveled to Ghana to teach entrepreneurship courses as part of the school’s Small Enterprise Education and Development (SEED) international internship experience.
“The SEED program has you teach business classes to people abroad to help them with their finances and their businesses,” Boren said. “You help them get out of poverty by being self-reliant. I thought it was such a cool opportunity to live somewhere new and also give back and share the knowledge I’ve learned in my business classes. It was super fulfilling.”
Boren first learned about the SEED program as a freshman. She would later apply and be accepted into the program, with her departure date set for summer of 2020. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, that trip was cancelled. Boren was worried that she would not get her chance. But when the program came back in 2022, Boren was glad she still qualified.
“I am so grateful that I was still in school and could go, because it really was the highlight of my college career,” she said. “It is something I will never forget and something I couldn’t have experienced without USU. I’m so grateful to the people who make this internship program possible, because it really did change my life.”
Boren and her husband traveled to Ghana for three months in the fall 2022. During that time, she taught business classes and also had individual clients. In total, Boren estimates she had more than 20 individual clients and taught more than 150 people in her classes. She saw people take what they learned and effect changes in their lives. Boren had one client that particularly stood out.
“She sold plastic bags to street vendors,” Boren said. “She saw there was a need in that market because everyone was selling stuff, but no one was selling something to hold those things. She didn’t have a background in business, and I don’t think she was even a high school graduate. But she had a brilliant mind, and she took all the lessons that we were teaching to heart and grew so much. She was able to increase her income by quite a bit and increase her customer base, which was awesome. She was a dream client, just seeing the growth of her business and how positive she was and how far that took her.”
After spending her first two years at the main campus in Logan, Boren has since been going to school at USU with online courses via USU Southwest. She has loved the quality of education she continues to receive at Statewide Campuses. Boren is set to graduate in May 2023.
“I’ve had a great experience at USU Southwest,” she said. “My first two years of college were in Logan, so I had both experiences, and it has been cool to experience both. Statewide has given me more flexibility but I still have been able to continue my education that I started in Logan, which has been awesome. The quality of education I am receiving now is just as good.”
Looking ahead, Boren is excited for her future in business. Her experience in Ghana cemented her love for working with small businesses and entrepreneurs and hopes to continue that work in some form.
“I love working with new companies or smaller companies, which is why I thought it was awesome to do this internship, because that’s all I did,” Boren said. “My long-term goal would be to be a brand or business consultant to help smaller businesses solidify their brand and know how to reach their customers and target audience. I want to be a source for helping them understand their analytics and to set up all their different strategies.”
With locations in Beaver, Bicknell, Cedar City, Delta, Ephraim, Junction, Kanab, Nephi, Panguitch, Richfield, and St. George, Utah State University provides higher education access to rural communities via USU Southwest. With degree options ranging from associate to doctorate degrees and technical education opportunities, USU offers programs that help fuel local economies and empower individuals and their communities. Learn more at southwest.usu.edu.
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