Emily and Nick

At the University of Michigan, students are presented with near limitless opportunities to forge their own path, and determine the course of their academic experience. Along the way, friendships and relationships are discovered and cultivated into larger communities. This can especially be seen in the stories of Nick Cassar and Emily Tumminia, as they discovered both a spark for entrepreneurship, and each other, through U-M’s Center for Entrepreneurship. 

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Nick, a junior economics major, was born into a family of lawyers, but never felt a passion for legal studies like his parents. Throughout high school, Nick and his brother would invent service-centered businesses, like logo design firms as a hobby; Yet his early experiences with entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial practice always seemed more like a dream than an end-goal. “Before college, entrepreneurship seemed like a fairytale,” He explained. 

Emily’s first impressions of a future in Entrepreneurship are similar. When asked about her first experiences, she did not always know entrepreneurship was for her, but as her academic career progressed, she “started to see herself as an entrepreneur and thought this was something [she] could do with her future.”

When both Nick and Emily took their first course with the CFE, their previous perception of entrepreneurship being exclusively for elite think-tanks and hypercompetitive artificial environments, changed completely. 

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“After the first week of E-Hour I was able to directly ask questions and engage in conversations with amazing entrepreneurs,” she said. “ I loved E-Hour so much that I became an Instructional Aide for it the following school year.” 

E-Hour was not only her first step on the path of entrepreneurship, but she also met a close friend, and her future boyfriend, Nick. 

These influential experiences with E-Hour and the high-engagement teaching style of the CFE prompted both Nick and Emily to continue their developing passion for entrepreneurship in Portugal, an opportunity open to all students through the CFE’s ENTR Abroad offering. 

Working with the European Innovation Academy in Cascais, Portugal was an eye-opening experience. The ultimate goal of this fast-paced program is for students to go from an idea to a tech start-up in three weeks, and afford deep insight into the real life start-up process. 

The students were “young entrepreneurs and people full of motivation, wanting to be involved in a start-up. It was a competitive yet collaborative atmosphere where everyone present is at the same stage of life,” Nick recalled. 

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Nick was part of a team developing a solution for employee absenteeism, and Emily worked on an online educational platform to connect students with peers and teachers around the world in real time. Each of their start-up projects tackled a very real problem in everyday life, and with the right amount of hard work and dedication, these apps could be launched to the consumer market. This kind of experiential learning is the fundamental basis for students of all majors working with the CFE. 

The skills acquired from both the Portugal study abroad program and their other experiences in Entrepreneurship have prepared them for their future internships and professional aspirations. 

This summer Nick will be working with Grainger Chicago as a financial analyst, and Emily plans to work at Anheuser Busch as a Global Management Trainee, though she aspires to found her own company one day. While they both began their academic career believing entrepreneurship to be a far-fetched concept, it is now a cornerstone of their college experience and a platform for their promising careers.