When Michaela Epifano wanted CBU students to have a place to develop their entrepreneurial spirit and create positive changes in their community, she found the perfect opportunity in Enactus. Enactus is an international not for profit organization comprised of student, academic and business leaders with a shared vision of creating a better, more sustainable world. Michaela heard about Enactus from CBU Alumna and CBRM Communication & Information Officer, Jillian Moore, who was overseeing Michaela in a summer job placement. During her own time at CBU, Jillian was the President of the Enactus chapter on campus. “Jillian spoke with such passion and enthusiasm that it was contagious,” says Michaela. “She inspired me to take the necessary steps to bring Enactus back to CBU.” Michaela, who is currently in her final year of the Bachelor of Arts program, teamed up with her close friend Brooklyn in the summer of 2018, and the pair began to lay the foundation for a successful CBU Enactus group. “We started by having meetings with Nagy, the Executive Vice President of the CBU Students’ Union, who was thrilled,” says Michaela. “Then we spoke to George Karaphillis, Dean of the Shannon School of Business, who gave us full support and encouraged us to move forward with passion.”
Feeling supported and empowered, Michaela and Brooklyn began recruiting keen and driven students to their team, which has since grown to 34 members. So what exactly do members of the CBU Enactus team do? As Michaela explains, their goal is to create and run empowering projects that tackle economic, social and environmental issues in the community. The student group meets bi-weekly to discuss their ongoing projects, pitch new ideas, brainstorm fundraising efforts and assess current needs in the community. This year, the CBU Enactus Team ran three projects. In 12 Days of Local the students interviewed 12 locally owned businesses in the CBRM and promoted the videos on social media to encourage shopping close to home at Christmas. Their Green Project was aimed at making campus greener by eliminating single-use plastics and encouraging reusable products on campus, and lastly their Media Crash Course taught first-year business students basic graphic design and social media marketing skills.
On March 17 and 18, members of the CBU Enactus team will be presenting these projects at the Enactus Regional Competition in Halifax, where teams from across Atlantic Canada present their success projects annually, striving for cash rewards, project recognition and individual scholarships. “Representing CBU at competitions such as this builds our reputation as a university,” says Michaela. “It shows that our students want to make a serious difference and improve Cape Breton Island. So many people say that Cape Breton doesn’t have enough opportunity; we’re going to change that.” As the CBU Enactus team has grown, Michaela says her personal goals have taken shape alongside it. She discovered a passion for making positive changes in her community, and uses her newly developed skills and confidence to lead others to do the same. “I want to do incredible things,” says Michaela. “Not because I want my name to be remembered, but because I want young people to look at me and know that if I, a small town girl with big dreams can do this, anyone who holds enough passion in their heart can too.” As Michaela nears graduation, she is sad to leave the CBU Enactus Team behind, but knows that it will continue to flourish. She says Enactus has prepared her for her future in countless ways, taking her from a timid girl in the back of a classroom to a woman who is front and centre, ready to take on anything life throws at her. If you are interested in joining the CBU Enactus team or learning more, their next meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 19, at 5:30pm in the Multipurpose Room. You can also send them a message on their Facebook Page.