Inspiring story of Nicollette Lewis, a social entrepreneur out of ASU that made her own personal loss a starting point to solve a difficult social issue — that of kids ‘aging’ out of foster care at 18 and being unprepared for independence and adulthood. From ASU:
The idea for the program grew out of an assignment from a leadership action course at the W. P Carey School of Business, in which Lewis and Nathan were asked to present their ideas on how to take action in the community. After solidifying their ideas and coming up with a business plan, Nathan and Lewis went on to enter and win the spring 2011 Innovation Challenge.
For Lewis, the cause holds special meaning, as she became an orphan after losing both her parents by age 15. Although fortunate enough to live with family members, Lewis says was still forced to grow up quickly at a young age.
“I didn’t know how to navigate the legal system to receive social security benefits and how that fits into paying for college,” Lewis said. “There are a lot of other kids who are in that same situation where their needs get ignored because they don’t have the state looking out for them to help with the things that parents would normally do.”
After visiting ASU while in high school, Lewis said she immediately gravitated to the business management degree from the W. P. Carey School of Business. After four years of hard work, she received her bachelor’s degree in December.
For now, Lewis is enjoying dedicating all of her energy to Partnered for Success and the youth in her program. In the future, however, she dreams of traveling to India to study religion and spirituality, while simultaneously donating her time working in a boarding school in the Himalaya Mountains.
And although she misses her family, Lewis says their words of wisdom will always stay with her.
“My parents instilled a lot of great values in me while I had them. I know they wouldn’t want me to mope and let the negative aspects of everything overcome my life,” said Lewis. “I may as well turn this tragedy into something that I can use to benefit other kids facing similar situations.”
Pretty amazing and another really interesting entrepreneurial story coming out of ASU — the New American University.