PEMBROKE — As James Freeman was mulling over a keynote speaker for the upcoming Entrepreneurship Summit, Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis came to mind.
Not for his play on the football field, but for his work off the field.
Davis, who competed in Super Bowl 50, has made a difference in the lives of hundreds of youth through “The Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation.”
The free event will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 7 at the Givens Performing Arts Center. The lobby will be filled with informational booths from several student organizations and local businesses.
“We are very excited about the energy surrounding this year’s summit and that the Public Schools of Robeson County are participating, as we all know you are never too young to start chasing the dream,” said Dr. Cammie Hunt, associate vice chancellor for Engaged Outreach.
The summit is one of several featured events being held during Installation Week on campus. The installation ceremony for Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings will be held at 3 p.m. at the Givens Performing Arts Center on April 8.
“This year’s summit ‘Creating Opportunities for Yourself’ will showcase previous clients of the TFCE and other speakers that will highlight the message that anyone can be an entrepreneur, you just have to harness the energy within yourself and then seek out other resources that are available to help you succeed,” Hunt added.
The event is sponsored by the Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship.
“The TFCE was established in 2006, thanks to a generous gift from the Thomas Family Foundation with the mission to stimulate entrepreneurial thinking amongst the UNCP student body and support entrepreneurs and new ventures in Southeastern North Carolina,” Hunt explained.
James Freeman, who serves as executive entrepreneur in residence at the Entrepreneurship Incubator, said he is very excited to have Davis as the keynote speaker.
“To have someone of his stature in our town is wonderful,” Freeman said. “He has an inspiring story and a great foundation helping the youth in Charlotte.”
Davis and his wife, Kelly, started the foundation in 2007. Each year, the foundation sponsors a book bag drive, leadership academy, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas toy drive and a youth football camp.
Davis — named the 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year and recipient of the 2016 Bart Starr Award — will make an appearance during the Speakers Series portion of the summit.
Other speakers will include Rowland native and former NFL pro Vonta Leach. Leach was a member of the Baltimore Raven’s 2012 Super Bowl championship team. He played nine years in the league.
Michael Robinson, a former UNCP basketball player and UNCP alumnus, will also speak. Robinson and his brother, Christopher Megginson, own Carolina’s Vineyard and Hops in Winston-Salem.
A new addition to the summit this year is the Battle of the Business competition, featuring Career-Technical Education students from Robeson County’s eight high schools. A team of students will be judged on a poster board they design which will include a business idea that will socially impact their community. Cash prizes will be awarded.
“We want to get high school students involved on campus,” Freeman said. “We want to help facilitate their dreams and let them know that UNC Pembroke is here to to support their ideas. We want to get involved with the students in the spirit of innovation through partnership and collaboration.”
For information about the 2016 Entrepreneurship Summit, call 910-775-4208 or visit www.uncp.edu.ttce.