A financial award for entrepreneurial business students at Memorial University is transforming the lives of recipients.
The James R. Pearcey Award for Entrepreneurship, established in 2008 by Wade Dawe (B.Comm.(Co-op.)’92) in memory of Mr. Pearcey, a civil engineering graduate from Memorial and Mr. Dawe’s late brother-in-law. The award provides $10,000 annually to entrepreneurial students.
Alex Stead received the award in 2014, which she calls “life-changing.”
“I was 21, and I was pursuing my dream of being an entrepreneur and professional photographer while a full-time student,” she said. “The funds gave me the ability to breathe. It was in large part to this award that I was able to pursue my business and remain debt-free throughout my education. I had the safety net that I needed to take some big risks, and it has paid off a hundred times over.”
Ms. Stead now works as a full-time commercial and wedding photographer and teaches photography classes across the province while also continuing her studies in business administration. Her work has been featured in Maclean’s, Reader’s Digest, Global, CBC and more. Recently, she was named one of the top wedding photographers in St. John’s by the online rating site, Three Best Rated.
She says the award itself made her feel like she was moving in the right direction.
“Being told that your business plan is worthy of recognition did a lot for me as a young person who was always fearful that I was making the wrong choices. I felt like everything that I had been saying and working towards for years was being seen and heard, and it had a snowball effect on my confidence.”
Paying it forward
Mr. Dawe says he established the award as a way to pay it forward while also encouraging entrepreneurship in Memorial students.
“While in my program at Memorial, I received a scholarship in recognition of my entrepreneurial activities and pursuits,” he said. “Receiving that award was inspiring and had a positive impact on me so, years later, when I was in a position to do so, I established and funded a scholarship for young, aspiring student entrepreneurs.”
Students may apply for the award in two ways: by submitting a business plan or through an essay outlining their entrepreneurship activities (a business plan is preferred). Applications must be submitted in hard copy to the Faculty of Business Administration’s Academic Programs Office in BN-1015. Only business students are eligible.
The deadline to apply is Monday, Feb. 10.
“I believe new businesses and entrepreneurs will continue to be an important economic engine for Newfoundland and Labrador and the region, now and in the future,” said Mr. Dawe. “Today, there are compelling opportunities for startups and young entrepreneurs. I established and funded the scholarship to help promote and foster entrepreneurship as an attractive career path.”
‘Doing something right’
Chris Dunne (B.Comm.(Co-op.)’12) was one of three recipients of the award in 2011.
Along with classmate and co-recipient Adam Puddicombe, Mr. Dunne was running Rock Solid Media, a web design and digital marketing business.
“Winning the James R. Pearcey Award provided the validity that we can really do this and that we’re doing something right,” he said. “When I received the letter, it really was that moment where I realized I had what it took to be an entrepreneur.”
Mr. Dunne has continued his entrepreneurial efforts while working simultaneously in a variety of marketing and sales roles since graduating from Memorial.
Mr. Dunne and Mr. Puddicombe continued Rock Solid Media until 2013, before launching the website Sports Business Canada. In 2014 he founded Brews, Bowls and Charity Goals, a charity lawn bowling event that raised up to $20,000 annually for Young Adult Cancer Canada and led to him being named the Aidan Maloney Young Professional of the Year by the Northwest Rotary Club.
“My time at Memorial played a huge role in allowing my entrepreneurial journey to develop.”
In 2015 he was the first person from Newfoundland and Labrador to be named one of the Top 30 Under 30 by Marketing Magazine, which led to him landing a gig at a marketing agency in Toronto. From there, he moved to the Canadian Hockey League as national account director.
In 2019 Mr. Dunne launched Condo Cook, a catering company featuring authentic Newfoundland and Labrador cuisine, in Toronto. He’s also part of Food Network Canada’s new reality show, Wall of Chefs.
“My time at Memorial played a huge role in allowing my entrepreneurial journey to develop,” said Mr. Dunne. “While there were some bumps in the road, the level of support for entrepreneurship received from professors, Enactus Memorial and Genesis was incredible, and it gave me the confidence to know it’s a path I can succeed in full time when the time is right.”
For more information about the James R. Pearcey Award in Entrepreneurship, visit here.