In addition to editor-in-chief of the school yearbook, varsity softball outfielder, French Club president and class of 2016 historian, Devon Bortz can add another line to her résumé.
The 17-year-old high school senior at Maggie Walker Regional Governor’s School was among 24 people named this week to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Council on Youth Entrepreneurship. The body, formed last month, is tasked with helping the state develop a strategy to support its next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. The council will meet this fall and issue recommendations in December.
Devon’s mother, Beth, encouraged her to apply for a spot on the council. Somehow, Bortz will juggle the commitment with her schoolwork (two dual-enrollment courses at Virginia Commonwealth University; three Advanced Placement courses; two languages), an internship with Virginia Business magazine and college applications (she’s narrowed it down to seven schools, including the University of Richmond).
When we caught up with her Tuesday afternoon, she said she relished the opportunity.
The following is an edited transcript
RM: How did your personal interest in entrepreneurship take shape?
DB: I’ve always wanted to start my own business or get involved in business. When I heard about the governor’s council, I thought I could provide a really good perspective that they wouldn’t typically have. I thought it would be a really good fit, especially because they’re looking to strengthen the innovation system in the colleges and universities in the state.
RM: What are your initial ideas for how Virginia can better support young, creative, business-minded people?
DB: Education in the classroom is the first step. I think that’s something the council is really going to focus on, especially in colleges and the K-12 system. At Maggie Walker, so many of my classmates have great ideas, have lots of potential, want to start their own businesses or companies, but really don’t have any means to carry out their ideas or projects. I think that could be something to really get started on with the council, bringing business education into public schools … you don’t really learn about it. My internship was one of the first opportunities I had to learn about it. There’s not really a system in place for encouraging business and entrepreneurship.
RM: What do you think separates a successful young entrepreneur from an unsuccessful one?
DB: I think every young entrepreneur has the power and the potential to be successful, but if we create a better system, everyone will have a better chance of having success.