Equitech Tuesday #119: The Impact -- And A Legacy -- Of Student Entrepreneurship

A Legacy

When I first arrived in Baltimore to assume my role at UpSurge, I was a young founder with no idea of where I was going next with my business or how I was going to get there.


--Naomi Watson, UpSurge Baltimore

Now, after being here for more than a year, there is no doubt that Baltimore has given me a renewed sense of community, purpose, and intentionality, not only in how I am able to grow my own venture, but how I am able to support the growth of others. All of this is reflective, not only of the city of Baltimore, but of the incredible Equitech Community that has welcomed, loved, and guided me since coming into this ecosystem.

One of my biggest supporters and one of the most powerful forces in ecosystem building that I have ever met was my beloved friend Pava LaPere, co-founder and CEO of EcoMap. We tragically lost Pava last week, but her life’s work and legacy will be carried forward by me and so many of us that she poured her heart and knowledge into. Pava’s influence during her time at Johns Hopkins inspired the launch of the student entrepreneurship programs that have impacted 1000s of students. She was a bright light in my life and a leader for the Baltimore tech community. Pava believed that there was so much potential in Baltimore and the students that come in through our educational institutions. She, herself, was proof.

I, like Pava, am inspired and empowered by the talent that exists in our institutions, especially as a proud HBCU graduate. I started my first venture in 2019 while attending Xavier University of Louisiana and later graduated in May 2021. It was there at Xavier that I understood what was possible, not only for my life but for the lives of others that I could influence through the power of entrepreneurship. I was taught to go to college in order to get a good job and provide for my family. It was through entrepreneurship that I learned going to college could prepare me for so much more. It taught me that I can provide for myself and that innovation can make the world around me better. It helped me create opportunities for others to find purpose in the work that they do every day. I am continuously inspired and empowered by the vision and sense of legacy that my HBCU instilled in me.

This Equitech Tuesday, we come together with our partners, Breaking the Ice, Morgan State University, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at UMD, and Venture For America, to highlight the importance of student entrepreneurship, the impact that our HBCUs make in the lives of Black and Brown students, and showcase the embodiment of Pava’s gift of nurturing the next generation of founders. We are reminded of the potential for greatness that lies in every young entrepreneur. We come together to honor Pava’s legacy of student entrepreneurship. College can absolutely prepare you to get a job, but it can also teach you how to create forward progress, social change, as well as jobs and opportunities for others.

Join us tomorrow October 3rd, for a special and intentional Equitech Tuesday at Dream Mega Lounge (10 S Calvert St, Baltimore, MD 21201) to celebrate those doing the work to support student innovation and entrepreneurship.