From the open-door policy to its 20,000-square-foot innovation space and business plan competitions, Lassonde Studios has given every student a platform to live, eat and breathe creativity in its first year. Aside from being named one of Architectural Digest’s “nine best new university buildings around the world,” and for other awards in between, the institute pushes students toward academic and entrepreneurial success.
From the time of its dedication, Lassonde Studios has facilitated a space for students to form relationships, collaborate and be recognized for their achievements. Not only has it created a positive experience for students, but it has had the same effect on the faculty and staff who have dedicated their time to making these opportunities possible. Thad Kelling, the marketing and public relations manager for the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, said it has played a vital part in teacher networking.
“We are constantly reaching out to students across campus from every college and department,” Kelling said. “Everything we do is interdisciplinary. It’s important that students learn how to work across disciplines, and that is often necessary to develop a project or idea.”
JoCee Porter is one of the more than 400 students living at Lassonde. She runs a company called Celebrate Everyday, which provides women across the state with free formal dresses for special occasions. In the past, Porter has partnered with the Tim Tebow Foundation and Genesis Project to provide dresses for a special needs prom. With her business on the rise, she feels nothing but gratitude toward Lassonde as it played a crucial role in teaching her what she knows about running a business today.
“Living at Lassonde helped me … see the vision of what Celebrate Everyday could be and the steps needed to get there,” Porter said. “I have been able to attend many workshops and lectures, talk to business professionals and was introduced to many of the student entrepreneurs who were also starting companies that I could talk to, bounce ideas off of and learn from.”
Being a resident at Lassonde has given Porter, along with many other students, lifelong friends who support their ideas. Porter said that the co-founder of her next venture will probably be from Lassonde.
“I receive support and advice from so many other student entrepreneurs,” Porter said. “I go to these people for help and advice whenever I make a large business decision, and I have spent many nights up late discussing business strategies and potential business ideas for the future.”
When Lassonde opened its doors, its ultimate mission was to give every student on campus a space where their ideas could thrive. Now, it is preparing for a second group of students for the 2017-18 academic year. Kelling said she is optimistic about the future as the popularity of the building has exceeded expectations.
“We helped more students launch their ideas than ever before,” Kelling said. “In years to come, we hope to continue growing on this success reaching even more students and developing more ideas.”