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York College helps Entrepreneurship and Innovation major find her confidence

TeAsia wears a suit as she works on her laptop in the campus quad

When TeAsia Lewis ’21 graduated from the York County School of Technology with a license in cosmetology, she wasn’t ready to start working for someone else. “I knew from the beginning that I wanted to be my own boss,” she says. “That was really important to me.”

She wanted to stay close to her hometown of York, so she could be near family and cut back on college expenses like room and board. But, what was most important to her was finding an entrepreneurship program. “York College was the only place I found that offered that nearby,” she says. “That sealed it for me.”

Lewis jumped right into the Entrepreneurship and Innovation major. The Graham School of Business felt like the perfect place—filled with professors who were experts in their fields and dedicated to helping students uncover their own passions. As a commuter student, Lewis admits she spent her first semester only on campus for classes. But, as she began to understand the resources that were available to her, she found herself spending longer days connecting with faculty and exploring opportunities.

Removing the barriers

While Lewis found the affordable and quality education she was looking for at York College, it was still challenging to make ends meet. “I’m incredibly grateful to my advisor for being bold enough to ask me about my financial situation and show me that I didn’t have to carry a financial burden,” Lewis says.

She applied for and received a merit scholarship administered by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Young Entrepreneur Foundation in honor of York businessman Richard Reinhardt. That scholarship empowered Lewis to pursue her interests at York College. She didn’t have to choose working over taking on extra projects.

She competed in the J.D. Brown Center’s annual YCP Hacks event to develop new business concepts. She also started raising her hand more to work in campus theatre productions, which coincides with her Theatre minor. Now, she could put her cosmetology experience to work. “That scholarship changed a lot of things for me,” Lewis says, “I’m forever grateful for that.”

Becoming the boss

Pitching an idea, standing on stage, or even just sitting around a boardroom table can be intimidating. For Lewis, she often felt that pressure even more as a female minority. It’s not uncommon for her to be the only Black woman in the room. “I could have let that make me smaller,” she says. “But I used it to find my strength.”

When she’s feeling the anxiety of a big presentation, Lewis pulls on her theatre knowledge, practicing breathing exercises or power poses that she learned from her stage experience. She also leans on her York College professors, who have taught her the skills she needs to succeed as a leader and, someday, as her own boss.

It’s what helped Lewis pursue her first business, which launched in January 2020. Looked At Beauty is a beauty-accessory company that makes keychain accessories. They can hold lip gloss or eyelash tools and even door openers since the COVID-19 outbreak. While she’s still working out the kinks and learning more about her target demographic, Lewis is proud of the business that’s slowly grown during a pandemic.

“I could have decided to wait on the idea,” she says. “I’m still watching to see how the business world is going to shift under COVID-19, but I’m also looking for innovation. That’s what I want to follow.”