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Student alum Teo is using his entrepreneurial spirit to strengthen local government

When Teo was in high school, he knew that college would be in his future. It was the “how”— the actual steps of preparing for the ACT, applying for scholarships and choosing a school — that was less clear. “As a first-gen student, I wanted to break that barrier and attend college,” says Teo, “College Possible empowered me by giving me access to coaching that could otherwise cost thousands of dollars.” 

During his junior year at Gresham High School, Teo’s College Possible coach, Paige, encouraged Teo to apply for Young Entrepreneurs Business Week (YEBW; now called Oregon Business Academy). At YEBW, Teo worked with a cohort to develop a product and pitch it to judges. His team came up with the “Butterfly Hanger,” a high-quality collapsable hanger that was travel-friendly, and took first place for their product presentation! Teo’s week at business camp was instrumental in developing his interest in entrepreneurship, and ultimately directed him toward his degree pathway. 

Teo stands in front of a university building wearing a graduation cap and holding a diploma.
Teo graduated from Warner Pacific University in 2021.

With a newfound passion for business and a desire to attend a smaller, community-oriented school, Teo landed at Warner Pacific University and declared a major in social entrepreneurship. He immediately set the ambitious goal of graduating in three years and maintaining a full-time barista job at Dutch Bros Coffee while in school. Teo emphasizes the important role that his College Possible coaches played during this time, noting that “They were there to help me set goals along the way and help me stay on track, or even when I just needed to vent about my course load and juggling school with work.”

While cruising toward his bachelor’s degree, Teo nurtured strong relationships with business faculty members at Warner Pacific. WPU’s Dean of Business, Dr. Neiworth, recognized Teo’s outstanding drive and nominated him for the Social Entrepreneurship Student of the Year award. In Teo’s words, winning this award was the “icing on the cake,” of an already rewarding college experience. Dr. Neiworth served as a reference and support for Teo as he applied for internships and graduate schools, helping to establish a network of support that is so crucial for students. 

A picture of Teo, who has black hair and is wearing clear glasses, holding out an iced coffee. The main image text reads: "More than $1,100,000 raised company wide."
Featured in a Dutch Bros social campaign.

Eventually, Teo secured a yearlong corporate internship with Dutch Bros, taking the first step of his business career. The internship featured quarterly rotations in social impact and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), customer experience, social engagement and public relations. 

Equipped with a bachelor’s degree and diverse work experience in the business sector, Teo felt like he was ready for whatever came next. Flash forward a few years and Teo finds himself back in his hometown, working for the City of Gresham as a community engagement coordinator. “Since social entrepreneurship is about connecting purpose and profit in a business, I carry those principles of impact and relationship building into my current role,” Teo explains. “My current role may not be in business directly, but I still have a strong desire to be an entrepreneur.” Next up, Teo hopes to pursue an MBA and fuse his passions for business and social engagement.

If you’re interested in gaining tangible experience to help your career goals become a reality, apply for AmeriCorps service today, or register for one of our free, virtual information sessions.

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