Pictou students win One NS-themed challenge

Over 100 NSCC and university students spend 12 hours developing solutions to attract newcomer entrepreneurs

Pictou students win One NS-themed challenge

Winners of Challenge NS stand outside Pictou Campus with their instructor (left to right): Janey MacLean, Anne McDonah (faculty), Kelsey Levy and Janine Hawes.

Burridge students Ashley Roberts and Andre Roberts travelled from the Digby Learning Centre to Lunenburg to participate in the challenge.

With twenty minutes to spare, Janine Hawes and her teammates pressed ‘send' and breathed a deep sigh of relief, mixed with exhaustion and pride.

The Pictou Campus students, along with peers from across the province, spent 12 hours developing a tool to attract newcomer entrepreneurs to Nova Scotia – all part of the very first Challenge NS competition. The event tasked students with solving a problem related to the One NS report.

“We were really pressed for time, but we had received a lot of good input from mentors and fellow students, so we were feeling pretty good,” explained first-year business student Janey MacLean.

Their idea to create a one-stop shop website for international students looking to stay in Nova Scotia and become entrepreneurs landed them a first place finish.

“It was so crazy,” says Kelsey Levy of learning she was a winner. “I was just so happy to have participated, that I hadn’t really thought about winning.”

The team is now considering whether they will pursue their idea, but for all of them the real win was the experience of learning about entrepreneurship and working under pressure.

“It was a major personal accomplishment for me,” says Janey, who’s recently returned to school nine years after graduating high school. “I never thought I could do something like this, work with people I don’t know and work out of my comfort zone.”

While Janey and her team were busy at Pictou Campus, students Andre Roberts and his teammate from Burridge Campus’s Digby Learning Centre were collaborating virtually with teammates based at Marconi Campus in Sydney.

“While we didn’t win, we learned a lot about the workforce in Nova Scotia,” he says. “The competition broadened our knowledge and understanding of the unique challenges facing Nova Scotia.”

Sheri Williams, NSCC Manager of Entrepreneurship, who directed the competition in partnership with Cape Breton’s Island Sandbox, explains it’s what the challenge is about.

“It’s a chance to educate students about the problems our province faces and to provide students with an opportunity to think entrepreneurially and come up with solutions.”

The College plans to run the event again next year and hopes to welcome repeat participants and new ones.  

Kelsey adds, “I’d love to do it again, but I’ll be graduating this year. Hopefully, I can come back as a mentor.”



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