As a junior at Huntington, Melissa Shepard was offered the chance of a lifetime. Her summertime boss called to ask if she would like to buy an ice cream shop. After some prayer, she accepted.
It was the ultimate game plan. Become an entrepreneurial/small business management major and open a small business. Sometimes life just works out perfectly.
The Swiss Swirl, located in Brooklyn, Mich., is a walkup window ice cream shop that offers both soft serve and hand-scooped ice cream along with hotdogs and nachos. The business has been around since the 1970s.
In 2008, Shepard graduated from HU and dove headfirst into running her own business.
“I wasn’t a typical business student. I had no clue what was I was doing or where I was going with my major, just hoping God would open doors — which he did my junior of college,” she said. “Once I purchased the business, I was so glad that my professors helped me in any way they could.”
Dave McEowen, associate professor of business, helped Shepard develop a business plan for future expansion of the ice cream shop and then her existing client base helped her shop take off.
“There are always good times and bad times. Since I purchased an existing business, I skipped the hassle of building my customer base, but I also have to deal with older equipment that costs a pretty penny to repair,” Shepard said. “Overall, it has been a fun experience. I enjoy serving people and giving youth a chance to learn work ethics, as most of my employees are new to the workforce.”
Shepard joined the business department after discovering that her original plan of studying art education turned out to be more of a hobby for her personally rather than a career.
“When I arrived at Huntington to register for classes I met with Professor McPherren,” she said. “We discussed what I was interested in and told me about a new major they were starting that year, … and I decided that I could use my talents and gifts by owning my own business.”
Over Shepard’s years at Huntington, she developed her skills as a businesswoman, along with building confidence and character for her life after graduation.
“I feel blessed that God gave me the opportunity to attend Huntington and give me the strength and ability to own my own business. Without his guidance I wouldn’t be who I am today,” she said.
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