Entrepreneur Nicholas Roper Working to Give Youth a Chance
February 25, 2013
Cheyney University senior Nicholas Roper, an entrepreneur, is working on a business plan to help inner-city youth
Nicholas Roper is glad he transferred from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) to Cheyney University this past summer. Two years ago, the Abington, PA native left IUP to come home and help his mother, taking an administrative job in a dermatology office at University of Pennsylvania Hospital to help make ends meet. Eventually, he started taking some classes at CU's Center City location--doing an entire semester's worth of work in half the time. The Liberal Arts major with a concentration in Business likes the accelerated pace so much, he still takes classes at CUCC, even though he started full-time at CU's main campus this semester.
"I love the program because you still learn--if not more in 7 1/2 weeks-- because the key/core elements are strongly emphasized. You have to get the little things on your own," the 23-year-old admits, but "everything is compact. Every point is crucial. The classes feed off of each other so that you're always using what you learn from semester to semester."
Another CU benefit that Roper loves is the Entrepreneurial Leadership Center (ELC ) which gives students who want to start their own businesses access to resources to support their goals. ELC Project Development Coordinator Reginald Whiteside helps bring accomplished entrepreneurs and successful business leaders to campus to mentor and advise students. Roper is part of the ELC's new CEO program, a student club for students who want to become entrepreneurs. Roper credits Whiteside with helping him hone his entrepreneurial idea. "He is a big help," Roper insists. "He encouraged me to pursue my own non-profit and work on a serious business plan. It started with me having an idea, to me making my best friend, Bonnie Roldan, a senior at IUP, my partner."
Roper's non-profit, Destined to Achieve, Inc., is not yet licensed but he's working toward that goal. His small company is geared toward getting inner city kids tutoring, mentoring, counseling, networking, and involved in community service in the Philadelphia area.
"I hope to eventually branch off in other cities like Pittsburgh and Harrisburg," Roper shares. "I want to mentor youth and have an after-school program for high school kids starting in 9th grade. I believe that it's never too late. A lot of kids aren't college prep material until the last minute or even after graduation and they still go on to college and become successful. I want to have college kids mentor high school kids."
Over Christmas break, Roper, who believes in giving back to his community, partnered with another young entrepreneur from Drexel University, Clinton Taylor, to hold a toy and food drive, basketball tournament and social networking event in an effort to help others. "We had a great turnout for all three events," he exclaims. "People donated over 250 toys and 150 canned goods that all went to the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia. Needy families received toys and food for the holidays." In addition, the basketball tournament brought neighborhoods together in a positive way and students were able to meet successful professionals at the networking event. All three events will now become annual events, Roper says.
"I was very impressed that he took his time off over Christmas break to give back to at-risk youth in his community," Whiteside states. "He's a hard worker and one of our future leaders of the Philadelphia area."
Roper, who went to a Catholic school in Philadelphia because his mom didn't think public schools were good enough in the city, watched many of his friends who did go to public schools, drop out of the race when it came to college. They didn't go, for whatever reasons.
"I want to help make sure kids have a chance," the CU senior says. "I just feel that if you put the right people in the right places, anything can happen. All it takes is being enlightened, having someone in your corner who sees your desire, and pushes you and encourages you. If you give them the right tools," he says, "such as character-building workshops and mentors from the outside who are successful in their careers, more young people will succeed."