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UMO Business Students Put their Education to the Test

MOUNT OLIVE— A college education is all about learning information and skills that prepare students for careers in their prospective fields of study. Being able to take that knowledge to the next level while still in school can be a game changer for graduates entering the competitive job market.

Ten University of Mount Olive students in Dr. Ana Dickson’s Business Practicum Course recently developed their own corporation, complete with a product design, executive leadership team, and sales force. As part of their coursework, the students used what they had learned in class to make an in-person loan presentation to representatives from Southern Bank and Trust (SB&T) Company.

The students named their business CupUp, which stands for Care, Unity, and Progress. CupUp offers uniquely designed stainless steel water bottles and shakers bottles. Working as a team, the students made a request for a $1,700 loan for their corporation. If approved, the money will be used to inventory and sell the product, with an agreement to repay the loan within six weeks.

“This is not a regular class in a way that you are solely responsible for what you do, and what your final grades are,” said CupUp Logistics Manager, Jonathan Bowers, a Human Resources Management major from Wayne County. “This class puts mediocrity out of the classroom. Our actions define the outcome of our business. If well done, it pays off as well done, and vice versa. In this class, you need to be willing to make sacrifices and work together as a team.”

According to Bowers, during the presentation, the SB&T representatives provided pointers and advice for future endeavors. “They also asked us real-life questions and scenarios regarding our business that we had not thought about,” Bowers added. “It was gratifying to hear what professionals had to say regarding our work.”

“The opportunity to dive head-first into the real-world process of creating and running a business is unparalleled in my experience as a student at three separate institutions,” said CupUp Chief Operating Officer Michael Lotts, a Finance major from Monterey, VA. “Through the development stages of CupUp, I have worked closely with my peers to mold a viable business idea into an actual business, not a business plan, not a simulated business, but an actual organization with tangible products, real decisions, and real consequences. This process is difficult and scary to undertake alone, so to be guided and supported by the Tillman School of Business’s amazing professors and staff is invaluable.”

Through the class, Lotts noted that he not only gained the tools he will use as an entrepreneur, but he also learned how to apply them. “I have learned so much and feel so much more prepared for a career as an entrepreneur, which I plan to pursue after graduation,” he said.

Following the presentation, SB&T approved the loan. The students have already begun their work towards product development, sales, distribution, and loan repayment.

“I believe in the value of learning by doing,” said Dr. Dickson, “and I am excited that at UMO, we provide students with the opportunity to apply some of the theoretical concepts we are teaching. We are fortunate to partner with SB&T for this class and we are grateful not only for the financial support, but also for the valuable information and advice our students received during this entrepreneurial endeavor.”

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University is sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists. For more information, visit

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