Student facilitates on-campus entrepreneurial community

CELL, the Community for Entrepreneurial Leadership and Learning, kicked off the semester with a town hall style meeting Wednesday in the SSU Commons.

“It went really well,” said Student Lead and Board Director Patrick Maloney. “We had about 30 or 40 people there, several of them came in with a certain idea of what entrepreneurship was and upon leaving they had a completely transformed opinion of what entrepreneurship could be.”

The discussion featured Margaret Anderson of the Dialogue Center among others, and represented just one of the many programs and events the newly formed group will be putting on this year.

CELL was created in July, and while there have been previous attempts to get students engaged in entrepreneurialism at SSU in the past, this time a more modern approach is being taken.

Maloney intends for CELL to encompass more than just the traditional business aspects of entrepreneurship. So does Faculty Lead and Mentor Kirsten Ely, who emphasized that entrepreneurial thinking can come from any major or academic discipline. 

“By its nature it is multidisciplinary, because to be successful you really need to bring people together from different disciplines and get them to share,” said Ely, who is also an accounting professor in the business department here at SSU. 

One of the goals of CELL is to help student entrepreneurs with startups and ideas, while at the same time helping students use an entrepreneurial mindset to gain the most from activities and classes. 

“CELL is not just about incubating student businesses, its also about introducing entrepreneurial thinking into education,” said Maloney, who is working full time to get the ball rolling for this newly created community.

With the help of a growing group of student board advisors, Maloney is planning multiple events and programs this year to help get students thinking about the growing importance of having an entrepreneurial mindset. He urged student entrepreneurs to contact him if interested in being a part of the board of advisors, who assist in making these activities happen.  

An improvisation event in collaboration with SSU Improvaholics and VOICEOUT, as well as participation in Campus Movie Fest, will be occurring in October. While dates for these events are not yet finalized, they are to be announced soon on the groups Facebook page at, where other information about CELL can be found.

A market day is also in the works, which would be an opportunity for students on campus to make their ideas or products known.

“It’s a big day where we can really show the community, the rest of the campus, and the administration all of the awesome things our students are doing right now that people just aren’t aware of yet,” said Maloney.

CELL also hopes to obtain space in the new Student Union Center that would be dedicated to student entrepreneurship, as well having the long term goal of creating a multidisciplinary General Education class that would focus on entrepreneurial thinking.

In terms of creating a community for promoting entrepreneurship, SSU is not alone.

“This is Sonoma State’s first foray into something that is going on around the country,” said Maloney. “Its important to realize that it’s not just something were coming up with but it’s a nation wide trend that’s going to change the way college campuses interact with the world.”