3 Utah high school students recognized in national business competition

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SALT LAKE CITY — As a senior in high school, it's rare to have it all figured out but some seniors in the Granite School District might.

"Hopefully I am a CEO of my company or a CEO of another company," Skyline High School senior Harleen Saini said. "I want to be helping the community around me so hopefully I can give back and be successful for myself as well."

She was one of 18 students who enrolled in the Granite CEO program. It's the first course in Utah to participate in a national program offered through the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship.

"The whole point of it is to really get the kids thinking about business. But not just thinking about it — actually doing it," Erin Paulsen, the facilitator of Granite CEO, said.

If Thursday's events taught them anything, it's that this course is working.

In a national competition, students pitched businesses like bath bundle essentials to seed growing kits for young kids and even a taxidermy cleaning and preservation service.

"I just wanted to make mine fun, catchy, interactive. It kind of worked out," Nadia Ferguson said about her pitch for Nadia's Necessities, a line of body wrap towels, hair towels and shower steamers.

Utah students placed first and third and another received an honorable mention out of a pool of 398 student pitches from across the country.

"We provide all-inclusive gardening kits for kids with various plant types," Saini said during her pitch.

She says she created scientific gardening kits for kids. "The process, it was really fun. I had my prototypes for my product and then my friends helped me film the actual footage for it. It was so exciting. I'm so happy," she said.

Granite CEO isn't your average business class. It's hands-on and interactive, pushing students to get out of their comfort zone.

"These kids, not only do they have to, you know, talk to people that they're going to sell to but they have to present themselves and present their products," Paulsen said. "They have to talk to local business leaders. They have to set up appointments with the local business leaders."

Granite seniors are already setting the bar high for the next entrepreneurs that follow.

"Making my own business has been by far, one of the best learning experiences I've ever ever had," Ferguson said.

These students will be launching their real businesses at Trolley Square during a trade show selling their own products. That is scheduled for May 13th from noon through 2 p.m.

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