Essex County College Provides Pre-College Experience to Budding Newark High School Entrepreneurs   

Nayale Green (left) in her cosmetology workshop

Jakai Price displays his clothing brand ideas

Zaniyah Austin

For three weeks this summer, 60 high school students from Newark came to Essex County College for four hours a day for the opportunity to learn marketable skills.  They attended workshops aimed at boosting their confidence and demonstrating the many business paths available to them.

These enterprising teens, who received $15 an hour for participating, were all part of the Safe Summer Academy 2023. The Academy was organized by the Changemakers Program, in collaboration with Newark’s Office of Violence Prevention & Trauma Recovery, said Program Director Dr. Jamila T. Davis, an educator, community activist and entrepreneur. She was assisted by Civil Rights Attorney Angelo Pinto.  

The students were paid through Newark’s One Stop Summer Youth Program, providing them with financial support and teaching them the importance of responsibility and work ethic, stated Dr. Davis.

The workshops at the Academy included Social Justice Writing, Teen Entrepreneurship, Cosmetology, and Graphic Design. 

Serena Hazelwood, from Newark Street Academy, signed up for the Graphic Design workshops. She has started a clothing and accessory line, and is exploring options to market her startup. “This program has really helped me in creating a website and exploring ways I can advance my business,” she said. Serena proudly displayed one of her creations, a shirt emblazoned with Only the Raw Survive and a lion sporting a star over one of his eyes. “The shirt symbolizes that with passion, you can overcome life’s struggles and obstacles.”

Arts High School student Jalen Williams registered for the program to help provide him with ideas on starting a business to sell t-shirts. He said he came up with several shirt designs from his comic books. Jalen is confident the skills he leered at the Academy will help him going forward in business.    

Zaniyah Austin, a student at University High School, hopes her journal writing on gun violence will help curb the scourge. “This program is certainly improving my writing skills and I hope to be able to use any forum I can to help combat gun violence,” she said.   

Dr. Davis said the workshop instructors were carefully selected. “Their success stories served as inspiration for the students, showing them what is possible with hard work and determination,” she stated.

At the end of the three weeks, the student presented their work to a panel of judges. The student winners received up to $500 each to help start their own businesses.

“The Safe Summer Academy 2023 was a transformative experience for the participating students. By equipping them with valuable skills and exposing them to successful role models in their respective fields, the program aimed to inspire and empower the students to pursue their passions and achieve success,” Dr. Davis said.