Published On: Sun, Jul 1st, 2012

From Student to CEO, Young Entrepreneurs Graduate

BOCA RATON — Seventeen middle and high school students received CEO status on June 4th at the Boca Chamber Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) commencement.

After months of hard work, the students were presented with their well-deserved diplomas by Beth Johnston, Program Manager and Boca Chamber Executive Vice President, along with Troy M. McLellan, CCE, Chamber President & CEO and 2012 Boca Chamber Chair Cheryl Budd, CCO of NCCI. The Boca Chamber partnered with Florida Atlantic University Adams Center for Entrepreneurship and Florida Power and Light for this year’s academy.

“This is a unique program, where kids can actually launch real businesses,” said Beth Johnston. This year’s enterprises range from Senior Link Consulting, a business providing technology assistance to senior citizen to the Shark Whisperer, a not-for-profit created with a focus on saving the shark population.

During its inaugural year, the Boca’s YEA! class presented to a local investor panel and then sent the winner, Rebecca Zerbo, CEO of Positive Pocket, to the national competition in Rochester, New York, where she won over the national panel and took first place in the competition.

“The fact that Rebecca (Zerbo) travelled to Rochester and won the national contest speaks volumes about the high level of entrepreneurial spirit that we have in our community – from Fortune 500 CEOs to a local seventh grader,” said Troy M. McLellan. “Each student in the Boca Chamber YEA! class had a strong business plan that would have been competitive on the national level. We are very proud of all of their accomplishments this year.”

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a groundbreaking eight-month program that guides students in grades 6-12 through the process of starting a real business, including business plan development, pitching an investor panel, obtaining funding, launching the venture, managing media campaigns, e-commerce and web development, sales events, and trade shows. Students, ages 11 to 18, are taught to recognize the power of their ideas, and to develop the skills necessary to turn those ideas into meaningful enterprises.

The following students make up Boca Chamber YEA! Class.

Rebecca Zerbo – Eagles Landing Middle School
Sam Steiner – Saint Andrews School
Alex Heatzig – Saint Andrews School
Jordan Rosen – Eagles Landing Middle School
Jackson Parell – Saint Andrews School
Jack Meyers – Don Estridge High Tech Middle School
Zach Elgart – Saint Andrews School
Yoli Navis – Spanish River High School
Sara Brenes – Boca Prep International School
Harrison Brenner – Saint Andrews School
Daniel Nascimento – Boca Raton High School
Kyle Dagnan – Woodlands Middle School
Andres Heizer – West Boca Raton Community High School
Sabrina Ungerman – Saint Andrews School
Matthew Butzer – Saint Andrews School
Tyler Martin – Saint Andrews School
Ryan Wennick – Saint Andrews School

For more information about the Boca Chamber Young Entrepreneurs Academy, please call 561.395.4433 ext. 236 or visit

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