24 May 2021
Since its 2015 founding, Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship Network (GCSEN) Foundation has graduated over 100 Meaning Makers from their Social Venture Bootcamp Program at Wheaton College (MA) while certifying 600 more students from 12 states, 12 countries, via workshops with students from 50 colleges and universities. GCSEN’s campus learning partners are led by national R&D pilot campus Wheaton College (MA) and joined now by SUNY New Paltz Business School, St. Peter’s University Business School, LeMoyne College Madden Business School, and Vassar College have taken SE101, SE102, SE103, participated in our Discover you Social Entrepreneur Within Fireside Chat, or have read Get to Wow! Exploring your Inner Social Entrepreneur by GCSEN Founder, President Michael Caslin and executive staff, Tony DiMarco, GCSEN Consultant, Harv Hilowitz, and President of Wheaton College (MA), Dennis Hanno.
Throughout the years, graduating as a GCSEN Certified Social Entrepreneur aka Meaning Maker meant that you have a lifetime of mentorship, guidance, and for a select few, the opportunity to advance your career by starting as an intern and rising the GCSEN career opportunity ladder upon graduation to a junior consultant. Interns and junior consultants have graduated from GCSEN’s Social Venture Bootcamp and are personally selected by the Founder and GCSEN President, Michael Caslin, and executive staff. GCSEN certified social entrepreneurs commit to 3-weeks and 120 hours of GCSEN curated coursework, mentorship, and world-class coaching that culminates in a rigorous, Angel level pitch to other social entrepreneurs and collegiate leaders. Mind you, this is often done at a time when most students are enjoying their final few weeks of winter break. Once the Bootcamp is over, the new graduates are encouraged to continue working on their 4P Social Venture with the knowledge that they will be supported by GCSEN throughout their entrepreneurial journey; their success is our success!
A GCSEN 4P Certified Social Entrepreneur/ 4P Meaning Maker title has a career impact. With this designation, all immediately know that you are equipped with a unique entrepreneurial mindset and are dedicated to positively impacting the world through people, planet, profit, or place. Those who have successfully participated in GCSEN programs are the same people who compete to work with GCSEN at a later date. Working with GCSEN as an Intern or Junior Consultant provides adult learners with the unique opportunity to work in a field that they love while also being required to work on their social venture. Talk about getting to “WOW”! At present, GCSEN has 3 Junior Consultants from Wheaton College - Winslow Robinson ‘20 BFA Theatre, Zara Ayanna Salmon ‘18 BA English and Political Science, and Brandon Witter ‘19 BA Computer Science.
Meet the GCSEN Meaning Makers powering our mission to accelerate 4PSE through life-changing learning experiences via innovative digital learning and coaching programs! Every day, they are propelling us closer to our 2031 vision of certifying 100,000 Social Entrepreneurs and helping to launch/ support 10,000 4P Social Enterprises positively impacting people, profit, planet, and place!
How did you first learn about GCSEN?
I first heard about GCSEN Foundation through my college advisor at Wheaton College (MA), Professor Deyonne Bryant. I had just recently shared my interest in entrepreneurship with people and Professor Bryant thought it’d be a great opportunity for me. I applied as a GCSEN User Experience Intern for the Social Venture 2018 Bootcamp and it’s been consistent, valuable support in my life ever since.
What is so special about the GCSEN experience that makes you want to continue working beyond the course?
It’s the genuine passion that the team has for Social Entrepreneurship! Though there were many incredible experiences and opportunities at my alma mater, by my senior year, I still didn’t feel like I quite fit into campus life. Finding GCSEN during the second semester of my senior year gave my college experience a pulse at a time when it felt inert. Though I wish I had heard of GCSEN when they first launched the Social Venture Bootcamp in 2016, I am so grateful that I have the esteemed opportunity to work with GCSEN now and pay it forward by inspiring a new generation of 4P Social Entrepreneurs, in the same way, GCSEN has inspired me.
What have you been up to since graduating from GCSEN’s 2018 Social Venture Bootcamp?
Wow, what a question! Post the Wheaton SE Launch/GCSEN 4P Social Venture Bootcamp, I felt like God breathed life into my soul again. I had an idea that business was my passion for about one year before GCSEN but after GCSEN, I knew that business was my passion and I am so proud to be a GCSEN 4P Certified Social Entrepreneur. My connection with GCSEN helped me get my first job post-college. GCSEN provided a key professional reference for my work as the AmeriCorps VISTA Communications Coordinator for Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG) in Providence, RI. A co-working space and hub for social entrepreneurship that partners with Brown University, I had first heard about SEG when I entered an earlier competition for social entrepreneurship co-sponsored by GCSEN. At present, I’m still learning how to balance my role as a Junior Consultant for GCSEN, the Community Liaison for my mother’s own healthcare business, and growing my social venture.
What’s your social venture?
In 2019, I launched my plant-based lifestyle brand, CRAVEInfused to encourage people to incorporate more plants into their everyday diet and lives. For the past year, I’ve been working on perfecting our new CBDInfused body butter. I’m in no rush as I have the unique opportunity to work and learn from GCSEN Foundation so I’d like to put more focus into that but as I always say, #StayTuned #CRAVEInfused!
How did you get involved with GCSEN?
I first learned about GCSEN from my grandmother, who is a close friend of Wheaton Alum ‘60 and visionary philanthropist, Diana Davis Spencer. Ultimately, they put me in contact with Mike and I even skipped a class (with the professor's permission, of course) to meet him. I explained my business idea and he offered his support and willingness to collaborate and develop the idea through a social venture internship at the Wheaton SE Launch/GCSEN Social Venture Bootcamp hosted on campus. My GCSEN Bootcamp experience was incredible! I got to hear ideas and help my classmates talk through what we wanted to do and we all learned how we could do it. I love working with people and helping them achieve, so GCSEN seemed like a natural fit.
What is your business idea?
My 4P Social Venture project is called Achilles Heal, aimed at helping veterans and teenagers with suicidal thoughts and tendencies and empowering them with new coping skills through the power of theatre and therapy. The project hopes to lower the suicide rate in these groups by creating a practice and community where it isn't taboo to talk and work through your emotions, through the use of various theatre, DBT, CBT, and behavioral therapy techniques along with literary analysis.
After you completed the 4P Social Venture Bootcamp and graduated with your BFA in Theatre from Wheaton, what brought you back to GCSEN?
I reached out to GCSEN in Fall 2020 after graduation and non-fit job experiences. I was but now I haven't looked back! The amount of work that I have done as well as the tangible impact that I can make with GCSEN is incredible and it's nice to see the fruits of your labor paying off! My work/life balance has become a lot more stable with GCSEN. When I stay late, it isn't because someone is taking forever in the dining area, it's because we are all so focused and committed to solving the current problems of adult learners. GCSEN creates an environment where work is not only challenging and different, but it's also a lot of fun to collaborate and have every idea be heard. The collaborative aspect of the office environment, as well as the chance to make a difference in the world while building my network greatly influenced my decision to return.
What’s a day in the life of a GCSEN Junior Consultant like?
Currently, I manage GCSEN’s Digital Curriculum and Global Learning platforms, Youtube and TikTok accounts. My duties can include general operational GCSEN support, being either course building or proofreads. Refamiliarizing myself with Final Cut Pro recently has been a lot of fun, and helping to build the course curriculum has also been great. It's evident GCSEN practices what it preaches when it comes to THEOS (Together Help Each Other Succeed) and “Get to Wow.” GCSEN also creates one day a week for me to work on my 4P social venture, Achilles Heal, the project that I have been developing since the Bootcamp through the GCSEN “Venturator” and Incubator with free rent for one year!
As a GCSEN Junior Consultant, I also came on board to help launch a GCSEN podcast, aiding with the online course videos, while becoming a veritable Zoom expert. I hope to grow GCSEN's TikTok and Youtube platforms to reach our vision of 100 Million people receiving positive 4P Social Entrepreneurship insights, inspirations, and practical practices through media outreach and thought leadership, certify 100,000 Social Entrepreneurs, and support 10,000 4P Social Enterprises by 2031. I know that we must, can, and will make a difference!
How did you first learn about GCSEN?
I learned about GCSEN through a Machine Learning Course at Wheaton College where we worked in small groups to act as a mock startup company. We had to prepare a pitch at the end of the semester and Professor Caslin was one of the guest judges. He introduced us to the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation sponsored 4P Social Venture Boot Camp as part of Wheaton’s SE Launch Program for Social Impact via Social Ventures and through a 1-on-1 follow-up conversation with him, I decided to do it!
What about your GCSEN experience made you want to continue working with them?
Truly, I want to help as many college students as possible to benefit from GCSEN’s life-changing learning experiences. GCSEN gave me a voice and showed me that I can do anything, including speaking in front of hundreds of people! If I can do it, any student with GCSEN’s support can too!
GCSEN changed my life and built my confidence up. Because of my positive experience through the Boot Camp, I wanted to spread the word about them. I truly believe that every college student could benefit from the experience. Because I was a Wheaton Student passionate about Social Entrepreneurship, it just made sense to work with GCSEN. I became an intern in the summer of 2019 and shortly after graduation, a Junior Consultant.
What are your responsibilities as a GCSEN Junior Consultant?
I like to say that I do a little bit of everything. I do whatever Mike (Professor Michael Caslin, Founder/CEO) and Tony (Tony DiMarco, Managing Director) need key support on. Whether it’s helping out with a research project, working at GCSEN’s boot camps, or helping out at the office, I’m always eager for my next task. My most notable projects include; the Kingston Makers Project, Compiling the 2020 and 2021 GCSEN 4P Social Venture Boot Camp Impact Reports ( 500+ pages each), and Helping with a GCSEN Certified Social Venture consulting for the cutting edge digital narrative therapy gaming non-profit Digging-Deep Project/ Shadow’s Edge game. I also reestablished the Social Entrepreneurship Club at Wheaton and I am proud to say that even after graduating, it is still active with new leadership. Finally, I give recruitment presentations to dozens of Wheaton classes for Boot Camp recruitment each year.
Now that you have officially graduated, how have you been balancing your responsibilities with work?
I am not actively working on my business (BuzzSafe- safety technologies for the hearing impaired) from the Bootcamp, but GCSEN has introduced me to so many new passions that I am currently participating in. Because of GCSEN, I developed a passion for making and prototyping. I am currently enrolled in MIT Fab Foundation’s Fab Academy which is a 30-hour a week commitment for 6 months hosted by Wheaton College. On top of this, I am working my role at GCSEN. Balancing this workload and social life isn’t easy, but you learn to make time for the things you love. And, if you’re passionate about the work, it doesn’t feel like working!
For more information on GCSEN go to www.GCSEN.com and enjoy our featured GCSEN video short stories and life-changing learning lectures! Press Contact- Mike Caslin, Founder/CEO, Mike@GCSEN.com, cell- 001-212-444-2071 or GCSEN Media Relations Coordinator Junior Consultant Zara Ayanna Salmon (W’18), Zara@GCSEN.com.