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Bowie State partners with coffee chain on experiential learning program

Saxbys’ founder and CEO Nick Bayer with Devin Gallion, a rising senior at Bowie State who will be the first Student Care Executive Officer. Gallion, a Baltimore native, is a business administration major. (Submitted photo)

Saxbys founder and CEO Nick Bayer, left, with Devin Gallion, a rising senior at Bowie State who will be the first student care executive officer. Gallion, a Baltimore native, is a business administration major. (Submitted photo)

Bowie State University students will get hands-on experience running a coffee shop as part of the university’s partnership with a Philadelphia coffee chain.

Saxbys will bring its experiential learning program to Bowie State this fall — the first campus it has partnered with outside of Pennsylvania — as the university works to expand its entrepreneurial offerings for students.

“With this model, our student CEO will learn those essential skills and it will happen right here on the campus,” Aminta Breaux, Bowie State’s president, said. “This fits in the new model for higher education today, and that’s making sure that we’re helping our students develop an entrepreneurial mindset.”

Breaux first encountered the Saxbys model at Millersville University, where she served as a vice president before coming to Bowie State two years ago.

Under the Saxbys model, a student cafe executive officer runs the campus location entirely, presenting profit and loss statements monthly to Saxbys’ executive team.

The student CEO gets paid, has bonus opportunities and receives full academic credit.

Devin Gaillon, a rising senior and Baltimore resident, will serve as Bowie State’s first student CEO. He is in Philadelphia now for training.

Saxbys also uses the experiential learning program at Drexel University, Temple University, La Salle University, West Chester University, Penn State University and Saint Joseph’s University. 

“We have long admired Bowie State University, an institution whose values are closely aligned with our own,” Nick Bayer, Saxbys founder and CEO, said in a statement. “Under the leadership of inimitable President Breaux we’ve watched Bowie State flourish. I could not imagine a more suitable host university to help Saxbys successfully expand its Experiential Learning Program to this vibrant campus in Maryland.”

Bayer founded Saxbys in 2005 as a socially focused cafe with a mission to “make life better.” Most of its locations are in the Philadelphia area, with some other coffee shops in Washington, Atlanta and New Hampshire.

Saxbys created the experiential learning program in 2015.

The program matches Breaux’s focus on improving entrepreneurial opportunities at Bowie State since she came to the university two years ago.

When she came, the university’s entrepreneurhsip program was only available within the business school. It is now available to all students.

The university also will open an entrepreneurship living-learning community on campus in 2021. It will house more than 500 students in a center designed to help spur their entrepreneurial ideas.

“I know that our students coming to us have these notions of starting a new business and creating a new product and we have to support them in those endeavours,” Breaux said.

The living-learning center will give students access to mentors and other resources.

It also will have retail. Breaux hopes she can attract businesses interested in following the Saxbys model.

She said she has not encountered many businesses that do this hopes that Saxbys can demonstrate how a company can be successful while also providing an opportunity for experiential learning.

Breaux’s background is in experiential learning, and she hopes more students get that opportunity.

“I am very much a proponent of experiential learning and making sure students are given these opportunities before they graduate,” she said.

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