Olivia Hoekstra on business, entrepreneurship and professionalizing her interests

The introduction of the business and entrepreneurship (BUEN) major to Lawrence University has garnered attention across the Lawrence community, but by none more so than those who will be administering and participating in the department as it is implemented. Senior Olivia Hoekstra is one of the prospective students who chose to pursue this new program.  

The practices of the entrepreneur are nothing foreign to Hoekstra; throughout her past and in the present, she has partaken in independent merchandising. From selling soap online and offering tarot card readings on Etsy to participating in biometric screenings and offering freelance work, her passion lies in professionalizing her interests. Her ambitions led her to pursue the innovation and entrepreneurship interdisciplinary area (alongside a religious studies major and music minor) currently offered in Lawrence’s curriculum since there was no formal business major at the time of her enrollment.  

When the BUEN major was announced, Hoekstra’s initial reaction was pure excitement; finally, there was an area of study beyond an IA that aligned with her interests. With business on the mind, she said that besides her personal feelings towards the announcement, she is also seeking to become more “marketable” to future employers with the major under her belt. “It’s one thing to have innovation and entrepreneurship as an interdisciplinary, but another thing to have it as a degree,” she claimed.  

In the midst of her excitement, however, the problem of being a senior on track to graduate this spring while still trying to work towards the new degree awaited Hoekstra. Luckily, professors were willing to work with her towards a solution. It was decided that Hoekstra would still graduate with the class of 2023 at commencement, but one extra Fall Term of BUEN classes would be required. Having already achieved the innovation and entrepreneurship IA was a large factor propelling her towards her prospective completion of the major.  

Hoekstra expects that the business major at Lawrence may look different than at other schools. She guesses that the university is going to take more of an “all-inclusive” approach to the practice. Rather than having a focus on one aspect of business, Hoekstra hopes Lawrence will focus on creating a well-rounded curriculum to prepare graduates for a wide variety of corporate jobs or entrepreneurial endeavors.  

Her next two terms will be filled with business-related classes, including Marketing Principles, an introduction to marketing, and Apple Google Facebook, an in-depth study of the power that major technology corporations wield over the public and how our reverence for their services is “like a religion these days.” Not only is it a BUEN requirement, but it is taught by a religious studies professor, right up Hoekstra’s alley.  

Religion and business intersect in Hoekstra’s prospective capstone paper. She plans to center it around what will be taught in Apple Google Facebook, which will cover both majors in one project.  

While she praised the major highly, Hoekstra had some concerns regarding  how (and when) it was crafted. She criticized the lack of information available to the Lawrence community, calling out the poor communication she feels the university has subjected the student body to throughout the implementation process, especially those interested in the major.  

She plans to go through with majoring in BUEN. Where the major will take her, she does not know yet. Many pathways stretch beyond Lawrence for her, all of which involve business in some way. She shared that, while she is not completely sure what road she would like to take, entrepreneurship will never be far off. Starting a business is a goal she has set for herself, and while the details are still in the works, she mentioned an interest in starting a religious nonprofit or working as a self-marketed vocalist. Graduate school is not out of the question either, especially if a future employer is willing to fund it. “Definitely a lot of things to think about,” she admitted.  

Overall, Hoekstra has faith in the BUEN major. “I think this is really going to set me up to do something big.”