Mya Neary went to college to study entrepreneurship. She planned to open her own floral design business.
After a year at Suffolk University in Boston, she transferred to UMass Lowell for “a more traditional campus experience” in a smaller but vibrant city.
Here, she discovered other types of entrepreneurship, including social entrepreneurship. The honors student applied for a $1,000 Honors College fellowship to work with Senior Lecturer Deb Finch on her own idea for a nonprofit startup.
“I thought of urban farming – giving kids access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” says Neary, whose family raises pigs and turkeys for meat, chickens for eggs and horses for riding on six acres in Plympton.
As part of her fellowship, Neary will do a service-learning internship with Mill City Grows, an urban farming nonprofit in Lowell that also promotes nutrition education through school gardens and other programs. While she waits for an internship to open up in its business operations, she’s volunteering at its largest urban farming site.
“Deb Finch said, ‘I’ve got the perfect nonprofit for you.’ It was Mill City Grows. I didn’t even know about them when I came up with the idea. My idea was their business plan,” she says.
Neary’s plans for the future have taken root, thanks to Finch and her work with Mill City Grows. Now she wants to bring an urban farming nonprofit to a city that doesn’t have one yet.
On Finch’s advice, Neary has added a concentration in management to her focus on entrepreneurship. She took a nutrition course because she needed a science class – and now she’s working on a minor in nutrition, too.
“UMass Lowell has let me spread myself out so I can try new things, and that’s helped me figure out what I want to do,” she says. “Nonprofit entrepreneurship is a way of doing what I love.”