Columbia College Trep TakeoverThe opportunity to create one’s future has always been a hallmark of higher education. By learning relevant material and developing critical thinking skills, students are prepared to innovate and challenge the status quo. For young entrepreneurs, dorm rooms and lecture halls become the perfect setting to begin creating their own future.

Columbia College faculty, alumni and donors believe entrepreneurs play a crucial role in shaping the economy and driving innovation, which is why the college will offer a major and minor in entrepreneurship beginning in August. It’s also why the college finds a way to offer a forum for influential entrepreneurs through the Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship.

During their experience at Columbia College, students will learn how to develop a business plan, secure an internship, network with investors and launch their ventures. The college also will provide access to startup capital through the Fishman Entrepreneur of the Year pitch competition. The winner will receive a $5,000 award and a seat on the Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship Advisory Board.

To celebrate this pioneering spirit, Columbia College will host ‘Trep Takeover, an evening for entrepreneurs to learn, network and get inspired. The ‘Trep Takeover panelists will help everyone from seasoned pros to students just starting up fine-tune their ideas. The event, which is open to the public, will be held March 20 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Launer Auditorium. Be sure to join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #TrepTakeover.

Meet our panelists:

Monica Mehta – As the managing principal of the New York-based Seventh Capital, Monica Mehta is one of the nation’s leading experts on small business and finance. She has appeared on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” and is a regular contributor to Inc. and Entrepreneur. Mehta also is the author of “The Entrepreneurial Instinct,” which explores the idea that everyone has the innate potential to be an entrepreneur.

Jonah Lupton – Jonah Lupton is an investor, mentor and serial entrepreneur. He is the founder of Lupton Media, Nutraspire and Strivved Nutrition. As the host of “Startup Sense,” Lupton has interviewed founders all over the country, giving him unique perspective on entrepreneurship. Lupton also has built a prolific social media following, with CNN Money recognizing him as one of the 25 most influential tech investors on Twitter.

Monika Rydzewski – Monika Rydzewski is a Chicago-based video marketing expert and is the founder of Connect. Inspire. Grow. Monika is a “videopreneur,” helping companies bolster their online presence through video marketing. Monika also has been recognized by the Chicago Tribune as a “video marketing expert.”

Brian Neuner, moderator – Brian Neuner is the director of business development and recruiting coordinator at Joe Machens Dealerships. Neuner is an Emmy award-winning sports journalist, a former host and a play-by-play announcer for Fox Sports.