My Student Experience: Sarah Salahat Unlocks Potential as Entrepreneurship Ambassador
When Sarah Salahat, a junior technology, engineering and design education major, looks through a camera lens, she sees the potential in each perspective.
“You can take the same object and create different stories depending on how you edit the image or the angles that you use,” Salahat said.
It’s the same way she approaches another one of her hobbies; origami.
“It’s always fascinating that you can create so many different objects from the same piece of paper,” she said.
Salahat’s desire to unlock hidden potential is what led her and her fellow Entrepreneurship Ambassadors to pick The Corner, a recently opened collaborative space built out of repurposed shipping containers on NC State’s Centennial Campus, as the host location for a series of events where students learn from entrepreneurs who have already launched their own ventures.
“We saw the new venue, and we said, ‘Hey, let’s make an event to push entrepreneurship and bring some more people out there,’” Salahat said.
So far, the Entrepreneurship Ambassadors have hosted two separate Conversations at The Corner, and event speakers have included Lauren Romer, director of Raleigh Founded; David Baxter, founder of Big Pixel; and Suresh Bhagchandani, founder of ExecSocks. Each one provided a unique perspective on what entrepreneurship can be and who it can be for.
“We want to build this idea for other people and other majors to show that it’s not just business or engineering majors — really anyone can get into it,” Salahat said.
Salahat first got into entrepreneurship when she attended a Make It, Snap it, Sell it session held at the NC State Entrepreneurship Garage. At the event, attendees prototype a design, professionally photograph the result and get the tools they need to sell it.
“What appealed to me was I was really interested in product design,” Salahat said. “I just want to help make solutions for people for whatever issue they have.
After attending the session, Salahat was inspired to join the Entrepreneurship Ambassador program. Her current role with the organization is vice president of programming and treasury. In addition to hosting Conversation at The Corner, the organization also works to promote and support events such as eGames and the Andrews Launch Accelerator. But more than that, they act as a community for creative thinkers.
That’s also what Salahat found in the College of Education’s technology, engineering and design education (TDE) program.
“The community is what drew me [to the program],” Salahat said. “When you’re in TDE, it’s more communal; it’s more comfortable. We’re all pushing each other. We’re all very interested in what each other is doing in a good way.”
In addition to that sense of community, Salahat said she has appreciated the opportunity to gain hands-on training in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, AutoCAD and robotics, as well as the interdisciplinary nature of the program.
“What I like about the program is the creativity,” Salahat said. “No one really leaves with the same career path.”
The career trajectory Salahat wants to pursue is in UX, or user experience, design. Growing up, she noticed the challenges her parents faced using technology, and she wanted to improve their experience. Currently, she is engaged in a co-op at Lenovo, where she ensures products do not have defects or would not cause problems for consumers. She said the skills she’s developed in the technology, engineering and design education program have provided her with new perspectives she can use to solve problems.
“It’s helpful in the way of thinking about certain things,” Salahat said. “For example, just the way things are manufactured. When I took TDE 110: Materials & Processes Technology with [Assistant Teaching Professor] Steven Miller, we learned about different materials and different products and how they react to different situations. Also, just learning about the logic of computers and applying it to the way computers work. Sometimes, if there’s an issue, I can track it.”
Salahat hopes one day to be an entrepreneur herself, using her unique perspective to design solutions for others.
“Part of education is giving back,” Salahat said. “It doesn’t feel fair that I learned everything and then I get to keep it, and I don’t share it.”
Until then, she’ll work toward ensuring her fellow NC State students widen their perspectives and see the potential in entrepreneurship.
“When you present this option to them and tell them you can do it at NC State, it could become life changing,” Salahat said.