Innovation & Entrepreneurship for Health is offered through the College of Health Sciences and teaches students how to create healthcare solutions and products via entrepreneurial methods. Susan Varghese, a junior Cognitive Science major, told me all about how she got involved with entrepreneurship and why she’s so passionate about it.
As a cognitive science major, what drew you to entrepreneurship in general?
Innovation is something I’ve always been passionate about, and it’s a struggle because when I first entered college I had a hard time choosing a major. I knew I wanted to learn something interdisciplinary; something that could apply to multiple things and give me more avenues to pursue. So I ended up in cognitive science instead of entrepreneurship as a major. It was still a dilemma because both are Bachelor’s of Science degrees and I just didn’t have the space in my four year plan. Cognitive science is very related to innovation and creation and that allows me to potentially go into a field where I could create things, and when the certificate program was offered it corresponded with the course load I had and focused on the innovation aspects of it [cognitive science]. With those two things combined it’s so easy for me to be able to pursue entrepreneurship on my own terms.
Are you involved in any extracurricular programs or activities with Horn?
Yeah, I am very involved and I do a lot of extracurricular activities. I was in one of Vince’s Discovery Learning Experience classes and I worked on a startup with him and now I’m working on my own startup with a business partner from the Master's program. It’s called Imperium, a healthcare centered startup that provides ongoing care to cardiac patients. So I spend a LOT of my free time at the Venture Development Center.
Has anything that you’ve learned in the program given you a new perspective or approach to cognitive science?
Yes, hands down. The first course I took for the certificate was the health practicum class, and that was a very hands-on class. In my major you learn a lot of theories and there’s a lot of thinking and mental processing, but that hands-on aspect is honestly kind of lacking. Another reason that I really liked the combination of entrepreneurship and cognitive science because the certificate program allows me to get that hands-on entrepreneurship experience that is invaluable. I can now incorporate it into my schedule which is already insane, and I can add more if I want. When you’re taking classes you’re passionate about, it really changes your perspective on things.
Is there a specific course that you learned the most from?
Oh my, yes. Startup eXperience, ENTR 455 with Vince DiFelice, hands-down! Not everybody brings a startup out of that class and that’s OK, that’s what happened with me and my partner. The skills that we learned in that class were applicable in the real-world. It was a little scary at first, but that’s when the most growth happens. It was such a good experience I think people should try it, even if they aren’t in the program.
Was there anything about Entrepreneurship that surprised you?
Yes actually, and it’s the main thing people tell us in class. Basically, everything in entrepreneurship starts with identifying a problem. Everyone in that class [Startup eXperience] had problems identified and were only focusing on the solution, rather than actually focusing on the problem. We would do bi-weekly presentations throughout the semester, and people would always revert to those things [the solutions], and that was something I didn’t know about. I was actually shocked for the entire class, and then it finally [became] ingrained in me to focus on the problem first and not the solution. When you find a problem you need to validate it and constantly be interviewing and learning.
Do your studies of cognitive science and entrepreneurship overlap or correlate in any way?
It’s interesting, in my opinion entrepreneurship teaches you hands-on skills and things that are transferable and valuable. I always think of things in terms of identifying problems now because of entrepreneurship, but in my major's classes I’m constantly thinking ‘hey, this is some sort of problem that I can solve’. The whole basis of my major is to learn about your mind as an information processor and the different aspects of your mind, that’s helped me with entrepreneurship in a way that has surprised me. In entrepreneurship you are dealing with people and customers, and cognitive science can help me understand them through the psychological side, the biology or the instincts behind decisions. So yeah, they correlate.
Would you recommend the Innovation & Entrepreneurship for Health program to other students?
Yes. I would recommend it. Even if you don’t think that you want to pursue entrepreneurship in the future, I think what you can get out of the certificate program could surprise you. For example, in the next two semesters I‘m taking an intro to biotech class and an intro to public health class for the certificate. Those are two classes I would have never taken for my major, but they are subjects that I’m passionate about and really interested in, and now it turns out I might actually want to pursue a field like that. So for me at least it’s helped. It’s helped a lot of things in my life come full circle, it’s allowed me to be more involved with Horn than I was before, and it’s allowed me to obviously pursue an amazing startup that I’m really excited about. The certificate program is very low risk it's so flexible. I’m no longer worried about graduating [late]. The best is I didn’t know I liked to do it until I did it, only another reason I’d recommend it.
Horn Entrepreneurship offers seven entrepreneurship-based certificates that can help expand students knowledge of entrepreneurship, as well as how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to a wide variety of fields.
Each certificate is a collaboration between Horn Entrepreneurship and one of the seven colleges at the University of Delaware. These certificates offer students the opportunity to enhance their creativity, problem-solving abilities, leadership skills, and much more. Current certificate members offer nothing but praise for the program, and many cite this brief introduction to entrepreneurship as a wonderful starting point for any student who may be interested in business or innovation. To learn more about the certificates offered, check out our introductory article.
These certificate programs only require students to take 9-10 credits in order to reach completion, and many of the current certificate program members have emphasized how manageable and beneficial the certificate program has been for them. They stress how empowering an entrepreneurial education can be, and note that entrepreneurship has evolved their understanding of their other studies as well.
Innovation & Entrepreneurship for Health supplies students with an entrepreneurial approach to issues in healthcare and medical studies. This program may appeal to any student interested in creating new product-based or business based solutions to current issues or gaps within the medical field. If you are interested in revolutionizing an aspect of the healthcare experience or making adaptations to existing medical systems, try the Innovation & Entrepreneurship for Health certificate.
About Horn Entrepreneurship
Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement at the University of Delaware. Currently ranked among the best entrepreneurship programs in the US, Horn Entrepreneurship was built and is actively supported by successful entrepreneurs, empowering aspiring innovators as they pursue new ideas for a better world.