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Nick and Jan Laurent

Aligning Talent with Opportunity for the Good of Emporia

Photo of Nick and Jan Laurent, donors to Emporia State University

Nick and Jan Laurent focus on philanthropy and community building

A city is its people. Its vibrancy comes from the efforts of those who live and work in it. The businesses they build. The services they provide. The opportunities they create for the next generation.

Nick and Jan Laurent have a passion for building community and helping Emporia State University students find success. They see engaging the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs as key to achieving both goals. Through philanthropy, they have found a way to make these passions serve one another.

To make their vision a reality, the Laurents recently contributed to Emporia State University’s Together, Forward campaign. Their gift will support the Emporia community and ESU School of Business students working to achieve their education goals. They hope that by supporting real-world learning opportunities, through local internships, students will uncover ways to build their careers in Emporia after graduation.

Part of their gift is creating the Nick Laurent Emporia Internship Fund. This fund includes a partnership with Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce to place students in internships with local businesses whose needs align with the students’ skills and education track. Each student will also have an ESU faculty member as an advisor, and the internship will appear on their transcript.

Another component of the Laurent’s gift builds upon the work of ESU’s Studio E advertising collective. The student staff of Studio E provide a variety of marketing services to the public while getting hands-on experience in career fields like graphic design, marketing and public relations.

Although distinctive from one another, both real-world learning initiatives deliver many benefits to the community and students. “These programs do two things. Number one, students engage in work that aligns with their career goals. Number two, it gives them a chance to network with community and business leaders, which will provide them with more knowledge about the opportunities available in Emporia,” said Ed Bashaw, dean of the School of Business.

Internships can be the finishing touch that rounds out the educational experience and prepares soon-to-be graduates for the next step in launching their careers. “College courses provide theoretical knowledge and active learning, but there are things you learn from an internship you couldn’t learn in the classroom. Being in the workplace dynamic helps propel your professional career in a completely different way. My internship was an important part of my college experience,” said IT Web and Media Specialist at Emporia State, Saandhyarag Sasidhar, a BizHornet graduate and former local intern.

Emporia State has always been a source of talent for the community. 23% of Emporia State’s 2019-2020 graduates reported employment in Lyon County after graduation. With more opportunities like the internships the Laurents are making possible, the pathway for students to stay local after college will grow, which is good for all Emporians.

“The big picture is to make Emporia a better community. These internships do that by providing talent pipelines to Emporia businesses,” said Bashaw.