Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship for Creatives, MA 2024 Cohort

This MAE cohort is the first group of all-women entrepreneurs. Hear from them as they explain their entrepreneurial endeavors.


What motivated you to pursue the Entrepreneurship for Creatives graduate program? 


Ciara Petruna 

My primary motivation for pursuing the Entrepreneurship for Creatives graduate program can be summed up simply: structure. With a decade of work experience, I have consistently prioritized my career over my entrepreneurial aspirations. However, beyond the desire to strengthen my knowledge in strategy, law, and finance, I was driven to commit to this program for the consistency it offers in nurturing my venture through a year of learning and mentorship. I thrive on immersion, and Columbia was one of the few graduate programs I found that actively encourages building your own venture alongside the curriculum. 


Winther Polk 

I was motivated to pursue the Entrepreneurship for Creatives graduate program primarily because of my passion for innovation and creating meaningful impact through business ventures. Accessible Ride Chicago, my business endeavor, aims to address transportation challenges faced by individuals with diverse accessibility needs. The program offered a unique opportunity to gain practical skills, knowledge, and networks tailored to the creative entrepreneurial landscape, enabling me to effectively translate my vision into reality. 


Lynette Hoover 

As a recent graduate from Columbia College Chicago, obtaining my bachelor’s degree in product development with a minor in social media and digital strategies, I was motivated to pursue the Entrepreneurship for Creatives program by my passion for using fashion to spread awareness of mental health. With a solid academic background, I see this program as the perfect opportunity to blend my creative vision with practical business skills. Its hands-on approach and mentorship offer the structure and support I need to confidently launch my venture while staying true to my passion. I’m eager to make a meaningful impact and build a successful business that resonates with others and makes a difference.  


Shemeka Buckner 

Being a successful entrepreneur requires a mix of knowledge, strategy, discipline, experience, and other things that I knew nothing about if I wanted my brand up and running. Entering this program has helped me develop new ways to solve problems and gain insights to navigate the path to success from ideation to market adoption. 


Considering what you’ve learned thus far in your graduate studies, how do you envision your future entrepreneurial endeavors unfolding, and what areas or industries are you particularly passionate about exploring or disrupting? 

Ciara Petruna: We are now just slightly more than halfway through this program, and I already feel remarkably confident about my venture, my next steps, and best practices! I envision launching this year and allowing my venture to unfold organically yet strategically in a way that feels aligned. With a background in sustainability and luxury, I am particularly passionate about the intersection of these fields, especially within the skincare, interior design, and art industries. It’s essential to me to reject mass-production practices and to cultivate a community that approaches sustainability with a holistic and heartfelt mindset. 


Winther Polk: Through my graduate studies, I’ve gained insights into various aspects of entrepreneurship, including business strategy, financial management, and stakeholder engagement. Looking ahead, I envision my entrepreneurial endeavors unfolding in the realm of accessible transportation services and technology solutions. A.R.C represents just the beginning of my journey in disrupting traditional transportation models to create more inclusive and efficient systems for individuals with accessibility needs. 

Additionally, I am passionate about exploring industries such as assistive technology, urban planning, social entrepreneurship, and non-profits. These areas offer opportunities to leverage innovation and creativity to address pressing societal challenges and improve the quality of life for marginalized communities. I aspire to continue innovating and disrupting these spaces, leveraging the skills and insights gained from my graduate studies to drive positive change and create sustainable impact. 


Lynette Hoover: Based on my journey through graduate studies and the Entrepreneurship for Creatives program, I see my entrepreneurial path unfolding in a space close to my heart: where fashion meets mental health awareness and sustainability. I envision launching a fashion brand that not only offers sustainable clothing but also serves as a platform for spreading awareness about mental health for underrepresented communities and garment workers. 

My aim is to shake up the traditional fashion scene by championing inclusivity, authenticity, and self-expression. Through my venture, I want to challenge norms, spark conversations, and advocate for mental health awareness in a way that feels genuine and impactful. 

This journey isn’t just about building a business; it’s about making a difference and staying true to my values. I’m excited to bring my passion and skills together to create something meaningful that resonates with others and contributes positively to our world. 


Shemeka Buckner: After completing this program, I envision myself continuing to develop my clothing brand. I am deeply passionate about the full-figured fashion industry. There has long been a disconnect between reality and the fashion world, and I believe our brand will play a crucial role in bridging this gap within the full-figured fashion industry. 

Additional recognization to:

Stephanie Solis

Jillian Schendel