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A Foundation for Innovation

Emily Neville smiling at work station with coffee and laptop

Emily Neville, a rising junior at NC State University, admits she hasn’t had a typical college experience. But that’s hardly a bad thing.

Neville — who already is CEO of her own company — credits much of her success to the university and its generous supporters.

“NC State is special because we truly think and do. I see it encompassed in everything,” Neville said. “I could’ve gone to other universities and focused more on academia, but I knew I wanted to go somewhere that told me I didn’t have to wait to get involved with what I was passionate about. At NC State, I was told, ‘You can do this now, and we’ll support you along the way.’”

As a senior in high school, Neville was offered a prestigious Park Scholarship. The four-year scholarship at NC State covers tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, travel and personal expenses. Park Scholars also are eligible for grants to fund professional and personal enrichment experiences.

While the Park Scholarships program played a key role in Neville’s decision to attend NC State, it also didn’t hurt that she has deep family ties at the university. Both of her parents and her older sister, who was part of the Caldwell Fellows Program, are NC State alumni.

A political science major with intended minors in business administration and French, Neville founded Reborn Clothing Co. as a college sophomore. The company is committed to reducing textile waste by transforming garments with nostalgic value into usable products.

Reborn started in NC State’s Entrepreneurship Garage and now operates out of a co-working space called Loading Dock Raleigh.

“It’s been an incredible journey already,” Neville said of Reborn. In addition to the Garage, she has taken advantage of a number of resources at NC State for budding entrepreneurs, including the Entrepreneurship Mentorship Program, which connects students with business mentors from across the Triangle. Neville also has been able to participate in the Entrepreneurship Initiative’s spring break trip to Silicon Valley, where she was able to network with NC State and Park Scholarships alumni in the region.

The annual trip is helmed by Dr. Tom Miller – McPherson Family Distinguished Professor of Engineering Entrepreneurship, as well as senior vice provost for academic outreach and entrepreneurship and executive director of the Entrepreneurship Initiative.

“The trip was possible due to the generosity of NC State alumni,” Neville said.

Neville also credits being a Park Scholar with helping to make other unique opportunities possible, including interning in the U.S. House of Representatives and the North Carolina General Assembly. She is now working to bring a Boys & Girls Club to Harnett County, where she grew up.

“The Park Scholarships program gave me the financial security and stability to start my own company and pursue extracurricular activities, projects and goals that would not otherwise be possible,” she said.

Although she is a student in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Neville said support from students and faculty in the College of Textiles and from the Park Scholarships program was instrumental in launching Reborn. The company often participates in community events to help make sustainable fashion more accessible. Reborn also has partnered with the Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department to teach young girls basic sewing skills and to encourage entrepreneurship and female empowerment.

“I think for-profit companies can do a lot of good in the community,” Neville said. “As members of the Wolfpack, we’re challenged to be innovative, to be leaders in our fields and to take that extra step to give back to the community.”

She’s grateful to those who have made her experiences at NC State possible through their support of the university and the Park Scholarships program.

“I see their support as an investment, and I want to make good on that investment by working hard to continue the legacy that they left behind for us,” Neville said. “I don’t have my life plan figured out, but I know that NC State has given me the foundation I need to go into any industry I choose because of the intersectionality across campus.”

This post was originally published in Giving News.