BY: Kelsins V. Santos
The students at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM) are constantly looking for new ways to exercise their creativity and professions. The good professors of Business Administration decided to put this positive energy to good use by creating a laboratory where students not only learn but gain hands on experience from the field. This desire materialized into Huella Colegial, a student operated café that provides calm, relaxing atmosphere not only for the UPRM community but also for anyone who wants to just sit down and have a good cup of coffee.
Huella Colegial did not simply come out of the blue; this project has been in the works since the beginning of the fall 2011 semester. At first, it might look like Huella Colegial was a one in done deal, but it was exactly the opposite. Special documents and permissions were needed to start off Huella Colegial, like any up and coming business. Thanks to the students of the basic marketing class, and with plenty of dedication and hard work they were able to put together all the needed papers to kick of the production of this awesome café.
“This business is an initiative of the basic marketing class and the staff of the College of Business Administration; in this business we apply everything that we have learned in class and it serves as a laboratory for us to acquire experience” said Yarleen Velez, a student part of the
Sponsorship committee of Huella Colegial. This business was student produced, many possible sponsors backed out on giving their support, but there were still many that graciously assisted, such as Bimbo, Extreme Gel and Malta India; local businesses also assisted giving a helping hand.
Though Huella Colegial is in its beginning stages of development, students were confident that this idea would rise and take flight. As soon as word got out that Huella Colegial was in the works, many ex-alumnae and professors of the UPRM were willing to help. “Many alumni were present to help out with the development of this great idea. Those people that have seen the UPRM grow throughout the years were very motivated to lend a helping hand, that of which we needed much of.” She continued on to say, “their presence was a blessing for the students and staff.”
Like any business, money is the most important thing needed to progress. The students who are part of the project established a quota of 5 dollars per students to get the project started. Fundraisers and other activities were also done to gather funds. “Students were very willing to help this organization grow, it has been a lot of hard work but we finally made it” said Liz Vasquez, a student member of the accounting committee of the organization.
The debut of Huella Colegial took place on October 24, 2011, at 7:30 pm where it opened its doors to the public for the first time after an amazing, entertaining ceremony. The inaugural activities included songs performed by the UPRM’s choir group, songs interpreted by the UPRM’s Band and words spoken by Mayaguez’s own Mayor Hon. Jose Guillermo Rodriguez among others. The locale sported a very college themed look and atmosphere; recyclable materials were used as decoration for table pieces and pillars. UPRM Memorabilia was presented all over the café, which was also for sale. Food and refreshments were being sold, all at a bargain price. The locale also had a stage. “Huella Colegial will not only provide a comfortable atmosphere for customers, but also entertainment. We will present dramas, bands and poetry among other things for the clients to enjoy!” said Liz “It will just be a purely enjoyable experience for all.”
The feel during the debut was one of warmth. It was obvious that students actually shared a personal connection with Huella Colegial and what it stood for. “The other students and me put a whole lot of work into making Huella Colegial become a reality, I really look forward to putting in work and effort to help push this business forward” stated Yarleen. She, like most students part of this project, has worked tirelessly to make sure that their project makes a difference. Employees of Huella Colegial are the very students who built it, and it seemed that all were excited for the opportunity to be part of something. “Establishing Huella Colegial and the experience that it will give me while I work there will keep me a step ahead when the time comes,” Liz observed.
Huella Colegial serves as an inspiration to all those hoping and aspiring to open their own businesses. With teamwork, dedication and hard work anything is possible, just ask the students that made it happen.