Paying It Forward

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Blakney, Avinger, and Mayernick

Blakney, Avinger, and Mayernick

Davidson Entrepreneurial Scholarship contributors celebrate their friend and mentor, Robert L. Avinger ’60.

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By Cathryn Westra

Davidson alumni have created a scholarship to encourage business-minded students to pursue their dreams. Created as the Davidson Entrepreneurial Scholarship, contributors insisted it be renamed in honor of Robert L. Avinger ’60, their friend, mentor, and—in some cases— former Davidson professor of economics. The scholarship is intended for students who demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit and creativity that shows promise of future success in business or civic engagement.

The first recipients are Jared Blakney ’14 and Tori Mayernick ’14, both of whom intend to pursue graduate business studies.

In summer 2008 Blakney and his brother founded Generations Tee Shirt Co., a socially conscious clothing company. Mayernick has served as president and marketing manager for Hives for Lives, which directs profits from honey sales toward cancer research.

“The biggest motivator was the encouragement from our parents to pursue our vision,” said Blakney. He and his brother donate a portion of the proceeds from T-shirts they design and sell to “charity: water,” a nonprofit organization providing sources of clean drinking water to communities throughout the world. Mayernick, a political science major, began working with Hives for Lives as a “helper bee,” assisting best friends who founded the company in honor of their great-grandfather who died of cancer in 2011.

“Hives for Lives started out as a small, high school club that sold honey products at local fairs and markets,” explained Mayernick. “Then we were recognized by Whole Foods Market at a ‘pow-wow’ to promote small businesses. Whole Foods started selling our honey and we made a lot of sales.”

Mayernick became vice president of marketing, and as demand sky-rocketed, she negotiated a deal that took their product to nine out of the 11 regions of Whole Foods stores nationwide. They now sell honey in more than 30 states and have donated more than $170,000 to cancer research.

Avinger Scholarship recipients will receive funding during their junior and senior years to apply toward their entrepreneurial interests, or toward their Davidson educations. The scholarship also offers them support and advice for their projects and careers from a professional entrepreneurial advisory committee.

Photo Credit: Bill Giduz

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