Eight student entrepreneurs learned from Dan Gilbert, Denise Ilitch, Ian Conyers, Orlando Bailey, and Clarissa Shields

On November 30th, eight Cass Tech students who are part of the Career Technical Education (CTE) department’s Business and Marketing class were invited to attend the Freep Breakfast Club, which brings together local leaders to network and discuss important issues.

Cass Tech educator Ashley Edmond selected Eliezondo Pettis, Brynn Johnson, Armani Johnson, Keni Willis, Darnell Stallings, Ryan Bell, Micah Combs, Rihanna Hunt, all of whom are currently either operating their own businesses or are in the early stages of launching entrepreneurial ventures. A core element of the Cass Tech’s CTE program mission is to impart valuable career-oriented skills that will facilitate a smooth transition for students from school life to their professional lives.

“My primary goal is to guide and support my students in their journey towards successful careers beyond highschool,” Ashley Edmonds explained. “My classroom mirrors a real-world office setting, which creates the foundation for my students to transform into Marketing Associates who adhere to office policies, embrace punctuality, and actively collaborate with their peers. This approach fosters a practical and immersive learning experience, preparing them for the challenges and expectations of the professional world.”

As part of the Detroit Public Schools Foundation’s (DPSF) mission to support career training and educational enrichment, the Foundation secured the invitation for the students as well as facilitated the transportation to the Freep event at the Townsend in Birmingham. 

During the event, students learned valuable business lessons, including the importance of pushing boundaries, turning setbacks or failures into opportunities, and how important it is to make connections and build their networks. They had come equipped with their own virtual business cards, so were able to take immediate action on this final lesson, and successfully connect with several of the influential figures present.

“This experience had a profound impact on both myself and the students,” Ms. Edmonds shared. “Specifically, learning about resilience in the face of challenges, and how something that seems like a setback should instead be considered as an opportunity for growth. This, in and of itself, should be considered a guiding principle in business — but we were also inspired by their encouragement to push boundaries, put ourselves out there to make connections, and be fearless in how we approach entrepreneurship.”

During the breakfast, attendees received Dan Gilbert’s email address, which many of the students plan to use this upcoming Spring as they secure internship opportunities. Ms. Edmonds plan to incorporate writing an email to Mr. Gilbert as part of an upcoming class lesson on email etiquette and professionalism. “Including this real-world experience in our class lessons is yet another way that we’re preparing our students with practical and actionable skills that will ensure their future success,” noted Ms. Edmonds. “My aim is to teach them the importance of crafting professional and assertive requests, enhance their communication skills, and lay the foundation for their future interactions in the professional world.”


See photos from the event!