In 2016, Biola University became the Host Partner of the highly respected Praxis Academy, held annually in August. Approximately 200 Christian students (from 80 universities) come to Biola for a one week intensive on the integration of theology, culture, and entrepreneurship.
Over these past 4 years, 64 Biola students have graduated from the Praxis Academy -- averaging 15 participants per year.
A number of participants in the annual Biola Startup Competition, now in its 5th year, attend the Praxis Academy as the next step in their entrepreneurial journey. And after attending the Praxis Academy, these Biola students lead and or participate in the Biola Entrepreneurship Society (founded in 2017 by Elaine Fung and Ashley Moschetti (both Praxis Academy grads and now also Biola grads).
Nethanya Zapata, a sophomore business student from Guatemala, (pictured left) is this year’s president of the Biola Entrepreneurship Society. She is a graduate of the 2019 Praxis Academy.
In 2019/20, the Biola Entrepreneurship Society plans to take its members through the online Praxis Course. This six-week course lays a great foundation for what it means to be a Redemptive Entrepreneur.
This academic year, the Biola Entrepreneurship Society is also hosting the popular Fireside Chat with an Entrepreneur series, recently featuring such entrepreneurs as Jon Hart, Jordan Terranova, Karissa Le, Steve and Sarah Dubbeldam (pictured right) and Quinn Taber.
Seventeen Biola students and/or alums attended this year’s Praxis Academy, namely: Almesha Oldham, Andrew Pak, Atu Galadima, Betselot Amanuel, Breanne Medrano, Caleb Strauss, Eliabe Gizaw, Farrah Hasen, Jamison Meyerovitz, Nethanya Zapata, Rebecca Collins, Sam Mgrdichian, Sarah Hartono, Tamara Gondo, Thomas Ishikawa, Trisha Mari Porter, and Tulibona Namulemo.
MBA student Tulibona Namulemo (pictured left) says, “One of my biggest takeaways from Praxis Academy is that redemptive entrepreneurship is really a way of life, not just something you start when you are running a business and disregard when you're not.”
Sarah Hartono, sophomore business student/graphic design minor, adds, “So this is what it means to ‘change the world’. At Praxis, I saw living examples of people who don't accept brokenness as it is, but rather look to redeem society and culture through their actions. Unlike many entrepreneurs today, they don't do it for themselves, but you could see in their passion and accomplishments that all they do it all for His glory and to serve others. It's easy to pass over heavily used quotes like 'change the world', but after Praxis I feel like I understand more of what that looks like. I've been awed and extremely grateful to have learned from everyone's wisdom and experiences, and have even already begun to apply their teachings into my daily life!”
Studio Art senior Trisha Porter comments, “Praxis Academy is the community of not only future redemptive entrepreneurs but the true followers of Christ. I am so thankful for the mentors and students around the world that God has been using to teach me to find my unique calling in this world. Praxis is a great start to understanding God's journey for everybody from any field!”
For the second year in a row, Oscar Merlo, Director, Center for the Study of the Work and Ministry of the Holy Spirit Today at Biola, recruited a Praxis Academy (Latin America) Cohort namely: Agustin Grosso (Uruguay), Alexander Hernandez (Venezuela), Andres Felipe Martinez (Colombia), Breanna Medrano (USA), Juan Carlos Campbell (Honduras), Julio Rodriguez (Venezuela), Luis Alva (Mexico), Ruth Alguea (Israel), Osvaldo Montpeller (Cuba), Nico Gomez (Argentina), Nethanya Zapata (Guatemala), and Marisol Arvizu (Mexico).
Reflecting on his experience, Alexander Hernandez (pictured left) says, “Praxis Academy has been one of the best academies I've ever been to. It went beyond my expectations. I have been inspired to continue fighting for a better world and to be able to contribute with my life everything I have learned. Thank you, Biola, for giving me this opportunity and to offer me the best attention.”
Leaders for the Praxis Academy (Latin America) Cohort were David Bahena (Mexico), Esteban Solis (Costa Rica), Joe Rocha (Mexico), Junior Zapata (Guatemala), Kazandra Jacobo Garcia (USA), Oscar Merlo (USA), and Rod Trujillo (USA).
And this year, for the first time, Biola also hosted a Praxis Academy (Africa) Cohort, namely: Ladouce Ndikumwenayo (Kenya), Temy Agboola (Nigeria), Jemimah Atahigwa (Uganda), Moses Nkotanyi (Uganda), and Ife Olagunju (Nigeria).
Ife Olagunju from Port-Harcourt, Nigeria, (pictured left) says, “I've often wondered if it was possible to balance my Christian faith and entrepreneurial ambitions. My mind has held on to the fallacy that I would have to lose one. No more. Praxis has shown me that dependence on Christ is not a drawback, but the solid foundation to propagate positive change in every sphere of life. It has taught me that fellowship with fellow believers is also an atmosphere that births groundbreaking world solutions. Most importantly, Praxis has shown me that the gospel should always be at the center of all we do. Redemption is the way.”
Leaders for the Praxis Academy (Africa) Cohort were Dr. Bulus Galadima, Dr. George Shakwelele, Jordan Terranova, Nehemie Kasereka, and Zachariah Chinne.
And coming from Asia and specifically, Jakarta, was social entrepreneur (and Biola online business student) Tamara Gondo (co-founder of Liberty Society and Director of Second Chance Initiative). Note: Tamara is pictured left with Biola friends and Praxis Academy participants Sarah Hartono (center) and Thomas Ishikawa (right).
Recapping her Praxis Academy experience, Tamara says, “Conceptually, I know our call is to give glory to Jesus and bring Him into our work. Practically, I had let the world’s measuring stick of success to 'hustle harder', make me abuse His gifts and sacrifice the meaningful relationships around me. Praxis community has revealed to me how to safeguard ourselves from the seductive lure of power, money, and success through keeping the means of grace. I can keep the Sabbath and turn off my phone post-dinner time because I trust God is the true CEO.”
In 2020, Biola plans to officially recruit and host a Praxis Academy (Asia) Cohort.
Praxis Academy is the next-generation division of Praxis, a creative engine advancing redemptive entrepreneurship. Over a multi-generational time horizon, its aim is to help followers of Christ gain a vision for working across sectors with a redemptive imagination, seeing their work as an embodied apologetic for their beliefs. Praxis has worked alongside 200 entrepreneurs in 40+ countries through the Business and Nonprofit Accelerators, and over 750 next-generation leaders through Praxis Academy.
The fee to attend Praxis Academy is US $995.00. Many Biola students receive full or partial scholarships due to the generosity of donors supporting Biola and the Crowell School of Business.
Registration for Praxis Academy 2020 begins 1Q.
Biola University is a nationally ranked Christian university in the heart of Southern California. Founded in 1908, Biola offers biblically-centered education, intentional spiritual development and vocational preparation within a unique learning community where all faculty, staff, and students are professing Christians.