Fairmont State University’s senior Emily Gersper earned a spot as a finalist for the West Virginia Collegiate Business Competition, the first finalist to come from the University, and then went on to break the Feaster Center Pool 100-yard breaststroke record on Friday, January 31, 2020.
Gersper, a business administration major with a concentration in marketing and four-year student athlete, pitched her project West Virginia Storybook weddings in the morning and then competed Friday night in the meet against West Virginia Tech.
Pat Snively, head men’s and women’s swimming coach, said he ran into her during the competition and found himself giving her a pre-race talk.
“She already seemed pretty calm and collected. I really think that being a student-athlete and performing in pressure situations so often helps in other areas of life,” he said. “It was great to hear that she so successful in this competition and then to see her perform so well in the pool. It was a great night to celebrate the seniors and especially great for Emily as she is seeing the culmination of her student-athlete experience as such a positive.”
In addition to the 100 breaststroke, she also won the 200 breaststroke and 200 individual medley and teamed with fellow seniors Dias, Rowe, and Crandall to win the 200 yard medley relay.
The Parkersburg native was the only Fairmont State student to compete in the Collegiate Business semifinals.
“I got involved in the competition through my marketing professor, Jim Davis. In my New Production Decisions class, we were required to come up with a new business idea for our class project. I had been thinking about the business I created for a while and finally decided to start working on it for this project,” she said. “With the idea already started, it made it easier for me to join the competition since I was already working on it.”
Her business is a one-stop wedding shop for every product and service related to weddings. Ranging from wedding dresses to planning services and accessories to vendors, all services she wants to provide are from local vendors or those as local as possible.
"I love West Virginia. My goal of my business is to help improve the capabilities of the small-town entrepreneurs we are blessed with in our communities,” she said. "I was not born here but have been raised here since I was 10 years old, and I feel as though West Virginia and Fairmont State University are my home."
Gersper said this project has allowed her to better understand the amount of work and dedication it takes to come up with the idea of starting business.
“Up to this point, I have spent countless hours thinking and writing down how my business can work. I’ve also learned how passionate I am about starting my business and the wedding industry,” she said. “I feel so lucky to be able to represent Fairmont State University and the School of Business. I have a true passion for this and I am grateful that I can continue to work on it for this competition. I would like to thank Jim Davis, my mentor and coach through this process so far, for all of his help.”
Davis, assistant professor for the School of Business, said Gersper has worked very hard on her project since they began in the fall 2019 semester.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of Emily and all the hard work she has put into this effort,” he said. "By advancing to the finals, Emily will be awarded $1,000.00 to help her prepare for the finals. Finalists will be competing for up to $20,000 in seed capital.”
For more information about the competition, you can visit www.businessplanwv.com.