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2019 Women Entrepreneurship Week Panel

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For Immediate Release

October 22, 2019


Women Mean Business: The Founder's Journey 


  Western Kentucky University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and the Department of Management teamed together to hold the 2019 Women Entrepreneurship Week Panel. This panel featured 3 women entrepreneurs: Demetria Gilkey, Dr. Azurdee Garland and Amira Zukic. While they all have different backgrounds, each of them have something in common- they paved their own path to success in their respective fields.

     Demetria Gilkey, is a WKU alumni. She initially wanted to be a lawyer, but when those plans changed she had to think about what to do with her life. “It was a matter of time, and when, and how, that I would become a business owner. I knew I wanted to be one, but I just didn’t know when it would happen,” said Gilkey. She graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing.  Soon after, she ended up opening her own hair salon and discovering another passion. Hair stylists tend to build personal relationships with clients and in a sense she felt like she was a coach for people’s confidence. She was not only transforming hair, she was also transforming lives. She absolutely loved the feeling it gave her and she wanted to do this full time. “The desire is there for a reason. You just have to try it out,” said Gilkey. She ultimately decided to become a certified life coach.  This career move ended up opening many doors for her. In addition to life coaching, she is now an inspirational speaker, as well as an emcee. “Within the past year/year and a half I have tried to get my name out there. One of my proudest moments was being a conference speaker in Las Vegas.”

    Dr. Azurdee Garland worked at WKU 15 years ago. While at WKU, she realized there was a great need in the area to bring awareness to the worldwide issue of human trafficking, since it was happening in this community. Dr. Garland worked hard to turn her idea into a reality through the non-profit organization, Phoenix Rising. The mission of Phoenix Rising Inc. is “to serve children, youth, & young adults (up to and including age 21) affected by domestic minor sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. It provides safe spaces for those receiving services.” Dr. Garland mentioned that her non-profit focuses heavily on education. They have to make people in the community aware of what is going on around them. This way, they can be prepared and have knowledge on what to do/how to handle it when a situation transpires.

   All of the panelists gave many pieces of sound advice. The piece of advice that Dr. Garland gave the students is, “Walk away from situations that are not moving you forward.” This piece of advice is able to transcend time. Everyone can keep this advice in mind and refer back to it on many different occasions- it will always keep its relevance.

   Amira Zukic and her husband are the owners of TAZ Trucking, a successful trucking company in Bowling Green, KY. “I have always had high ambition and I knew I wanted to do something more.” said Zukic. Her high ambition is what ignited her desire to become an entrepreneur. TAZ Trucking started with two key people and one key thing: Amira, her husband, and her husband’s truck. The businesses’ humble beginnings has allowed Amira to truly appreciate the strides TAZ Trucking has made over time. It was evident how proud Amira was of these gains as she explained how much her company has grown over the past few years. They ended up growing out of their old office, so they recently built a new state of the art facility. TAZ Trucking’s new building now houses over 150 employees and 110 trucks. “If you are not growing in a business, you are just going backwards. At TAZ Trucking, we concentrate on growth.” said Zukic.

   “This was a tremendous panel of Women Entrepreneurs, who showcased such a variety of skillsets and experiences. We all took so much away from what they had to share at the event. These kinds of events create a wonderful opportunity for students to expand their knowledge base and their network.” said Dr. Whitney Peake, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

    The panelists shared their individual stories about their journeys and important advice. WKU students also had the opportunity to ask questions to the panelists. They learned about the good, the bad and the ugly that comes along with owning a business.

 More than 200 universities in various countries participate in Women’s Entrepreneurship Week each year.


 About The Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

The mission of the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation is to increase and develop entrepreneurial students through engaged learning, by enhancing connections across campus, and in strengthening community relationships.

“Making connections to and for Entrepreneurial Students!”

Make sure to follow The Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation on Twitter and Instagram (@WKU_ENT), Facebook ( http://www.facebook.com/ceiwku ) as well as our website       ( http://www.wku.edu/cei ) to stay updated on Center events and also on how to #StartSomething

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Dr. Whitney Peake at 270.745.4142 or email at entrepreneurship@wku.edu.


















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 Last Modified 12/5/19