Study Abroad Program Sparks Entrepreneurship
February 19, 2013
Texas A&M Bush School graduate Adrian Calcaneo got more than he expected from participating in the School’s study abroad program in Canada last March. He was inspired after graduation to start a nonprofit organization, The Council for North American Policy, which will foster an understanding of the contemporary political, social, and economic issues confronting the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
The Council aims to increase public awareness and appreciation of the joint trade potential and cooperation opportunities of the region and promote the importance of a strong intra-North American working relationship, particularly with energy, trade, security and public policy issues. The Council will be based in Houston, and already has citizens from all three North American countries as members.
“The project will be launched next week in Mexico City, where I’ll present my concepts at Universidad de las Americas before a group of government officials, academics, students, and others” Calcaneo said. “The idea occurred to me during the program in Canada last year. Since my Capstone project was based on economic development and talked about partnerships and ‘coopetition,’ it made sense to start the organization at a country level. It would not have happened without the Canada experience,” he added.
Calcaneo has said that he hopes the new nonprofit will be able to tap into Bush School students’ training and skill sets. Several Bush School students are already working with Calcaneo: Brenda Sarmiento, class of 2011; Ramon Gonzalez, class of 2012; and Jon Aitchison, Caitlin Harwood, and Morgan Miller, class of 2013.
“One of the reasons I wanted to start this nonprofit is to give back to the Bush School,” Calcaneo said. “I want to be able to provide meaningful internships and jobs, and rely on the growing student network to move this organization forward.”
During the Bush School’s 2012 spring break recess, seventeen students spent four days in Ottawa and two days in Montreal visiting Canadian government departments, the US Embassy, and the Paterson School of International Affairs at Carlton University. In Montreal, the students took part in a graduate conference at McGill University’s Centre for International Peace and Security Studies and visited with the Canadian Border Services Agency.
Bush School Acting Dean Andrew Card said Calcaneo’s initiative shows how the Bush School encourages entrepreneurship in public service. “Adrian’s new organization has the potential to make a significant difference in the region,” he said. “We value and encourage entrepreneurship and are always delighted to see our graduates finding new and innovative ways to serve others.”