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On course for success Hawk Country is latest student company created at Monmouth’s entrepreneurial center

Members of John Buzza's Entrepreneurship class at Monmouth University hold samples of Hawk Country's Hawkolate Chip Bar. The company and their allergen-free protein bar came from an idea in the class.

John Buzza sees it every day in his classroom: Today’s youth increasingly want to work for themselves.

That’s why he has restructured his curriculum to enlighten entrepreneurial students not through lecture, but by actually creating small businesses.

That’ll teach them.

“What we’re teaching is the alternative to corporate America — which isn’t for everybody,” Buzza said.

“But entrepreneurship and franchising is as big as it’s ever been in this country because people are becoming dissuaded from corporate America due to downsizing and decreased loyalty.”

That focus has resulted in 20 full-fledged working businesses for graduates — eight of which are still in existence and owned by students. That’s also why Buzza, the director of the Monmouth University Center for Entrepreneurship within the Leon Hess Business School, received the 2010 national honor for having created the “Most Innovative Entrepreneurship Course” by the U.S. Association for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs.

From dog biscuits to powdered energy drinks to paper water bottles, Buzza’s class has motivated and inspired nearly 10 years’ worth of entrepreneurs and business in New Jersey.

The latest?

Hawk Country, the producer of the Hawklet Chip Bar — an all-natural, gluten-free granola bar that is free of the top eight allergens responsible for 90 percent of all food-related allergic reactions: wheat, eggs, milk, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.

Each business starts with a student’s idea — and this time, it was the brainchild of junior Brittany Lamb.

“A lot of companies don’t take labeling their products seriously,” Lamb said. “For instance, a company mislabeled a wrapper and my cousin had a very serious reaction. All he wants is to be able to bring a safe snack bar to soccer practice.”

Meg Fry

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