Colin Hurley, director of community engagement at Mercyhurst, has been nominated for Social Impact Entrepreneur of the Year at the first annual Disrupt Erie Awards.
The Disrupt Erie Awards encourage collaboration and entrepreneurial activity in the region and the Social Impact Entrepreneur of the Year Award is given to an individual that has had profound, positive impact on the community’s well being over the past year.
Hurley, who works in the Service Learning Office, works with both faculty and community businesses and organizations to help students get connected with local service opportunities.
He works alongside Bethany Brun, coordinator of service learning at Mercyhurst, to guide the partnership process and oversee programs. His job involves focusing the long-term vision of the department.
“He’s one of the most passionate individuals,” said Brun. “[He is] a strategic thinker and a go-getter who is constantly thinking of how to improve and is never satisfied with the status quo.”
As for Hurley, he was surprised about the nomination. According to Brun, he actually thinks a different nominee, from an organization called Box of Light, should win, which shows his constant effort to improve and to never be fully satisfied with his work.
“Being nominated for the social impact category was quite a surprise. Honestly, I think part of the reality of being nominated comes down to awareness and social connection. I’m fortunate that my position at Mercyhurst puts me in touch with many people in the local community,” Hurley said.
Hurley was nominated for a local project called Spark Tank, which provides the opportunity for Mercyhurst students with a great idea, like launching a business or creating a new campus-wide initiative, to move those ideas forward with crowdfunding support.
The basic idea of the project is to provide support for a student-driven venture and to spark innovation at Mercyhurst, according to Hurley.
Spark Tank also received a $5,000 sponsorship from Benjamin Franklin Technology Partners, which Hurley hopes will be a catalyst to help the project’s successes for this year and years to come.
As for the future of the Service Learning Department, Hurley said, “Similarly to its physical location now being more central and accessible, I foresee and hope this is the case with regard to its role in general at MU in the future.”
Voting for the Disrupt Erie Awards remains open until Oct. 30.