Two undergraduate students recently captured half of the awards in the 2008 N.J. Student Entrepreneur of the Year competition, continuing a growing tradition of excellence in the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

Two undergraduate students recently captured half of the awards in the 2008 N.J. Student Entrepreneur of the Year competition, continuing a growing tradition of excellence in the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

Dan Jamet of East Windsor, N.J., a senior Entrepreneurial Studies major, received second place for his landscape design, building and maintenance company, Garden Artisans, LLC. Vincent Padalino of Lawrenceville, N.J., a junior Entrepreneurial Studies major, received fourth place for his firm that sells custom designed T-shirts, Vestiwear, LLC. Jamet and Padalino were recognized at an awards ceremony on Wednesday, May 7, at the Rothman Institute at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck.

Counting this year, Rider students have now won 10 times in this competition since 1998, but this year establishes an unprecedented standard for Rider, as the University has never had more than one winner in a single competition, said Dr. Ronald Cook, professor of Entrepreneurial Studies and Director of Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. Cook, who entered Jamet and Padalino in the contest, believes that Rider has had more winners in this competition than any other institution of higher education in New Jersey.

“To me, it’s a belief that our students’ entrepreneurial ambitions are equal to or better than students at other higher education institutions,” Cook said. “The fact that Rider students are winning two of the four honors this year is simply a credit to our students and their entrepreneurial spirit.”

Last year, Jamet won second place for his lawn service business, Blades Lawn and Landscape, which he launched in the summer of 2005. Over the past year, Jamet combined his business and with his brother’s landscaping business, and Garden Artisans, LLC was born. So how does it feel to score another title in the competition?

“It feels good because it recognizes you are a student running a business,” Jamet said. “It’s definitely tough to run the business and attend classes at the same time.”

The graduating senior said the Entrepreneurial Studies program allows students to gain practical experience.

“You definitely learn a lot of practical things that you wouldn’t necessarily learn in the classroom,” Jamet explained.

For Padalino, this is his first award in the competition.

“I’m honored to be recognized for something I started,” said Padalino, who expressed his gratitude for Cook’s support in his academic decisions.

Last year, Padalino started the business, which evolved from a conversation he had with his brother discussing a slogan for a T-shirt, and he thought “Why can’t I do this?” Padalino, who also co-owns Palermos III in Ewing, N.J., with his father, said people, movies and experiences he encounters gives him inspiration to design graphic T-shirts.

“It’s like waking up everyday and getting inspired by the things around you,” Padalino said.

The competition recognizes entrepreneurs who run their own ventures while pursuing an undergraduate degree. Students are judged on customer service, quality, obstacles overcome, growth potential, community outreach, milestones and strategies. In the New Jersey competition, there are first, second, third and fourth place awards. The first and second place winners are awarded $1,000 and $500, respectively, while third and fourth place win $300 and $200.