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GG Murgia, Editor

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Well-rounded doesn’t even begin to describe senior Gülnur Avci. From starting her own club, to playing in the band, to even earning a Congressional Award, Avci literally does it all.

This past summer, Avci earned the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take part in the Launch X Summer Entrepreneurship Program at Northwestern University. For five weeks, Avci challenged herself in this rigorous program to create her own company.

“Last school year, I started to look at summer programs that I could attend,” Avci said. “When I finally came across the Launch X Entrepreneurship Program, I was intrigued by all that the program had to offer and I was looking to make an impact, so I decided to apply.”

Avci and her fellow aspiring entrepreneurs were divided into different teams to create their own unique product. Each individual had to label themselves as a Builder, Brander, or Business Developer. From there, the company formed cohesive teams of four based on the participants’ skills and passions.

Once the teams were established, it was finally time to brainstorm a product; Avci’s team designed the PyroSleeve, a semi-flexible, insulated sleeve that fits over any standard paper, heating drinks and keeping a consistent temperature.

A great deal of time and effort went into making this battery-operated heated sleeve to ensure that Avci and her team put forth the best product.

“First, we needed to figure out the physics, like the power, voltage, and resistance needed. Then, we had to find the correct materials; the right lithium ion batteries, wire, switches, etc.,” Avci said. “Once this was completed and we tested to see if the calculations worked, my team and I built the prototype.”

After all of the teams finalized their products, it was time to present them at the Launch X Demo. This presentation consisted of a five-minute pitch and a three-minute question and answer session.

“My favorite part about the demo was seeing for myself all of the hard work my team and I did for five weeks unfold into real companies,” Avci said. “It felt amazing when our presentation was over and we received a roaring round of applause after our drink was warmed from the Pyrosleeve.”

Even though the program took place several months ago, Avci still keeps in touch with members from her team as they work on expanding their product.

“We have a Limited Liability Company with Delaware and a $4,500 grant to continue our company,” Avci said. “We have a growth timeline and the next step is to do more market research and make slight changes to our design to ensure it is market ready.”

The Launch X Summer Entrepreneurship Program was extremely beneficial for Avci. All of the skills and advice she acquired over the five weeks will definitely play a big role in the future.

“From the program, I learned that teamwork is KEY. Nothing will succeed if there is not a good team behind the product,” Avci said. “Investors invest on the team more than the idea, so if the team is good, then they will make the idea work.”

After Avci attended this program, she felt more people could benefit from the skills and lessons she learned. With this in mind, Avci was determined to bring the Launch X Entrepreneurship Club to Bangor High School.

“I worked extremely hard to get the Launch X Entrepreneurship Club at our school,” Avci said. “I had to personally get an extension for the applications from Launch X. Then, I, along with club advisors Mr. Perelli and Mrs. Buck, had to work with the school administration and Launch X in order to get the club started in time for this school year. Fortunately, we received enough funding from two different sources to sustain the club and we were able to kickstart the program this year.”

With the goal in mind to teach peers about entrepreneurship and to create sustainable companies, this newly established club is jam-packed with valuable lessons and skills that will allow members to thrive in the world.

“In the club, we form cofounder teams of 3-6 people to start their own companies that solve an issue they find in the world. Launch X provides us with lessons, resources, and mentors to guide us through starting a company,” Avci said. “The club’s culture is very similar to that of a real company; no matter what position, every club member supports, respects, and helps each other.”

As if these activities weren’t enough, Avci also spent a good portion of her high school career striving to earn a Congressional Award. In order to receive this highly-acclaimed award, individuals must complete the following 4 categories: Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Activity, and Exploration/Expedition.

Congressional Award Participants can earn a gold, silver, or bronze certificate and a gold, silver, or bronze medal. The hours and requirements increase from the lower certificates to the higher medals. Avci’s commitment to the program allowed her to receive the second highest honor, the silver medal.

“I worked on my goals to achieve the Congressional Award for about 2 ½ years,” Avci said. “In that time period, I did everything from volunteering for 200 hours to exploring New York City for 3 days.”

200 hours of community service may seem like a lot, but the hours flew by for Avci.

“Most of the community service hours I obtained came from volunteering at a nursing home,” Avci said. “The time I spent there was rather enjoyable as I participated in activities like singing, dancing, cooking, arts and crafts, and playing the flute and piano for the residents to enjoy.”

Besides having the satisfaction of wearing a well-deserved medal around her neck, the Congressional Award has had a tremendous impact on Avci’s life.

“This award has channeled my love for volunteering, has taught me to be well-balanced, to appreciate life, and to go out and discover places,” Avci said. “All of these things that I have learned through this award will certainly be important skills to have in the future.”

As Avci’s high school career is coming to a close, she is excited to put all of the skills and lessons she has learned over the years to use.

“I plan to major in electrical and computer engineering with a minor in business,” Avci said. “I chose this as my major because I like both computer science and engineering and I see great potential in combining two very versatile fields to solve increasingly complex problems. With this major, I hope to one day work with a large tech company to advance technology and find its applications, while also running my own startup.”

There’s no doubt that Avci has a bright, successful future ahead of her. Whether it will be buying her newest product in stores or seeing her pitch her life-changing company on the latest episode of Shark Tank, Avci will most certainly make her mark on this world.