Student Entrepreneurs Take Spotlight

The national spotlight is on Tulane University once again. Just hours after TIME magazine cited Tulane President Scott Cowen as one of the top U.S. college presidents, two teams of Tulane students will appear on MTV and head to New York as finalists in a national "Movers & Changers" competition for social entrepreneurs.

Staffers from MTV interview Tulane social entrepreneurs (seated, from left) Nic LaGatta, Kathryne Shelton and Jay Zhao. Their WET Tea proposal made them finalists. (Photos by Sally Asher)

Tulane teams make up two of the three national finalists, along with a group from the University of California–Berkeley in the competition sponsored by MTV's 24-hour college network, mtvU, and the New York Stock Exchange Euronext.

Competing for $25,000 in startup money, the teams head to New York for NYSE Euronext's Global Entrepreneurship Week: Mentoring Madness, involving students, business leaders and entrepreneurs.

Each team of finalists will present its business plans to a panel of business leaders in the final round of competition.

A short-form series premiering on mtvU today (Nov. 16) features the finalists. An MTV film crew came to New Orleans to record the two teams.

William Kethman and Stephanie Roberts, finalists for their SafeSnip invention, take their turn with the MTV cameras.

The Tulane SafeSnip team of Stephanie Roberts and William Kethman created a disposable, comprehensive unit to accurately clamp and cut umbilical cords, for use in both developing and developed nations. Roberts is a second-year law student, and Kethman is a second-year medical student.

Assisting wetlands restoration is part of the plan for the Tulane WET Tea team of undergraduate business students Nic Lagatta and Jay Zhao, along with recent alumna Kathryne Shelton.

They want to sell an artisan tea, and for each box of tea sold, they will plant a baby cypress tree.

WET Tea founder Zhao said, "We've spent a lot of time in New Orleans and we love this city, so we wanted our project to benefit New Orleans. Right now one of the most urgent issues for New Orleans is wetlands restoration, and we wanted to raise awareness about that with our project."