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LaunchWakeForest graduates 12


A ceremony for the 2022 LaunchWakeForest graduates was held Tuesday at the Wake Forest Renaissance Centre. Shown in the first row from left are Francine Sweet, Kelly Hester and Dr. Francemise Kingsberry; in the second row, Valerie Grasso and Evette Smith; third row, LaSonda Stasinopoulos and Racqueal Williams; fourth row, Antonio Bryan, Chris Ballen and Andrew McCook. Also standing next to the graduates are LaunchWakeForest program administrator Brad Walker and instructor Dr. Larry Woods. Not pictured: Dr. Betsy Bell and Afiba Campbell.  Junious Smith III | The Wake Weekly

A ceremony for the 2022 LaunchWakeForest graduates was held Tuesday at the Wake Forest Renaissance Centre. Shown in the first row from left are Francine Sweet, Kelly Hester and Dr. Francemise Kingsberry; in the second row, Valerie Grasso and Evette Smith; third row, LaSonda Stasinopoulos and Racqueal Williams; fourth row, Antonio Bryan, Chris Ballen and Andrew McCook. Also standing next to the graduates are LaunchWakeForest program administrator Brad Walker and instructor Dr. Larry Woods. Not pictured: Dr. Betsy Bell and Afiba Campbell. Junious Smith III | The Wake Weekly

WAKE FOREST — A graduation ceremony was held for the fifth class of LaunchWakeForest at the Wake Forest Renaissance Centre Tuesday.
LaunchWakeForest is an organization focused on developing entrepreneurs with limited access to financial and business resources during a 13-week course. The program, sponsored by Wake Forest Rotary, the Wake Forest Chamber of Commerce, Wake Tech Community College and the Town of Wake Forest, has 98 graduates so far, including the 12 from Tuesday.
The 2022 class consisted of Chris Ballin, Dr. Betsy Bell, Antonio Bryan, Afiba Campbell, Valerie Grasso, Kelly Hester, Dr. Francemise Kingsberry, Andrew McCook, Evette Smith, LaSonda Stasinopoulos, Francine Sweet and Racqueal Williams.
The classes are taught by Dr. Larry Woods, a business planning instructor at Wake Tech.
“The classes help people realize what they need to know in order to be successful in a business,” Woods said. “There are many different businesses, but they all need a solid foundation. You have to know about finances, marketing and who your customers are. There are a lot of people who get into this field and don’t have a clue, and that’s where this class comes in.”
Woods said there were 15 members initially in the 2022 class, but three dropped out. 
“I’m so proud of the ones who stuck to it,” Woods said. “Not everyone made it, but sometimes people look at the program and say it’s not for them. The whole concept of this is getting people to learn about entrepreneurship and this program allows you to do that.”
The keynote speaker for the graduation was Janet Rose, who purchased North Wake Commercial Realty in November. Rose encouraged the graduates to continue growing.
“Like any business, there’s a lot of planning and detail that goes with it,” Rose said.
Overall, Brad Walker, LaunchWakeForest program administrator, said it was important for the graduates, along with those interested in becoming entrepreneurs, to analyze before making moves.
“Evaluate what you’re going to do next before you do it,” Walker said. “What we showed in the class was how to analyze the business and their next investment. You can’t jump blindly into something, so make sure you have a plan from start to finish.”
For more information about LaunchWakeForest, go to www.launchwakeforest.com.