Challey Spotlight: Rachel Burkman

The Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth is highlighting the impact of our faculty and students at NDSU and in the community. This month, we are shining a spotlight on Rachel Burkman.

Challey Spotlight: Rachel Burkman

Junior, Marketing

Rachel Burkman is a junior studying marketing with minor studies in entrepreneurship at NDSU. She grew up in Fargo, ND, and has been involved in several community and campus organizations. She is a member of NDSU’s Entrepreneurship Club, a regular attendee at StartupBREW, and a former intern at the Plains Art Museum. In 2021, she founded The Art Syndicate, a network of local artists who collaborate with local businesses to put on events for the community.

Challey Institute activities: “Conflict of Visions” reading group; “Entrepreneurship: From Ancient Mesopotamia to Modern Times” reading group; “Challenges in Higher Education” reading group; “The Political Thought of Frederick Douglass” colloquium; “Rage Against the Machine: Technology, Rebellion, and the Industrial Revolution” simulation; Challey Institute scholarship recipient; Menard Family Distinguished Speaker Series; Human Progress and Flourishing Workshop

Why did you choose NDSU? What inspired you to study business and entrepreneurship?

NDSU was nearby and offered a nice price point. I was familiar with the campus, and I liked it. I also heard the entrepreneurship program was good, and those have consistently been my favorite classes. I really like personality psychology, and my personality type is interested in everything. I found business to be a way to live vicariously through other people and to be involved in a lot of different things. Entrepreneurship adds the sparkle to doing business. I have a lot of creativity and vision – I am definitely a visionary – so if I have an idea and I think I can make it happen, then I’m going to make it happen.

You have been part of reading groups on diverse topics—from political disagreement to entrepreneurship to higher education—and attended speaking events by renowned thought leaders. How have these programs influenced your perspective on important issues?

I love the reading groups. The things that we read stick with me; I think about them later on and use them in conversation. They have definitely impacted the way I see the world. My first group was on political disagreement. I found it really interesting how the authors wrote about political groups as tribes. I also learned a lot from the entrepreneurship group, especially about the history of entrepreneurship. Now, we are talking about problems in higher education, and it’s nice to hear other people’s perspectives. Sometimes you get in the habit of talking to people who agree with you, but I like hearing different sides. You have a group of people reading the same text but interpreting it differently and bringing in their own experiences. It reminds you about the wide range of people in the world.

You recently participated in a discussion colloquium on the political thought of Frederick Douglass. What was the value of this experience?

Frederick Douglass has been my favorite historical figure since middle school. His insights are fascinating, and the way he communicates is very eloquent. He was such a gentleman during such a barbaric time. His composure was really outstanding. So, reading what he wrote about his life from the 1800s - and the fact that his words were so important that people kept rewriting and saving and reprinting them all the way to 2022 – was incredible. It was powerful to read his actual words and gain insights into him as a person. I really enjoyed it.

You have already started your entrepreneurial journey with The Art Syndicate. Tell me about your future career aspirations.

Well, we just submitted the official paperwork for The Art Syndicate: the registration, the LLC, and the business identification number. Basically, everything that I have been doing for the past year is coming together into a fully-formed venture. My goal is to pursue serial entrepreneurship and start different businesses, but right now, I am focused on building The Art Syndicate. I love impacting the community and seeing the good that comes out of our events. I found my thing, and I’m going to stick with it as far as I can go. 

What impact do scholarships and philanthropy have on helping you reach your goals?

Scholarships have a massive impact. They lessen the fear and financial stress of going to college, because now I can focus more on putting work into school, the reading groups, and my dreams for The Art Syndicate. I would honestly say it has been life-changing. I’m extremely grateful for all the scholarships I have received.

The Sheila and Robert Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth aims to advance understanding in the areas of innovation, trade, institutions, and human potential to identify policies and solutions that enhance economic growth and opportunity. Learn more at
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