SMC Senior Juana Silva ’24 Wins 2024 APEX Showcase

Juana Silva claims the top prize at the 2024 APEX Showcase.

SMC Senior Juana Silva ’24 Wins 2024 APEX Showcase

Juana Silva’s grandmother was an entrepreneur and always dreamed of someone else in her family starting their own business. Silva dedicated herself to becoming the one to make that dream come true. Her new business, Decals by Silva, not only lived up to her grandmother’s wishes but also earned her first place in the 2024 APEX Showcase at Spartanburg Methodist College.

“I was very excited and blessed, and it was an incredible moment that I will cherish forever,” Silva said of being named the winner. “I’m grateful to everyone who supported and helped me through this project.”

Decals by Silva is an Etsy-based business that allows customers to personalize various objects with custom-made vinyl decals. Silva used the six-week Capstone project at SMC to grow her business through targeted marketing efforts to students and online customers. Ultimately, she exceeded her goals for increased orders and revenue during the project.

“Juana’s drive and passion from day one of her Capstone and her confidence and poise in presenting her results to the judges set her apart from the other contestants this year,” said Dr. Courtney Shelton, vice president for student & professional development at SMC.

Silva plans to invest the $1,000 first-place prize into her business and expand her product line with custom t-shirts and a broader selection of colors and designs for her decals.

“I am very excited to expand my business,” she said. “I feel like I’m honoring my grandmother’s wishes, and she would be very proud of me.”

The APEX program is the culmination of SMC’s Camak Core professional development program, featuring students presenting the results of their senior Capstone projects. This year, the APEX Expo featured 32 students presenting their projects. The top three moved on to the finals, presenting to a panel of professional judges and a packed house at SMC’s APEX Showcase in the Gibbs Auditorium.

The 2024 APEX Showcase winners were (l to r) Bryan Herrera, third place; Juana Silva, first place; and Olivia Jackson-Shaw, second place.

The other two finalists were Olivia Jackson-Shaw ’24, who claimed the $500 second-place prize, and Bryan Herrera ’24, who finished third and earned $250. Jackson-Shaw established a support group to help young parents based on her own experience. Educated Young Parents of the Upstate provided weekly group meetings to provide parents encouragement, fellowship, and direction. Herrera chose the entrepreneurial route with his new business, BH Virtual Solutions. He provided administrative and social media consulting services for a business client and plans to expand to more clients.

Silva credited the faculty and staff and the Camak Core for helping her accomplish her goals with her business.

“The professional development classes helped me develop and grow the skills I needed to succeed,” she said. “The Capstone project was the perfect challenge to put those skills to the test, and I’m very grateful for the lessons I’ve learned.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *