Northern Star




Northern Star

Northern Illinois University’s student news organization since 1899


Ensure student journalism survives. Donate today.

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Young entrepreneurs to host panel at NIU

Four CEOs share their knowledge
Totus Tuus Keely
The main entrance to Barsema Hall sits in its shadow Tuesday afternoon. The Young Trailblazers Panel will take place at 5 p.m. on Feb. 1 in the De La Vega Innovation Lab located in Barsema Hall. (Totus Tuus Keely | Northern Star)

DeKalb – The Young Trailblazers Panel will bring four CEOs and founders of businesses and organizations to speak about entrepreneurship and building success with students and community members for free. 

The panel will take place at 5 p.m. Feb. 1 in the De La Vega Innovation Lab in Barsema Hall.

The Young Trailblazers panel will feature Gustavo Casas, founder and CEO of Musk Co., Gabrielle Foreman, founder and CEO of Secondary Success and Beyond NFP, Shazor Khan, co-founder and CEO of MethodEASY and Tayyaba Ali, co-founder and CEO of Tikal Industries.

Becca Husar, NIU associate director of innovation and partnership development in the College of Business, helped plan the Young Trailblazers Panel. 

“To me, being a trailblazer is being someone that has the courage to make an impact in their personal life, their family, their community, whatever it may be,” Husar said.

The Young Trailblazers Panel is an hourlong event split in two parts. The first half is a moderated discussion about the panelists journey and where they are now. The second half will be a question and answer session open to the crowd.

“This event is meant to bring in successful young people that have started to pave a unique path for themselves,” Husar said.

NIU students Keira McFarland, a senior accountancy major, and Ana Sifuentes, a senior business management major, will be the moderators leading the panel. 

Husar said she understands a lot of guest speakers are hard to relate to because they’re older, in a different tax bracket and/or mature in their industry.

“I really thought it would be a unique opportunity to bring in people that are fresh out of college,” Husar said. “One of the panelist is a gen Z woman who has not been to college”

Gustavo Casas graduated from NIU in 2020 with a degree in finance. Casas founded a company called Musk Co., a candle company focused on mindfulness for men. 

“He is into venture capital and startups,” Husar said. “He has already been fundraising and gotten $1 million for his business, but he also helps other early stage startups founded so he mentors them.” 

Gabrielle Foreman graduated from NIU in 2021. Foreman is the founder and CEO of Secondary Success and Beyond, a non-profit organization in Rockford. The mission of the organization is to help high school students plan for their future and assist them whether it is college, trade school or any other path.

Shazor Khan graduated from NIU in 2023 and won the De La Vega Innovation Pitch Competition with his idea for MethodEASY, a website that centralizes business operations in one place while selling things and the website uses AI powered E-commerce.

Tayyaba Ali is the co-founder and CEO of Tikal Industries, a team of environmental activists and engineers who are trying to address issues with the American water crisis such as water contamination and water sustainability. 

The De La Vega Innovation Lab and the Young Trailblazers Panel missions go hand in hand with a focus of empowering future entrepreneurs. 

“The panel is hosted in and by the De la Vega Innovation Lab and that is a resource on campus for students of all majors who are interested in innovation and entrepreneurship so we really try to create programming that empowers students,” Husar said. 

For more information about the panel, check out the details on NIU’s website.

More to Discover