Inside Aera
Bakersfield, Featured, What Others Are Saying Nov 11, 2022

Education matters

Angel Cottrell writes about the lasting impact of education and entrepreneurship in Kern County

Editor’s Note: Aera is committed to supporting organizations that make a big impact in the communities where we live and operate. That’s why Aera sponsors Beautiful Bakersfield’s Education award every year. The following piece written by the education award recipient was originally published in the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce’s Metro Newsletter. It is being shared in its entirely with the permission of its author and the chamber.

Angel Cottrell, program manager, Kern High School District’s ROC & CTEC Entrepreneurship Resource Centers, received the Beautiful Bakersfield Education Award. Photo courtesy of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce

On a beautiful spring day in Bakersfield, I was sitting on my back patio chatting with my mom who was in town to house-sit as I was preparing to fly to New York City to support our five local high school teams in the Virtual Enterprise national competition.

We were discussing how lucky and blessed I feel to live and work in Bakersfield — to belong in Bakersfield. I am not originally from here. I have lived in five states and ten cities. It was hard to “root” as a kid because we moved around a lot. I was sharing with my mom how special it feels to be rooted and blooming here. I was reflecting on all the amazing people I get to work with, the wonderful friendships I have, the incredible ways that the people, businesses, and organizations come together in this community to make a positive difference in one another’s lives. I looked at her and said, “Mom, I get to be a part of it, and I just am so grateful.”

In the next moment, the email came through notifying me that I had been nominated for a Beautiful Bakersfield Award in Education. WOW! It was one of those — all the stars align, and all is right with the world moments. I was simply blown away; it was such an unexpected, pleasant surprise. It is a great honor to be nominated for a Beautiful Bakersfield Award as it is an acknowledgement that you have indeed made a positive impact in our community. The awards evening was an amazing Saturday night; I was so proud to be a nominee amongst giants in our community. Winning the award in education is an incredible accomplishment in my life.

As I shared in my acceptance speech, I believe education is the most powerful investment you can make in YOU. During the past thirteen years, I have had the opportunity to teach with the Kern Women’s Business Center, Cal State University Bakersfield’s (CSUB) School of Business and Public Administration, CSUB’s Small Business Development Center, Taft College, in my business Apollo Consultancy Group with executives and their teams, and in the newly formed Kern High School District Entrepreneurship Resource Centers. I believe the intersection of entrepreneurship and education is invaluable and necessary for the success of individuals as well as businesses, organizations, and institutions. Individuals and these entities do not grow and excel without the infusion of education. Education opens our minds not only to learning new concepts, but new ways of behaving and interacting with our environment. Entrepreneurship is a driving force of innovation that creates increased economic prosperity for individuals as well as the community at large.

Entrepreneurial education is at its heart, a mindset. An entrepreneurial mindset holds the belief that every problem faced by a business, organization, an institution, or an individual is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to create value for others by solving their problem. By solving a problem for others and creating value, you validate your value. Who you are and what you do, matters. Every successful entrepreneurial endeavor is designed to be a generator of value creation. Although vitally important to our economic well-being, value creation is not exclusive to a business making sales. Value creation is found in organizations whose missions are designed to serve communities in ways that elevate the lives of others, it is found in our institutions designed to provide us with safe prosperous ways to live and excel in life and it is found in the individual who realizes, they are the one who has the talent, skills, and education to make a difference by creating opportunities from a problem. And this is what I teach, every day to everyone I encounter.

I am so grateful to my nominators for thinking of me and taking the time to nominate me. Thank you for being an integral part of one of the best experiences in my life. Congratulations to all nominees, winners, and our community of Bakersfield; what an incredible of display of community excellence in action. I am proud and grateful that I live where making a positive impact in the lives of others is the heartfelt mindset of the community. I am so happy to belong here.

DID YOU KNOW? Aera Energy is a three-time recipient of the Forbes America’s Midsize Employer List, placing ninth in the 2022 ranking and securing its spot in the top ten midsize companies to work for in the United States.

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