Southeast Students Attend Third Annual Foundation for Economic Education Conference


Seven Southeast Missouri State University students from Southeast’s Donald L. Harrison College of Business and Computing traveled to the third annual Foundation for Economic Education Conference (FEECon) in Atlanta, Georgia, June 13-15.

The conference was organized by the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), a libertarian economic think-tank dedicated to the “economic, ethical and legal principles of a free society.” Southeast students joined more than 700 attendees from around the globe for the three-day event which included six distinct learning tracks, more than 50 sessions and more than 90 speakers.

“FEEcon is designed to unite the world’s most influential entrepreneurs, economic visionaries and creative innovators to celebrate entrepreneurial spirit and the power of free-market solutions,” said Dr. Natallia Gray, assistant professor of economics at Southeast. “There are talks and workshops in several distinct tracks, exciting entertainment and networking opportunities. Our students gain practical and intellectual tools needed to turn their visions into reality.”

Southeast undergraduate students who participated in the conference included

Cynthia R. Beeding, a finance major from Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Parker P. Brunnworth a business administration major from O’Fallon, Missouri; Kayla J. Byrd, an accounting major from Normal, Illinois; Kyra L. Minder, an economics major from Springfield, Illinois; Christian M Essner, a business administration major from Scott City, Missouri; Gavin D. Pringle, a double major in applied mathematics and finance from Cape Girardeau; and Anastacia N. Razo, an accounting major from Hutchinson, Kansas.

During the conference, students explored various learning tracks, including skills for success; entrepreneurship and startup experience; philosophy, politics and economics; disruptive innovators; and creative arts.

The workshops and breakout sessions provided opportunities for the students to learn from well-renowned entrepreneurs about their career paths, and to learn how to jumpstart their own careers and business ideas.

“I learned a lot of valuable lessons revolving around entrepreneurship and economics,” said Brunnworth. “Along with the more technical information, it was very interesting to hear the stories of successful individuals. The conference opened my eyes to different perspectives and ways of thinking.”

“I attended a lot of breakout sessions dealing with the problem of poverty, solutions and causes, and ways the government is involved,” said Razo. “I was able to gain some really eye-opening knowledge. Because of my experiences at FEEcon, I can apply what I learned as a big sister with the Big Brother Big Sister foundation.”

Several successful entrepreneurs served as keynote presenters at the conference, including Dewitt Jones, photojournalist with National Geographic; Magatte Wade, director of Atlas Networks’ Center for African Prosperity; Austin Wintory, Grammy-nominated video game and film score composer; Henrik Scheel, founder and chief executive officer of Startup Experience Inc.; and Gloria Alvarez, and independent political commentator.

The keynote speakers were a highlight during this year’s conference.

“My favorite speaker was Dewitt Jones, a photographer for National Geographic,” said Beeding. “He is not only an amazing photographer, but an incredible speaker. He presented his outlook on life and talked about how important it is to follow your ambitions and that you can’t succeed if you don’t try. His speech really resonated with me. I genuinely feel I benefitted from the conference and took away some business perspectives that I wouldn’t mind utilizing in my own career.”

The students received partial scholarships from FEE to attend FEEcon, and were awarded funds through Southeast’s Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance. Additionally, Gray received an external teaching and professional development grant from the Charles Koch’s Foundation to help offset expenses for the trip.

About Foundation for Economic Education (FEE):

FEE was established in 1946 and hosted many small-scale seminars and lectures. The foundation has grown substantially over the past few years with FEEcon 2017 being their largest education event in history. FEEcon was open to anyone interested in entrepreneurship or exploring economic thinking. They encourage people who are intellectually curious, and willing to engage in the presentations and discussions to apply. The conference also provided professional networking opportunities and personal and professional development workshops for students and young professionals.