Engaged Learning Makes Entrepreneurs

Dec 9, 2021

by FSC Staff

Brooke Lierman ’24 isn’t just looking out for her fellow females, she is looking OverTheShoulder.

Growing up in St. Louis, Mo., Brooke always felt like she was tripping over herself every time she went for a run.

“It wasn’t the safest area,” she said. “I was constantly trying to look behind me and be aware of my surroundings.”

Advice on staying safe has always been run without headphones, run with a buddy or don’t run at night.

A defender on the women’s lacrosse team, Brooke wanted to run on her own terms.

According to market research, Brooke discovered that 84 percent of women have experienced harassment while running, 80 percent feel unsafe when they run or jog alone, and that 47 percent of women only run during the day.

While taking Business and Free Enterprise at Florida Southern College her freshman year, Brooke was tasked with presenting a concept as part of an engaged learning project.

Brooke needed to pitch a business idea for a Shark Tank style competition and she landed on OverTheShoulder. It was a hit with her classmates and professor.

“I wanted to create something that would allow women to feel safe and confident while running alone,” she said.

OverTheShoulder is designed to alert runners when something is approaching from behind. Brooke knew it would be a success after her lacrosse teammates wanted one for their runs.

Brooke was the only student who continued to develop her idea after the class and Justin Heacock, director of the Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, said entrepreneurial experiences like this allows FSC to offer a higher level of engaged learning for students.

“When it comes to developing students, the act of creation is one of the highest applications of learning,” Justin said. “Entrepreneurship creates the ultimate engaged learning environment because students are in complete control of their situation, no one can build their businesses but them. We not only allow, but encourage students to fail quickly, learn quickly, and pivot which creates a level of accountability that pushes certain students to achieve great things.”

The experiential project in her business class was only the beginning of OverTheShoulder’s success.

Brooke competed in the University of South Florida’s Frank and Ellen Daveler Entrepreneurship Program competition and won $4,000 as well as the title of Daveler Scholar. OverTheShoulder stood out to the judges as an innovative and necessary device.

Now, Brooke has two prototypes and plans for the future.

One is a 3-D printed model and the other has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, and vibrates when it senses something from 30 yards away.

During winter break, Brooke created OverTheShoulder LLC and plans to create a fully functioning prototype, write a patent, and find a manufacturer by the end of the spring semester.

From the beginning, Brooke’s purpose has been to empower women.

“The goal is to give women their freedom back,” she said. “I shouldn’t have to avoid the problem. I want to solve the problem.”

Go Mocs! 

Learn more about engaged learning at FSC.