Jessica Ekstrom graduated in 2013 with a degree in communication, a minor in Spanish — and a fully-fledged business she created to support children with cancer. “Preparing to launch Headbands of Hope at NC State taught me responsible thinking and the importance of taking action,” she says. “My learning wasn’t limited to the classroom.”
During a student internship with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Ekstrom noticed that young girls who lost their hair from chemotherapy treatments did not like to wear wigs. But they still wanted a way to express their feminine identities. Ekstrom settled on headbands, and came up with a compelling business model: for every headband sold, one is donated to a girl who has lost her hair and one dollar is given to cancer research.
Ekstrom and her team have delivered headbands to more than 300 hospitals in the United States and internationally. The company has sold 35,000 headbands and donated $35,000 to charity.
This inspiring entrepreneur embodies the NC State Think and Do approach to addressing challenges — including those faced by little girls with cancer.