Many people dream of owning their own business. Lillah Cherry, 2011 graduate of South Hills School of Business & Technology’s Administrative Professional (AP) program at the Lewistown Campus, and her husband, Ryan, turned their dream into a reality when they opened East End Coffee Co. in downtown Lewistown. Their goal is to offer a unique place for customers not only to enjoy a tasty cup of coffee and some delicious baked goods but also to create an environment for people to enjoy hanging out. The shop includes an art gallery and features the works of local artists each month.
As the Owner/Operator, Lillah juggles many roles: serving customers, ordering coffee and supplies, and handling the accounting and marketing. It takes a diverse skill set to develop a concept into a business plan and carry it through to running a successful company. Lillah credits her South Hills education with giving her the foundational skills that guided her through the process. “South Hills gave me the skills and knowledge to successfully start and run my own business. I took classes ranging from marketing to accounting. They really pushed professionalism and customer service skills, which are very helpful when dealing with the public. We also learned about the importance of networking which comes into play when I attend the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce meetings as a business owner.”
Lillah also found her South Hills internship to be a valuable experience. “My internship position was working in an office at a local magazine company,” said Lillah. “I learned how to interact with many different kinds of people and learned how to work in an office environment. Since I worked directly with customers, I was able to use the skills I’d gained at South Hills.” After completing her internship and graduating with an Associate in Specialized Business degree, her internship site offered her a full-time job as the office manager, and she remained there for six years until she started her own business.
When asked why she choose the South Hills Lewistown Campus for her education, Lillah said, “The location was close to home, the atmosphere was very welcoming, and I liked the small class sizes and one-on-one instruction. Since the school was close to home, I could keep my job while attending, which was very important to me. All the teachers and staff help students with whatever they need. Anything they can do to help you succeed, they will do. I’d tell anyone considering South Hills that it is a very valuable experience, and it will help you get a job in the real world. I’d also encourage them to make the most of what they are learning and what the teachers are saying to them. Really pay attention and take it all in.”