Holloway Success Stories

The UNH Paul J. Holloway Prize competition has seeded many successful businesses over the years. Year after year, Holloway has won the best business startup competition in New Hampshire, as voted by readers of New Hampshire Business Review. Two success stories help illustrate how experience-based programs at Paul College set students up for career success.
Jessica dePontbriand '03
Jessica dePontbriand ’03

Something delicious is cooking at this business

Jessica dePontbriand ’03 grew up in a family where something delicious was always cooking on the stove or baking in the oven–whether she was home, at her yiayia’s, or with one of her great aunts’ who ran a Greek bakery out of their home in Nashua, N.H., called Makreena’s.

Nowadays, there’s still always something delicious in the oven. And oftentimes it’s cooking at her business, jajabelles.

jajabelles first breathed life as a project for an entrepreneurship class. Students with the best projects were encouraged to enter the Holloway competition. After months of endless rewrites and hours of practicing her presentation, Jess’s entry won her first place (and $4,000!) in the lifestyles category. Winning Holloway cemented the notion that not only friends and family believed in her vision, but complete strangers did as well. It gave her the confidence needed to turn jajabelles into a reality.

After graduating with a degree from UNH in hospitality management, life took Jessica across the country to Colorado, where she began selling Greek pastries using generational family recipes. To this day, she still has a kitchen in Vail. In March 2014, she returned to her hometown, and the idea for a café offering Greek pastries and coffee – plus breakfast, lunch, and smoothies – finally came to life.

In March 2020, Jessica moved the shop across the street to a much larger space, only to have to close two weeks later (and reopen three months after that!) Many of the reasons she expanded became moot due to COVID, forcing her to pivot and reconstruct.

“As a business owner, you wake up every day to a new journeys. COVID hitting just as we were opening was no different — just another obstacle,” she said. As she looks back at this unique year, she can’t help but feel gratitude for her staff and the support of the community. It’s been difficult, but she knew she had the skills and business know-how to make it through.

Kendra Bostick ’23G and co-founder Bryn Lottig
Kendra Bostick ’23G and co-founder Bryn Lottig

Experiential education in the K-12 classroom? There’s an app for that

During the five years Kendra Bostick ’23G worked alongside teachers as a school social worker, the educational and emotional struggles her kids had inside the classroom ran the gamut. Not every child is the strongest reader or an up-and-coming mathlete. Not every child has the tools they need to deal with disappointment and frustration with standardized testing and strict curriculum.

But outside the classroom, Bostick soon discovered that these same students could flourish. By engaging in experiential learning activities — learning by doing — kids were able to celebrate their unique strengthens and identify the special ways they could contribute to a team. There’s growing research showing the benefits of social-emotional learning for student well-being, graduation rates, and academics.

Kikoriapp is dedicated to bringing that research to life. The 2020 Holloway Competition helped Bostick, who is studying for her Ph.D. in education at UNH, and co-founder Bryn Lottig, an experiential educator, them there by sending them home with $10,000 in prize money.

”I cannot say enough about the invaluable experience I had participating in the Holloway Competition and being coached by Ian Grant at the E-Center. While it wasn’t easy, Holloway helped me grow immeasurably in all areas of entrepreneurship: I developed my business strategy, constructed my financial model, learned presentation skills, and created everything I needed to pitch a scalable company. It all led to a product that I wouldn’t have created on my own without the support and timelines! If you have any interest in growing something you care about, sign up for a competition like this.


Kikori is an app intentionally designed for educators, facilitators and parents who want to use experiential and social emotional learning activities to help youth connect to themselves, others, and the planet.​ The easy-to-use digital platform gives users access to an extensive library of suggested activities aligned with existing curriculums and teaching standards in multiple topics.