Mary Japhet arrives on campus to mentor entrepreneurship students


Photo by Mona Mirpour

After graduating from Trinity in 1984, Mary Japhet is back on campus as this year’s Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR). Luis Martínez, director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, created the EiR program in 2014 to provide current students with a mentor who can share their real life experience in the San Antonio business ecosystem. Trinity alumni apply each year for the 18-month part-time position, and this year, Martínez welcomed Japhet.

“It’s ideally made for those entrepreneurs who are at a point of transition in their career where they need to take a little time off to refocus, think about what their next thing is going to be or digest the lessons learned,” Martínez said. “It provides that space for that [EiR] to take a breather, rebuild the new thing or move onto the next thing while engaging students as part of that process.”

After receiving a degree in broadcast journalism from Trinity, Japhet worked as an anchor and reporter for the San Antonio CBS affiliate before moving to Los Angeles to work in the television industry. She returned to San Antonio for what she thought would be a brief amount of time working for the U.S. Olympics Festival, but soon enough, she was heading up communications for the local nonprofit San Antonio Sports. Until this June, Japhet was senior vice president of the organization.

Now, Japhet is running her own business, Japhet Media. She said she is at a place with her company that she can mentor Trinity students and give them advice on building businesses while she builds her own, allowing for both sides to teach and learn.

“This is an enhanced, in-depth way of mentoring students and being involved in their successes,” Japhet said. “My favorite part is just seeing the energy and enthusiasm for creating something from nothing. Being a part of their journey is very rewarding.”

Japhet teaches Introduction to Entrepreneurship I and II and holds a class each Wednesday for students in the Entrepreneurship Hall (E-Hall). The EiR each year builds intentional relationships with the students on E-Hall as a mentor through both the class and extracurricular outings.

Senior Gavin Buchanan, E-Hall resident assistant (RA), was a resident of the hall himself when he launched his own successful business, PATCH. This is his second year as E-Hall RA.

“Having that go-to person, someone who’s a point of contact for anything entrepreneurship related, is really important, really helpful, and I think is an incredible amount of value,” Buchanan said.

Between teaching classes and preparing lessons, Japhet meets with students to help with their ventures, especially students in the Stumberg Venture Competition finals. When she’s not on campus, she has a schedule full of meetings with clients, writing press releases and furthering her company.

“No day is typical, and that’s what I enjoy,” Japhet said. “I like moving quickly and having variety. Boredom is the kiss of death for me.”

Martínez emphasized how important it is for Japhet to be able to bring back lessons learned from working on her business to Trinity students. He said her knowledge adds to a pool of information entrepreneurship students will have at the end of their four years, having learned from a new EiR each year.

“We have entrepreneurs that reflect different kinds of industry sectors, different kinds of business types, different types of experiences during the course of building their businesses,” Martínez said. “Some of our [EiRs] have been incredibly successful. Others have been incredibly successful in what not to do. It’s really important for our students to see these real life entrepreneurs over the course of the four years to get that range of what entrepreneurship is, which is solving problems.”

No matter where students are in their education journey, Japhet encourages everyone to get involved in entrepreneurship at Trinity.

“We welcome students from every discipline,” Japhet said. “If they have an entrepreneurial idea, if they’ve got an entrepreneurial bone in their body and just want to test the waters, Trinity can make those possibilities reality for them.”