10:51 AM

A Tale of Two Entrepreneurs

2 Alumnae Grateful to UST Entrepreneurship Classes

Nathalie Sessions, BBA '93 and Doris Vela, M.Ed. '12Alumnae entrepreneurs Nathalie Sessions and Doris Vela launched their respective businesses after taking a University of St. Thomas-Houston and Houston Community College entrepreneurship class. Both stepped into that classroom excited about the future and departed blown away by the value they received.

“It was a very diverse group made up of alumni and current students in various stages of entrepreneurship,” Sessions said. “Incredibly valuable. We got so much targeted help on each of our businesses.”

Nathalie Sessions, BBA '93Business No. 1: Nutrition Sessions LLC

Nathalie Sessions, BBA ’93, is a registered dietitian who worked in corporate wellness for an extensive healthcare system. She is passionate about the connection between food and health.

Her new business helps busy professionals make healthy eating easier through individual coaching and group programs. She calls the start-up Nutrition Sessions LLC; a clever brand name brainstormed during class. And she is using Instagram and LinkedIn to support her marketing.

The upbeat healthy foodie naturally comes by her entrepreneurial itch and her field of interest.

She said, “I’ve always had an entrepreneur in me. My grandfather had a restaurant, and my father has an audio engineering business. On the food side of things, our family heritage includes a love of food—we live to eat. And my mom was really into health.”

When Sessions learned about the University’s McNair Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship workshop opportunity, she moved quickly to participate.

“Everything the instructors covered in class solidified things for me, closed a loop,” she recalled. “Above all, it gave me additional confidence and support exactly when I needed it.”

Doris Vela, M.Ed. '12Business No. 2:  Lady Liberty Income Tax Prep and Financial Services

Doris Vela, M.Ed. ’12, is on a career journey that shows her intelligence and willingness to take calculated risks.  Her Houston tax preparation and financial services company, which she calls Lady Liberty Income Tax Services, at 609 Main Street, is her second venture into entrepreneurship.

Years ago, she had been working in staffing for JPMorgan Chase. But the then mother of two young children saw a need to help other parents achieve better work-life balance. So she earned her master’s in education and founded an early childhood daycare center and then opened a second location. The highly disciplined Vela ran her centers beautifully for eight years, then went back to school to be an accountant who helps other small businesses and individuals.   

Today, she says, “I wish I had taken the entrepreneurship class 10 years ago.”

According to Vela, the classes taught by entrepreneurial experts fueled her motivation to move forward with her financial services idea, get an office and connect with people.

“In the classes, I was surrounded by knowledgeable, experienced people who have become genuine resources of information and support. As a result, I crafted and tested a terrific elevator pitch, emerged with solid business and marketing plans, and became aware of how ready I was for this.”

Thankfully, Vela read about the workshop opportunity in the UST Alumni Newsletter. From there, the faith-filled businessperson said, “Because I feel connected to God, I feel guided in the right direction.”

In the meantime, the Lady Liberty office is open, and Vela is preparing to be ready for tax season to start.