Guest Speakers Are Critical to Our Learning Experience

By Brooke Harrington, Opinion Writer

On October 19, Seton Hall Alum Paul Sannitti, owner of BGR South Orange, came to speak to the Entrepreneurship Club about owning and operating his franchise that he opened less than a year ago. Now being someone who’s favorite food is the cheeseburger, and someone who potentially would like to open their own restaurant, I thought this was something great to attend. Not only was this great for someone looking to potentially go into the restaurant business or become an entrepreneur, but it was also great for anyone looking for some insight into what the real business world is like. From business plans to talking about the comparison between opening one’s own small business and purchasing a franchise, Sannitti hit plenty of points that I did not expect.

Another great thing about attending guest speakers is that it can lead to great networking and student involvement within that business. Sannitti actually asked for the help of the Entrepreneurship Club students, as he pitched some ideas he had for getting the Seton Hall community more involved with BGR. Some of these ideas included a potential “Pirate Burger”, burger selfies, and the concept of a burger challenge, of course all resulting in a free t-shirt, because for some reason that is a college student’s favorite idea for a prize. As Sannitti asked for the student’s help, it really made me feel as though he truly wanted to be involved with the Seton Hall Community. This can also be seen through the specials that BGR offers specifically for Seton Hall students. BGR offers a 10% discount for Pirates daily, as well as a late night special on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. This special runs from 10pm-midnight and offers a 20% discount to Seton Hall Students.

Sannitti was very inspirational.I realized that anything is truly possible if you set your mind to it. He pointed out that he came up with the idea for BGR during his sophomore year at Seton Hall. His reasoning: “As I was attending Seton Hall I felt that there was a disconnect between the town and the university. I just simply felt there were so many opportunities that were being missed between the two, and I felt it took away from the college experience as a whole.  So the fact that I could help bridge the gap is something very important to me.” It was not easy though, as Sannitti pointed out. He claimed that his biggest mistake while opening the business was “thinking that it was going to be easier than it actually was”. He claimed that although you can have a business plan, and think you are truly prepared for anything, there is always something that will come out of nowhere and simply mess that plan up. So if you are second guessing attending a session with a guest speaker on campus, I would highly suggest to attend it. I sure didn’t expect to learn everything I did by going to hear the owner of the burger place in town, but now I truly feel inspired that maybe one day I will be able to open my own restaurant of some sort. Paul was speaking to how one day he wishes to be the owner and operator of all BGRs in the North Jersey area. He claims that there is “no stopping”, and you just have to keep progressing. And this show that dreams can come true, and will also continue to grow.

In all honesty though, guest speakers have real experience and can truly give you information that you would not get anywhere else. They have surely done it, and they have been there. It’s not just that though, as they truly care about the students. When asked about how he felt about influencing potential entrepreneurs, Sannitti claimed “I love it! I think anytime you can help people try to figure out what they can do, or inspire someone to do something is a great thing.” Guest speakers are truly worth something, even just to listen to the things they have to say, as you never know how it may influence you, help you in your college career, or simply give you more insight into something you may have not understood. And in this case, it also may get you a “free burger” card from BGR South Orange!


A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 26th print edition.

Contact Brooke at

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