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An Argyle teen may receive a scholarship worth up to $5,000 for his entrepreneurial efforts.Devon Zielinski, an Argyle High School senior, was one of 21 finalists selected statewide to attend Texas Christian University’s Youth Entrepreneur Days, a program that recognizes high school students who start and run their own businesses.

The event on Sunday and today provides opportunities for high school executives to meet successful entrepreneurs, students and faculty and attend the university’s seventh Texas Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Banquet this evening.

Five judges, with an entrepreneur background, will interview finalists about their businesses today and present one student with a $5,000 scholarship and five others with $1,000 awards. The scholarships, sponsored by Compass Bank, are doubled if the student attends TCU.

Zielinski said he learned of the scholarship hours before its midnight deadline while visiting the bank with his father. He went home immediately to apply and said he was surprised in December to learn he was a finalist.

“When I got the letter from TCU, it blew my mind. I didn’t think I had a chance,” Zielinski said. “Being a finalist for something like this was really huge.”

Zielinski opened Cutting Edge Opportunity (C.E.O.) Lawn Care with a friend in March 2007 to earn money for college.

Offering landscaping services to clients in Argyle, Flower Mound, Denton and surrounding areas for $29.99, Zielinski has acquired 20 clients in less than two years.

He said his business partner stepped away from the venture and he carried it on, purchasing his own truck and commercial equipment and hiring four teen employees to cut lawns three times a week in the summer and two times in the fall.

In taking on a business all on his own, Zielinski said he learned to accept failure, recover and produce a successful company.

“It’s been a good step in the right direction for me, and it’s really helped me for the future,” he said.

It was Zielinski’s story of facing trials, losing a business partner and still continuing on with his company that earned him a spot as one of 21 finalists out of 63 applicants, program director Sheryl Doll said. He also showed strong revenue, profit and an ability to hire employees, she said.

“[His] story told me that he had a really good experience,” Doll said. “He’s done a lot for someone in high school.”


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