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Neil is a senior at East Carolina University and is set to graduate in 2022 with a B.S. in Business, and concentrations in entrepreneurship and small business management. The Sanford native and soon-to-be college grad has taken his entrepreneurial spirit beyond the classroom with his small apparel business, TOPdog.

"My interest in entrepreneurship and business really started in high school," Neil says, adding that he was introduced to CTE business courses through an interest day event early in his high school career at Southern Lee. "I always knew that I wanted to pursue something on my own, and CTE helped me figure that out."

In high school, Neil took a variety of CTE courses that helped him explore different career fields and gave him a better idea of what career he wanted to pursue after graduation. With a focus on becoming a business owner and a solid foundation of skills, he started his apparel brand shortly after he arrived at ECU.

Since then, TOPdog has paid dividends for the college senior. Thanks to his small business venture, he has experience managing clients, creating designs, participation in special events and building mobile displays, along with building his organizationals skills through accounting, inventory tracking, and selling online.

"I always look back on CTE as the foundation for my skills, my ability to effectively communicate in a professional setting – whether that is in the college classroom, presenting to board members, or working with customers,” he says. “When I speak with students who are currently in high school, I always encourage them to take advantage of CTE resources, as the skills you learn in those classes can have a huge impact on your success."

Neil Bullard
Currently Attending East Carolina University