The Maryland Small Business Administration recently named UMBC alumna Samantha Walls ’12, psychology, the 2019 Young Entrepreneur of the Year for her outstanding work in growing her daycare establishment, Leaps Ahead Learning Center. 

Walls attributes her success to the lessons she learned as an undergraduate. “UMBC gave me the skills I needed to interact in a professional work environment and helped me develop multitasking skills that continue to aid me in owning a business. This award is symbolic of the great teachers I had.” 

She notes that seven years post-graduation, her childhood developmental psychology class sticks with her and is still helpful as she works with children each day. In addition, while taking an education class with Dr. Susan Blunck, Walls volunteered at the Maryland Science Center where she further developed her skill set for playfully and instructionally interacting with children. 

When Walls was just 23, she opened the Halethorpe-based daycare and has dedicated the past five years to best serving her families, staff, and the children who attend. She prides herself in providing enriching activities for the children, maintaining close communication with the families, and creating a positive work environment for her staff. 

Walls is joined by some of the teachers at her daycare at the award celebration. Photo courtesy of Samantha Wells.
Walls is joined by some of the teachers at her daycare at the award celebration. Photo courtesy of Samantha Walls.

As a business owner, Walls explains that she sometimes questions herself, but that this award solidifies her dedication to the program and that shows she is “helping people and making the center as successful as possible.” She notes that her staff, two of which are current UMBC students, work diligently to support her and the growth of the program. 

Her husband, Erik Walls ’13, geography, also graduated from UMBC.

Walls attended the 2019 Maryland Small Business Week Award Luncheon in Woodlawn, Maryland, on June 6, to receive her award. She was joined by several other outstanding Maryland entrepreneurs and small business advocates.

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Header image: Samantha Walls receives her award with members of the SBA Committee. Photo courtesy of Walls.

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