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Seventeen Engagement Fellows selected from SU's Class of 2010

April 27, 2010

Jemeli Tanui
(315) 443-5172

Seventeen Syracuse University seniors have been selected as the 2010 Engagement Fellows, benefiting from a yearlong program supported by the Kauffman Foundation that contributes to paid employment locally, offers remitted tuition for courses at SU, and arranges for professional and faculty mentors.

The program, which launched successfully in 2009, supports student projects by opening up the resources of the University and the community to the students as they explore new ideas and build up their experience in real-world work environments. The program has expanded from five fellows in its inaugural year.

The Engagement Fellows for 2010 are: Genevieve Babecki, Hannah Dyer, Tory Gentes, Charles Muraguri Gichane, Sharia Graham, Kristen Kelly, Kevin Leonardi, Hilary Mansur, Becca McAvinue, Lauren Newman, Timothy Rittenhouse, Kristian Rodriguez, Michael Short, Christina Simmons, Elysa Smigielski, Brian Weinreich and Kimberly Wolfe. The 2010 Engagement Fellows come from eight different states, including New York, and 15 different undergraduate majors, including architecture, social work, public health, metalsmithing and information management.

The fellows will participate in local projects that incorporate the principles of SU’s Scholarship in Action vision, allowing them to explore innovative ways to help create sustainable development in Central New York. Projects this year include working with small businesses on Syracuse’s Near Westside; engaging in property redevelopment and design with Home HeadQuarters; researching sustainability projects with the Syracuse Center of Excellence; developing quality, culturally sensitive health resources for Central New York with REACH CNY; and starting entrepreneurial businesses that provide services and products to SU students.

The SU Engagement Fellows is a project of Enitiative (the Syracuse Campus-Community Entrepreneurship Initiative) and Imagining America, a national consortium of more than 80 colleges and universities whose mission is to strengthen the public role and democratic purposes of the humanities, arts and design.

“We see the Engagement Fellowship program as good for all involved, as it provides newly graduating students with an incentive to stay in Central New York,” says Jan Cohen-Cruz, director of Imagining America. “We also hope it will be a useful model nationally, as communities increasingly look to local institutions of higher education to contribute long term to their development.”

The 2009 Engagement Fellows embodied that vision. All five of last year’s Engagement Fellows report that they intend to stay in Syracuse to continue their projects or apply for jobs locally, and all five reflect that the last year in Syracuse has been challenging, productive and life-changing. “Being an Engagement Fellow has meant so much more to me than what I’ve experienced in the workplace,” says 2009 Fellow Carissa Matthews. “From connecting to a great church at The Palace Theatre to volunteering with the Girl Scouts to rock shows at the Spark Art Space to hiking at Green Lakes, this year has been about exploring all Syracuse has to offer and showcasing why this is a great place to live, work and play.”

The 2010 Engagement Fellows show the same potential as their predecessors. Selection of the 16 fellows was based on their academic record, their history in experiential learning, an in-depth interview, a faculty or professional recommendation and assurance that they were on track to graduate.

“These students are among the best and brightest of the Syracuse University graduates [for 2010], and instead of taking a job in Boston or Los Angeles they chose to stay in Syracuse starting new companies or working locally,” says Bruce Kingma, SU associate provost for entrepreneurship and innovation and director of the Enitiative program. “To revitalize the Central New York economy we need new ideas, new actions, new strategies. The Engagement Fellows is one of those new ideas. Keeping young, educated, creative and talented graduates in Central New York will make a difference.”

2010 Fellows and Projects within Syracuse

Babecki will work for the La Casita Culture Center project, a Chancellor’s Leadership award project that seeks to establish a physical gathering place on Syracuse’s Near Westside to foster multimodal, multigenerational campus-community conversations and to serve as an intellectual and artistic bridge linking various communities, including Latino populations across and beyond Syracuse.

Dyer will work at the SUNY Psych Center.

Gentes is a co-owner of Campus Mosaic Inc., a venture between two intertwined businesses popular among the college crowd: ‘Cuse My Campus and Squeeze My Tees.

Gichane will work with ClearChannel Communications Inc.

Graham will work at Liberty Resources’ Brownell Center, an outpatient mental health clinic serving children, families and adults with mental illness.

Kelly will work at the Q Center, a resource center for LGBTQ youth and their allies ages 13-22.

Leonardi will work as a marketing specialist for the Community Folk Art Center (CFAC) planning, developing and implementing a marketing plan for CFAC.

Mansur will work at Home HeadQuarters as a property redevelopment and design specialist. She’ll work on projects involving redesigning and rehabilitating properties in the Near Westside neighborhood, forging collaborations between Home HeadQuarters and SU’s School of Architecture as well as other organizations such as the Syracuse Center of Excellence.

McAvinue will work with REACH CNY Inc., whose mission is its acronym: resources, education, advocacy and collaboration for health. McAvinue will be assisting in the organization’s various programs, including the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention program and the Maternal and Child Health programs.

Newman will work at Synapse Partners LLC, a Syracuse-based management support firm.

Rittenhouse will work at Home HeadQuarters.

Rodriguez will work at the Redhouse Arts Center.

Short will work with the Near Westside Initiative as deputy director, assisting the director in the conception, planning, development, implementation and measurement of results-oriented projects and ongoing programming aimed at revitalizing the Near Westside neighborhood of Syracuse.

Simmons will work at SU’s Burton Blatt Institute, a leading center in disabilities studies.

Smigielski will work at the Syracuse Center of Excellence with the iBox, a new interdisciplinary center to create innovation, community development and sustainable business practices.

Weinreich is a co-owner of Campus Mosaic Inc., a venture between two intertwined businesses popular among the college crowd: ‘Cuse My Campus and Squeeze My Tees. Weinreich, who already creates and manages content for the ‘Cuse My Campus website, will expand the content of ‘Cuse My Campus to reach 80-90 percent of the students at SU. He will also work on Squeeze My Tees, an in-house screen-printing business.

Wolfe will work with SU professor Steve Parks on a community writing project on the Near Westside neighborhood.

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