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Engagement Fellows will remain in Syracuse post graduation to continue Scholarship in Action initiatives

April 29, 2011

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Twenty-one Syracuse University seniors have been selected as the 2011 Engagement Fellows, a yearlong program supported by the Kauffman Foundation that assists with securing local employment and arranges remitted tuition for courses at SU with professional and faculty mentors.

This year, the Engagement Fellows program, which launched successfully in 2009, has two application tracks—the Engagement Fellow track and the Kauffman Entrepreneur Engagement Fellow track—in which fellows start and grow their own companies. The program supports projects and ventures by opening up the resources of the University and the community as fellows explore new ideas and build their experience and/or business in real world work environments. From five fellows in 2009 and 16 in 2010, the current cohort has expanded to 21 graduating seniors this year. The 2011 Engagement Fellows come from six different states, including New York, and seven different colleges across campus.

The Kauffman Entrepreneur Engagement Fellows for 2011 are: Jamie Arkin, Genna Brandwein, Ryan Dickerson, Stephen Fox, Lauren Houlik, Michael Santaniello, Andrew Taggert and Case Wayne.

The Engagement Fellows for 2011 are: Yusuf Abdul-Qadir, Sara Bergman, Caitlin Cronin, Jillian Duff, Courtney Kaleta, Stephen Klimek, Nilus Klingel, Michael Loiero, Francesca Merwin, Domenica Pascarella, Sarah Trad, Emily Williams and Marina Zarya.

The Fellows will participate in local projects or ventures 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.

“We see the Engagement Fellows 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: Artists and scholars in Public Life, a consortium of more than 85 campuses that create public scholarship and artistic practice through campus community partnerships, hosted by SU. “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.”

Selection of the 21 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 continue to be the best and brightest of the Syracuse University graduates [for 2011] 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. “To revitalize the Central New York economy we need new ideas, new actions and new strategies. The Engagement Fellows program is one of these new strategies—keeping young, educated, creative and talented graduates in Central New York, making a difference.”

2011 Fellows & Projects with Central New York

  • Yusuf Abdul-Qadir will work for the six not-for-profit initiatives of Synapse Sustainability Trust, to be part of the global solution through community action.
  • Jamie Arkin will continue work on her venture, Cineaste, an e-portfolio social media platform, developed to integrate social media and the entertainment industry.
  • Sara Bergman will remodel the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection at the Phoenix Center as part of the Students for Success group.
  • Genna Brandwein will continue work on her venture, Morgan’s Mannequins, a fashion-focused company that produces furniture for female pre-teens and teenagers.
  • Caitlin Cronin will be the production coordinator for Outreach with “Cry for Peace,” coordinating travel plans, maintaining relations with the Congolese community and working with faculty on infusing this play with the academic community on campus.
  • Ryan Dickerson, Stephen Fox, Michael Santaniello and Case Wayne will work on their venture, Rylaxer, producing ergonomic bolsters that transform a bed into a sofa. The products are best known for their comfort and space efficiency. They promote lower back health while allowing a small room to be turned into a social hot spot.
  • Jillian Duff will work as a marketing and communications specialist for the SU ExCEL Center, providing public relations expertise to connect entrepreneurs in Central New York to the resources they need.
  • Lauren Houlik will work on her venture, Create2Relate CNY, a not-for-profit that seeks to promote self-actualization and empowerment through the arts for individuals with disabilities and refugees living in Central New York.
  • Courtney Kaleta will provide respite care at ARISE Child & Family Service, Inc., supporting people of all abilities to create a fair and just community in which everyone can fully participate.
  • Stephen Klimek will work in the SU Community Engagement and Economic Development Office on the Near Westside Neighborhood Plan, and also The Front, a service for transforming abandoned storefronts into prime destinations for small and startup businesses in Syracuse.
  • Nilus Klingel will work with UPSTATE (an interdisciplinary center for design, research and real estate founded at the SU School of Architecture) and also The Front, a service for transforming abandoned storefronts into prime destinations for small and startup businesses in Syracuse.
  • Michael Loiero will be the lab manager for the Information Technology Experiential Learning Lab (ITELL) at SU’s iSchool.
  • Francesca Merwin will work in the SU Community Engagement and Economic Development Office on the Connective Corridor project.
  • Domenica Pascarella will be a social work intern at Upstate University Health System, on the pediatric floor, supporting parents and patients.
  • Andrew Taggert was previously involved in the conception and implementation of a series of pop-up stores. He will apply his extensive experience in sales and promotions to a new venture in Syracuse.
  • Sarah Trad will work for the SU Art Galleries and the Warehouse Gallery, as well as a teaching assistant position at SU.
  • Emily Williams will work as a science and technology enrichment specialist for the Say Yes Program at Webster Elementary School.
  • Marina Zarya will work at the Community Folk Art Center (CFAC), a cultural and artistic hub committed to the promotion and development of artists of the African Diaspora.

The SU Engagement Fellows is a project of Enitiative (the Syracuse Campus-Community Entrepreneurship Initiative).

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