Three Iona College students have earned Stanford University Fellowships after participating in a program that challenged their entrepreneurial skills and ideas.
The students – senior Elijah Ware, junior Tiara Griffith and junior Alberto Goncalves – have been accepted into the University Innovation Fellows, or UIF, after completing an application process that included an interview and a collaborative six-week program.
According to Goncalves, Dr. Christoph Winkler, a professor at the Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, introduced the program to the students and encouraged them to apply.
The program trained the students to become entrepreneurs and showed them how to take their ideas and transform them into reality.
“It was a lot fun,” Goncalves said. “I learned a lot of cool stuff and pretty much how to take an idea and get it on paper in a professional and presentable way as opposed to not having an idea but not a full plan.”
During the program students were paired with a mentor that offered them coaching and guidance.
“We were paired with somebody that completed the program last year,” Goncalves said. “They basically walked us through the program and answered any questions we had. We had weekly meetings with them.”
As members of UIF the students will work to implement activities and programs across campus, aimed to spread the entrepreneurial mindset and encourage innovation.
“My UIF teammates and myself are in the process of organizing a competition called Changemaker Challenge for student clubs to participate in,” Griffith said.
The goal of this challenge is to promote interaction among different student clubs on campus.
“We want to get clubs to work together,” Goncalves said. “There’s no reason why the fashion club shouldn’t be working with the marketing club. The goal is to create different things by opening up the possibility to get people’s minds flowing in an entrepreneurial way.”
As part of the challenge, student clubs will pair up and co-sponsor an event that fulfills similar aims. They will have a few weeks to execute their co-sponsored event to then present the outcome of their event to a panel of judges.
“The clubs that present the best collaboration based on a specific criterion will be awarded a cash prize,” Ware said.
The objective of the fellows is to inspire students to be original and inventive.
“As University Innovation Fellows, our main goal is to become change agents on campus,” Griffith said. “And we hope that this challenge changes the way students and club leaders think about organizing events on campus.”
Not only will the fellows serve the Iona community, but they will use what they have learned from this experience to better their careers and personal lives.
“I plan on using what I’ve learned from UIF to innovate solutions to my personal problems, and then determine how I can use my personal solutions to impact the world around me in a positive way,” Ware said.
Ware, Griffith and Goncalves are on the e-board of the Entrepreneurship Club and encourage students to participate in all that entrepreneurship has to offer.
“Entrepreneurship is a way of thinking in which one finds problem solving and innovating appealing,” Ware said. “I love entrepreneurship because it forces me to find ways to get better on a daily basis.”
According to Ware, fellows will be actively creating opportunities for students to engage in entrepreneurship and innovation, with the goal that they will use their newfound knowledge to change the world.