VFA Class of 2013

In 2013, Venture for America added even more Fellows to its second class, and sent them to work at a startups across the country. So far, Fellows have helped their companies through rebrands, helped hire and lead teams, and more.

Baltimore

Adam Rhoades-Brown

Vigilant Medical

Washington University in St. Louis

Adam graduated with a degree in biomedical engineering and a minor in biophysics from Washington University in St. Louis. During his sophomore year, Adam started an iPhone repair service for students and residents in the St. Louis area. He was also an owner and CEO of an on-campus business called Wash-U-Wash and an active member of the Student Entrepreneurial Program. During his freshman and sophomore years, Adam was awarded Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships at Brookhaven National Laboratory where he undertook research in medical imaging. Adam spent last summer in Brazil and was an intern for a Brazilian commodity brokerage firm. He shadowed the managing director, learning about the Brazilian commodity and futures markets, helping to cultivate relations with new clients and interacting with international hedge funds. Adam was a teaching assistant for Quantitative Physiology and a Brotherhood Development Director for his fraternity. In his free time, Adam loves to travel, scuba dive, play soccer and is an avid Manchester United fan.

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Clara Gustafson

ZeroFOX

Georgetown University

Clara studied Science, Technology, and International Affairs with a focus on Technology and Security at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Washington, DC. Originally from Portland, Oregon she spent two years of high school in China with most classes in Mandarin. She was involved with student government throughout her time at Georgetown and served last year as student body president. Additionally, she and a few other students founded the Social Innovation and Public Service Fund in 2012, which finances student-led socially oriented initiatives. Her favorite way to enjoy being outside at Georgetown is with Women’s Club Ultimate Frisbee, especially since hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting are hard to come by at Georgetown.

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Kavan McEachern

ZeroFOX

Vassar College

Kavan graduated from Vassar College, where he majored in computer science and explored cognitive science, philosophy and physics. He spent the past two summers researching motion-planning algorithms and multi-robot communication at Vassar and at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute. Ever since delving into computer science and learning about the rapid advances in industrial robotics, he has wondered about the possibilities of commercial robotics, particularly in the realm of robotic prosthetics and sensory devices for physical and sensory impairment. He hopes to help impel a universally accessible bionic future. Kavan is also an avid frisbee thrower (and catcher), weightlifter, singer, electronic music listener, outdoorsman, and eater of Indian food.

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Malavika Kesavan

Pegged Software

Case Western Reserve University

Malavika finished her master’s in Neurobiology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. She graduated from CWRU in 2011 with a major in Biology and a minor in Biomedical Engineering. In college, Malavika enjoyed the opportunity to study abroad in Ireland, work as an editor for her school’s literary magazine and do various design projects including CWRU’s St. Gobain Material Design Competition where her team placed first. All this solidified her love for product innovation and working in interdisciplinary groups. In her free time she enjoys reading anything that is in front of her, blogging about food, and flying kites.

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Moss Amer

TEDCO

Brown University

Moss graduated from Brown University, where he studied both public policy and entrepreneurship. Moss spent the summer of 2012 in Cape Town conducting research for Brown’s Global Entrepreneurship Initiative on the intersection of healthcare and mobile technology. In 2011, he investigated access to social services while studying abroad in Denmark. A strong advocate of sustainability, he has worked for a green consulting firm and a renewable energy trade magazine. His interests include film, political commentary, and ultimate frisbee.

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Peter DiPrinzio

Pixelligent

Middlebury College

Peter studied International Economics and Film at Middlebury College in Vermont. He has worked in the NYC Parks Department’s Marketing office, directed Public Relations for the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver, and performed financial research at a NYC hedge fund. Most recently, Peter helped lead fundraising and communications efforts for Team Middlebury in the Department of Energy’s 2011 Solar Decathlon Competition in Washington, DC. On campus, Peter was the captain of the Men’s Water Polo team and a Head Chef for Dolci, Middlebury’s student restaurant. Peter has also studied in Argentina at Universidad Torcuato diTella in Buenos Aires.

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Wesley Verne

ZeroFOX

Princeton University

Wesley graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Computer Science and a minor in Astrophysical Sciences. A longtime multidisciplinarian, he found his interest in entrepreneurship while working on a hybrid wind-solar power module for disaster relief settings. Wesley has firsthand knowledge working for small companies, most recently at Acadia Mountain Guides during the summer of 2012, and is excited to learn more about how to run a successful start-up. In his free time, Wesley enjoys rock climbing, both indoors and outdoors, and if asked, he will gladly tell you why space exploration is a human imperative or about the latest Wikipedia article he has read.

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Cincinnati

Anh-Ton Tran

Kandid.ly

University of Notre Dame

Anh-Ton majored in IT Management with a minor in French at the University of Notre Dame. A Houston native, he has always been fascinated by technology, culture and expression. Anh-Ton has had a variety of internships working in the Consulting and Entertainment industry. Last summer he interned in Los Angeles for AEG helping them launch the LA Food and Wine Festival, and Participant Media running digital campaigns for their movies and website. In his free time, he loves to cook, write, and competes for the ND rugby team.

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Ben Gregory

myActions

Washington University in St. Louis

Ben studied Economics at Washington University in St. Louis. Originally from Nashville, TN, Ben has a strong interest in economic redevelopment and spent the summer of 2012 working at the largest community development financial institution in Tennessee where he performed lead qualification on the company’s energy efficiency loan program and assisted in preparing financial analyses for small businesses. After founding a microfinance oriented student group at WashU, Ben led a team of like-minded entrepreneurial students to Honduras in January 2013 to help capitalize a community bank and lead workshops to improve financial literacy. In his free time, Ben enjoys cooking, photography, and competing in physical endurance competitions, such as the Tough Mudder.

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Chelsea Amsley

MyActions

Duke University

A graduate of Duke University, Chelsea studied Sociology and Policy Journalism and was a four-time letterman on Duke’s Field Hockey team. Her interest in entrepreneurship came relatively late in her academic career, after picking up an internship with a local start-up to fulfill a major requirement. This experience at a young tech company – paired with a short stint working sales at Oracle — led Chelsea to Venture for America. Ultimately, she traded in Silicon Valley for Cincinnati & VFA, which provided her with what she was missing before: a position at a company whose mission she could stand behind and whose success she could have an influence on. Chelsea spends her free time frequenting coffee labs, exploring clothing boutiques, and indulging in a bit too much ice cream.

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Chris Hikel

Bioformix

Williams College

Chris, a native of western Maine, graduated from Williams College and believes that education and entrepreneurship are vital tools for empowering people to transform themselves and the communities that they care about. As a result he is interested in the potential for technology to make education fun, (almost) free, and effective. In 2011 Chris interned at an economic policy research institute in Cape Town, South Africa, where he helped develop the design plans for a multi-year initiative to promote savings and education amongst government child grant recipients. After returning to the United States he worked in LinkedIn’s sales operations, where he learned the ins and outs of using data to drive decisions in a global, rapidly expanding business. His interests include playing poker, watching movies and stand-up comedy, writing fiction, and spending time with friends.

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Jack Farrell

Petbrosia

Duke University

Jack graduated from Duke University where he was a letterman and scholarship member of the varsity football team and a member of Duke’s Program for Entrepreneurs. His passion for entrepreneurship started with lemonade stands as a child in Atlanta, furthered by the creation of a highlight film company for aspiring college athletes in high school, and then grew into creating and operating a textbook buyback business for student-athletes while at Duke. Jack enjoys exercising, watching movies, cooking and spending as much time as he can with his family.

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Matt Fulton

RoadTrippers

University of Colorado

Matt was a Web Developer and Finance Major (Class of 2013) at the University of Colorado at Boulder. During his time in school, Matt traveled through western Europe, studied abroad in Salamanca, Spain, and spent time in Israel. When not traveling, Matt spends his time learning to code, cofounding StudentJumpStart to connect campus entrepreneurs across disciplines, and creating the first online accelerator. Matt also likes to ski, play guitar, and swim.

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Oliver Li

Bioformix

University of Oklahoma

Oliver studied Industrial Engineering and Economics at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK. He realized he wanted to pursue entrepreneurship from his intern experience at the Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth, where he helped developed a scalable method to provide clean drinking water in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia and led research for commercializing a fatty acid production process. He also worked in venture capital at the Oklahoma Life Science Fund. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, experimenting with cooking, and following/playing basketball.

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Cleveland

Brian Feldman

Application Bootcamp

Washington University in St. Louis

Brian graduated from Washington University in St. Louis where he studied Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology, Classics, and Creative Writing. He grew up in Rhode Island and spent his summers working as the lead editor for Application Boot Camp, a premier college admissions consultancy, and as an educator at the Farm School, a sustainable agriculture program. In addition to studying abroad in Athens, Greece and at the University of Oxford, Brian has worked as a research assistant in three psychology labs, has conducted a study on infants’ social preferences, and has authored an Ancient Greek exercise manual. Some of his interests include basketball, fonts, writing, and meeting new people.

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Charlie Mohn

Decision Desk

Georgetown University

Charlie graduated from Georgetown University, where he double majored in Finance and International Business and minored in Theology. Charlie also studied strategy and finance at the University of Oxford in the summer of 2011. At Georgetown, Charlie was involved with the club tennis team, as well as Hilltop Consultants, a student group that does pro bono consulting projects for non-profit clients throughout the United States. Charlie has had internships in consulting, internet marketing, finance and sales. He also had the chance to work for Senator Maria Cantwell on Capitol Hill. He grew up in South Seattle, where he experienced how the entrepreneurial spirit can transform a community. Charlie enjoys running, biking, hiking and open water rowing in the Pacific Northwest. With the help of VFA, Charlie aspires to learn about urban development and revitalization while developing his business and leadership skills.

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Christopher Cusack

Cleveland Cavaliers

Duke University

Chris Cusack studied public policy and economics at Duke University, though he has spent most of his collegiate career writing about sports in the office of The Chronicle, Duke’s independent daily student newspaper, where he served as sports editor. He most recently interned in Northern Ireland at Lisburn People’s Support Project, a community organization that aims to revitalize the local economy through microenterprise, where he helped write business plans and compile an oral history database of individual experiences during The Troubles. His interest in entrepreneurship, though, started as an intern at FindTheBest.com, a comparison search engine startup based in his hometown of Santa Barbara, Calif. In his free time, he enjoys pick-up basketball, playing the guitar, and following the San Francisco Giants.

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Eric Olson

GenomOncology

University of Virginia

The son of a nurse and mechanical engineer, Eric looked to combine the two fields by studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia. In college, he designed a device to treat intractable epilepsy, collaborating with the Department of Neurology. While spending last summer diving head first into this project, he went to some of UVA’s Darden School of Business incubator luncheons and realized nurturing young technologies and ideas was his passion. An avid Virginia sports fan and budding outdoorsman, Eric cherishes time spent tweaking his jump shot, snowboarding, and recently, climbing boulders in Joshua Tree.

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Mehves Tangun

Linestream

Brown University

Mehves graduated from Brown University, double majoring in Engineering and Economics. She grew up in Istanbul, Turkey. Throughout her summers, Mehves worked in variety of industries such as an FX Trader in Deutsche and as a media analyst in Dick Clarck Productions. Her interest in entrepreneurship peaked in freshman year summer when she opened a bakery in Chepkanga, Kenya from scratch. During her senior year, Mehves got interested in start-ups and worked on two business plans, one which won the RI Elevator Pitch Competition’12 and the other attracted great attention after a VC presentation. With the help of VFA, Mehves aspires to build her own knowledge of how to work in a start-up, going beyond convention and add valuable skills to a start up with her strong communication and presentation skills along with her passion.

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Peter Spaulding

Boxcast

Yale University

Peter majored in Political Science at Yale University. A Maryland native, Peter spent last summer at a Washington, D.C. education startup spearheading the development of the non-profit branch of the organization. The prior summer, he worked in the office of Congressman Steny Hoyer on Capitol Hill completing legislative research and managing correspondence with constituents. At Yale, Peter was a member of the varsity lacrosse team and a passionate contributor to numerous charitable activities and student outreach programs, one of which he managed. He looks forward to continuing his sporting and community service interests long after graduation. Some of Peter’s other interests include boating, fishing, and cooking.

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Sam Roberts

Paragon Robotics

Case Western Reserve University

Sam graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a major in Mechanical Engineering, Physics, and History and Philosophy of Science. In between quite a lot of coursework, he found time to get involved with the Engineering Honor Society, and has been involved heavily in his fraternity, serving in numerous positions from Corresponding Secretary to Vice President. Additionally, he participated in two Cooperative Education internships, where he got out of the classroom and was able to tackle some real world problems. Sam enjoys playing ultimate Frisbee when he can and is an avid sailor. He’s excited to be a part of the 2013 class of Venture for America.

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Detroit

Alex Persky-Stern

Stik

Wesleyan University

Alex studied math-econ at Wesleyan University. Alex spent a summer in rural Honduras at a startup microfinance organization, where he became passionate about social enterprise. At Wesleyan, Alex started several initiatives to bring social enterprise to campus, consulted for local social enterprises through his role as co-director of the Wesleyan Consulting Group, and talks about social enterprise all the time. In his spare time, Alex enjoys eating and sitting in the sun.

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Brennan Crispin

iRule

University of Michigan

Brennan is a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Engineering, where he studied Engineering Physics. He recently returned from two years in Kenya with the Peace Corps, where he taught physics and chemistry in a small secondary school on Lake Victoria. During his college years he was involved in research on micro-scale power generation, cyborg insects, and lithium battery recycling. Brennan lead a student team that traveled to Guatemala to design and build foot powered water pumps. He was also a member of the Michigan Marching Band, where he played trumpet. Brennan’s other interests include running, singing, pedagogy, and how technology can bring positive change to the lives of people around the world.

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Eleanor Meegoda

Detroit Venture Partners

Princeton University

Eleanor graduated with honors in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and International Affairs. A passionate problem-solver, Eleanor spent most of her college summers working in Tanzania and South Africa where she learned from slum dwellers about the art and struggle of providing microfinance and organizing for better public services, access to loans, and political voice. Curious about the unintended consequences of grant-based funding, she interviewed non-profits across Malawi for her senior thesis to understand how they accessed funding and its effect on their relationship with government. On campus, she spearheaded the creation of “The Real Food Co-op,” a student communal cooking and dining cooperative, founded “Lotus Cafe,” a weekly wine-and-tea-filled dialogue for students to discuss personal and community issues, and partnered with fellow students to incite a campus-wide mental health movement. After graduation, she co-authored a paper that develops a framework for understanding how different types of technology-enabled networks can be harnessed for international development. She then became a research associate at the Rockefeller Foundation. She loves capoeira, trying new foods, and good conversation.

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Eric Huang

iRule

University of Notre Dame

Eric is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where he studied Entrepreneurship. Originally from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Eric discovered his love for Entrepreneurship while working for a start-up in High School and through a pre-college entrepreneurship program at the University of Maryland. Eric has expressed his passion for technology by working with a web design and development business for the past seven years. Through internships and professional experience, Eric has also been given the opportunity to influence and understand how products are created giving him an understanding of the importance of User Experience Design in a start-up or any business. He also enjoys playing squash, playing video games, and coming up with (hopefully) world changing start-up concepts.

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Evan Brandoff

Benzinga

University of Texas

Evan studied at The McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas, where he majored in Finance. A Long Island, New York native, Evan first became interested in Entrepreneurship in high school, when he founded and co-hosted the online sports radio talk show, “Sports Heaven With Mark and Evan.” Some of Evan’s past summer internships have been with Marquis Jet Partners, Tequila Avion, and Goldman Sachs. Evan has spent his last two years of college interning for Raptor Accelerator, a venture capital firm, where Evan became embedded in the Austin startup community. Some of Evan’s interests are traveling, playing and watching sports, and spending time with family and friends.

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Fiona O’Leary Sloan

U3 Ventures

Washington University in St. Louis

Fiona graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Anthropology, Creative Writing, & Public Health. Passionate about women’s issues and social change, she developed a non-profit advocacy campaign for sexual abuse survivors as an intern with Seattle’s Intiman Theatre, and later went on to coach a basketball team in rural India, engage in STI/HIV prevention outreach work with Project ARK in St. Louis, intern with the World Health Organization in Fiji, teach sexual education courses in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and work in the public diplomacy of global hunger with the U.S. Department of State in Rome, Italy. She competed nationally as a spoken word poet with WU-Slam and loves nothing more than a great conversation that spills into the wee hours. She enjoys spending time abroad, having lived a year each in Brazil and Italy, and is fluent in Brazilian Portuguese and Italian.

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Franklin Weldon

Fontinalis Partners

Morehouse College

Franklin graduated from Morehouse College with an Economics concentration. His interest in entrepreneurship began during his participation in the LEAD program at Dartmouth College in 2008 where he was exposed to numerous enthusiastic entrepreneurs. While an avid cello player and a guitarist for a number of Georgia bands, Franklin found time to join his school debate team who went on to secure three consecutive state titles, and recently a national title.

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Kate Catlin

Grand Circus

Gonzaga University

Kate studied economics and entrepreneurship at Gonzaga University, where she was a member of the Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program. Her childhood hiking mountains in the Seattle area drew her attention early to sustainability issues. She has since spent a year lobbying for environmental education in DC and biked across the country to study national energy concerns. Recently she led a delegation representing US Youth to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Doha, Qatar through SustainUS. After Kate spent a semester with a “micro-consignment” startup in Nicaragua, she became passionate about social enterprise and the private sector as a solution to address societal ills while creating jobs. Kate enjoys exploring new trails, countries, street food and microbrews.

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Kwaku Osei

Rock Ventures

Virginia Commonwealth University

Kwaku Osei earned his Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Honors College, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. Thereafter he joined Deloitte Consulting where he focused on technology, business process reengineering, strategic change and communications. In addition, he founded the Deloitte Entrepreneurship Community, a Deloitte community of practice focused on entrepreneurship as well as innovation that seeks to produce thought leadership and more successful entrepreneurial activity through a multi-faceted approach. Prior to joining Deloitte, Kwaku started 4 businesses in various industries; he hopes to use his increasingly growing experience and education to develop many more in the future.

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Matthew Fish

Quicken Loans

Oberlin College

Matt Fish double majored in Economics as well as Law and Society at Oberlin College. Matt has always shown interest in entrepreneurship. Following an internship with Detroit Venture Partners, Matt started his own company helping local businesses promote their services to the surrounding community. Matt has spent the last two years working closely with the startup Hired My Way performing a variety of roles in market research and financial modeling. When Matt isn’t working he can be found participating in a variety of athletic activities. After winning a state championship in baseball during his high school years, Matt went on to play two years on Oberlin’s baseball team.

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Mike Wilner

Motozuma

Washington and Lee University

Mike (@mwil20), a Baltimore native, graduated from Washington and Lee University where he majored in Mathematics and Business Administration. He developed an interest in Venture Capital and Entrepreneurship when he interned at a venture capital firm the summer after his Sophomore year. After an internship at JP Morgan the next summer, he decided to return to entrepreneurship and was drawn to VFA. At W&L, Mike played basketball for two seasons, served as treasurer of his fraternity, and served as a student consultant for local businesses. His interests include playing basketball, watching the Ravens, listening to soul music (especially Mo-town), and (watching) standup comedy.

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Rachel Hyman

Detroit Labs

University of Chicago

Rachel, a Midwest native, studied Geography at the University of Chicago. She is interested in the intersection of cities and entrepreneurship, and her favorite activity in any city is to explore. Rachel was a True Entrepreneur Corps Fellow in 2012, working as a marketing intern at Metamarkets in San Francisco. Rachel was also on one of the winning teams in Chicago Startup Weekend in 2011. Rachel is an active member of the literary community and founded the Anthology of Chicago, a project that aims to collect poems and stories that evoke the spirit of Chicago’s many neighborhoods. She also co-founded and runs a lit blog (Banango Lit) and a lit journal (Banango Street), and writes poetry when she has a minute.

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Sean Jackson

Rock Ventures

University of California Santa Barbara

Sean studied Political Science at UC Santa Barbara, but inevitably spent most of his time rock climbing, cliff jumping, and fencing. Sean also serves in the United States Marine Corps Reserves as a Civil Affairs Advisor with 1st Civil Affairs Group in Camp Pendleton, California. He has supported the establishment of medical and dental clinics in Gonaives, Haiti; the rebuilding of an inuit village near Bethel, Alaska; and attended the Finnish Defence Forces crisis management course in Tuusula, Finland. Most recently, Sean supported economic and governance development initiatives in Helmand Province, Afghanistan while working with the civil-military Provincial Reconstruction Team to increase societal capacity and stability. Sean is passionate about economic development and has seen first hand how business ventures can change the fabric of a society, he hopes to apply the skill sets he learned abroad to tackling problems here at home. When not galavanting around the world, Sean enjoys making short films and embarrassing himself while trying to perform standup comedy.

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Stella Safari

Invest Detroit

Dartmouth College

Stella hails from eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. She grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland and attended High Point High School where she served as the Student Body President. Stella graduted this past year from Dartmouth College. She studied Women’s and Gender Studies and Mathematical Social Sciences. With a passion for gender issues and social equity, Stella developed initiatives to address gender issues in the Congo and at Dartmouth College. She has worked with start-up non-profits such as Falling Whistles and Global Grassroots, interned at the Center for Women and Gender, and the Center for International Private Enterprise. Stella believes in the power of entrepreneurship to drive social change. She has a passion for fashion and is looking forward to running her own (affordable) fashion empire in the future. Her ultimate goal is to be trailblazer in the business world and empower young women of all backgrounds to pursue their dreams.

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Steven Mazur

Stik

North Carolina State University

Steven left Sterling Heights, Michigan to attend North Carolina State University as a Park Scholar, where he studied Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering. During his freshman year, Steven founded Triangle Youth Leadership Services, a youth leadership development organization dedicated to empowering and motivating high school students to create change within their communities. Through NC State’s Engineering Entrepreneurs Program, Steven also started a telemedical company that efficiently connects emergency physicians to specialists and was recently named a StartingBloc Fellow. Steven spent semesters abroad in Istanbul and Cape Town and summers with ExxonMobil and an Army research center, and credits these experiences with inspiring him to revitalize Metro Detroit. Throughout his four years at NC State, he has also performed as part of the 350-member marching band.

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Taylor Sundali

Doodle Home

Middlebury College

Taylor grew up in Sun Valley, Idaho and graduated from Middlebury College in 2012 with a degree in Economics. During high school, he was an internationally-competitive nordic skier and owned and operated his own window washing operation to finance athletic endeavors. At Middlebury, he was an active member in the residential life community serving as both a First Year Counselor and a Residential Advisor for Student Employees. He was also a varsity member of the Cross Country Skiing and Cross Country Running teams for the College. During this past year he worked as a business analyst at C&S Wholesale Grocers. His other interests include Hiking, Biking, swimming, cliff-jumping, building snow forts and eating great food.

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Las Vegas

Adam Joseph

Project 100

University of Virginia

Adam studied Global Development and French at the University of Virginia, where he is a Jefferson Scholar. Originally from San Francisco, Adam has pursued his global interests in college by studying abroad in Paris and interning at Global Health Strategies, a media and communications strategy consulting firm in New York City. Outside of the classroom at UVA, Adam spent his time serving as an investigation coordinator in UVA’s honor system, volunteering as a teaching assistant in ESL classes, coaching YMCA basketball, and leading Alternative Spring Break trips. His other interests include baseball, acting, road trips, and skiing.

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Alison Sheppard

The Downtown Project

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ali graduated from MIT last year with dual undergraduate and master’s degrees in City Planning. Though she was born, raised, and educated in the Boston area, her wanderlust and curiosity have taken her across the country and around the globe to study urban problems and solutions. Throughout college, she has worked with a large governmental organization in Mexico City, a small non-profit in New Orleans, and multiple research groups at MIT. She has had the opportunity to study abroad in India, Senegal, and Argentina through a comparative studies program, participate in workshop and studio classes in China and Singapore, and implement sustainable development projects in Tanzania. She has returned from these opportunities with a passion for improving cities here in the US and a strong conviction that these improvements are often best made by passionate people, from the ground up.

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Astrid Schanz-Garbassi

Turntable Health

Middlebury College

Astrid grew up in Larchmont, New York, and graduated from Middlebury College in 2012 where she majored in Physics and minored in Chinese. When she was not playing for the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team, memorizing Chinese characters or giving tours to prospective students, Astrid could be found fulfilling her duties as president of “YouPower”: a bike-room she began on campus that produces electricity. She loves the project because it combines her passions for athletics and energy awareness, and convinced her that she wants to run her own business. After graduating, she decided to stay at Middlebury for a year to support and recruit for MiddCORE, an amazing summer course on entrepreneurship and innovation. An avid soccer player, runner, cycler and hiker, Astrid is also fond of word games, riddles and puzzles.

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David Roger

The Downtown Project

Cornell University

David graduated from Cornell University where he studied Industrial Labor Relations. Before beginning his collegiate career, he took a gap year and lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Jerusalem, Israel to strengthen his foreign language skills. At college, David became enthralled with entrepreneurship, which led him to launch the Cornell branch of The Odyssey newspaper. The next summer he worked for Gust, an online platform to connect entrepreneurs with angel investors. David grew up in New York City, which afforded him the opportunity to eat and cook delicious foods–a primary passion of his. Despite his distance from the mountains, he also loves to ski.

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Jacob Eichengreen

Project 100

Wesleyan University

Jacob majored in the College of Social Studies, an interdisciplinary program in History, Government, Economics and Social Theory, at Wesleyan University. Jacob spent the past two summers studying post-conflict business development in East Africa, which has given him a profound appreciation for the link between businesses and the communities they operate in. At Wesleyan, Jacob helped establish and build an entirely student run cafe that has proved to be immensely popular on campus. In his free moments, Jacob enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, fishing, gypsy jazz guitar, a good barbecue, and is looking forward to finishing his private pilot’s license sometime in the near future.

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Jim Plew

The Downtown Project

Indiana University

Jim studied Finance and International Studies at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. A native of Indianapolis, Jim has grown up studying, training, and eventually teaching martial arts in his local community. Throughout college he has worked on a collaborative research project at the IU School of Medicine, spent a semester as an intern at Merrill Lynch, and studied abroad in England at the University of Oxford. Though he’d originally planned to pursue a career in Investment Banking, he discovered his passion for startups after receiving university funding and support to develop a software venture on campus. In his free time, Jim enjoys dabbling in graphic design, having deep conversations, and expanding his appreciation for music and literature.

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Patrick McAnaney

The Downtown Project

Rice University

Patrick graduated from Rice University in 2010 with a degree in History and Policy Studies. He traveled to Brazil in 2011 on a Fulbright scholarship to study waste-picker cooperatives and stayed there afterward to help build a start-up social enterprise in the sector. At Rice, Patrick served as president of the Student Association and founded the Rice Endowment for Sustainable Energy Technology, which sponsors energy initiatives across campus. He studied abroad in Bolivia in 2008, where he researched the use of solar energy in rural development. He also performed field research in Nicaragua for his senior thesis on U.S. foreign aid programs in the country. Patrick’s interests include piano, foreign languages, marathon running, college sports, current events, and hiking. He provides regular commentary about waste-picker issues and economic development in Brazil on his blog, “Patrick Talks Trash”.

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Shilpi Kumar

Qualifyor

Duke University

Shilpi (@_shilpikumar) aspires to be a game-changer. After hearing Andrew Yang speak at the DNC, she decided to pursue entrepreneurship and couldn’t be more excited to join VFA. At Duke, Shilpi took an interdisciplinary approach to studying human decision-making, with a focus on neuroscience and economics — but really spent most of her time over-committing to student organizations and creating life-long friendships. She has worked for a social media firm in Paris, a blog advertising startup in Durham, and the UN Women office in Reykjavik. Most recently, Shilpi was an advertising operations summer intern at LinkedIn. Shilpi is passionate about revitalizing American cities, bolstering corporate social responsibility, and creating substantive leadership opportunities for women.

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New Orleans

Alex Rawitz

Idea Village

Cornell University

At Cornell Alex studied History with a focus on International Relations and the Cold War, but he did most of his learning in the various business he was a part of and as a leader in the storied Cornell Greek system. He worked on the business team of the Cornell Daily Sun; was Operations Manager for Ithaca’s largest full service shipping and storage company, Big Red Shipping and Storage; and served as the Business Manager for the Cornellian yearbook. As the Vice President of Recruitment for the Interfraternity Council Alex worked to promote the positive values and lessons of Greek life in the face of growing national criticism. When he wasn’t working, you could find Alex in the gym, on the basketball court, or relaxing at his second home overlooking Cayuga Lake, Sigma Pi.

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Alexander Bea

Voodoo Ventures

Middlebury College

Alex majored in Mathematics and Economics at Middlebury College. He spent two summers creating sustainable fishing models at the Caltech Department of Economics, and he interned with a startup incubator called the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies. When Alex isn’t meeting with entrepreneurs, he’s working on Jiminy, his project that produces cricket-infused energy bars that give children the protein and iron they need. Each bar purchased helps fund cricket farms in Kenya that give these same critical nutrients to children that need them dearly. In his spare time, Alex enjoys playing volleyball and soccer, and on the weekends, some know him as DJ Beawulf.

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Alexandra Snedeker

Green Coast Enterprises

University of North Carolina

Alex graduated from the University of North Carolina where he majored in Environmental Science and minoring in Marine Science. A Cary native, she discovered her passion for sustainability through her interactions with local decision-makers in the field and her fascination with the endless connections between human actions and natural processes. In addition to participating in multiple research experiences, including an honors thesis in bacterial ecology and a month-long research cruise, she is interested in social issues, conducting outreach for a poverty eradication organization and chairing an environmental justice organization. Last summer, she developed a youth education program for a community that has lived for decades with a municipal landfill in its backyard with the goal of developing the next generation of scientists and community activists. As a four-term Sustainability Office intern, she helped manage the office’s outreach and events and loved to network with student and departmental leaders. Her other interests include SCUBA diving, spontaneous road trips, reading long novels, and sewing her own clothes.

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John Yarchoan

John graduated from Amherst College, where he studied economics and political science. A captain of the men’s ultimate frisbee team and founder of a lampoon newspaper, John also had a passion for meteorology, which he followed by interning at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and trading weather commodities. He enjoys things that happen outside, such as skiing, hiking, and thunderstorms, in addition to things that make him laugh. He also believes strongly in VFA’s social mission to revitalize American cities through entrepreneurship.

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Maxwell Walters

CMG Enterprises

Boston College

Maxwell graduated from Boston College, where he studied in the Carroll School of Management with a concentration in Information Systems. He is a native of Southern California where he was fortunate to spend the majority of his life outdoors, especially on the baseball fields. After moving east for college and embracing the differences in climate, culture, and history, Maxwell is constantly seeking new life experiences. He believes that the value of these experiences lives in the more nuanced perspective with which one sees the world, work, and life everyday. His time in college has been one of self-discovery, where he cultivated his belief in the power of entrepreneurship, environmentally sustainable initiatives, and the importance of informed conversations on the problems facing society. Through his experience working at start-up companies and at home with his family, Max has found the most fulfillment from work in the development of an idea from inception to realization. His free time is spent listening to and discovering music, reading, playing pick-up games of any sport, practicing yoga and exploring.

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Zubin Teherani

ID Scan

Georgetown University

Zubin graduated from Georgetown University, where he majored in Government and minored in Chinese and Business. Zubin’s parents are originally from Hong Kong and Iran, but he considers himself a proud Texan. While at Georgetown, Zubin studied abroad in China and Spain, where he discovered his love of languages. He also worked for the Corp, which is the largest completely student-run business in the US, and was president of Compass Strategy Advisors, which is an organization that promotes social entrepreneurship by helping students start social businesses. Zubin was also actively involved in welcoming new students to campus as a New Student Orientation leader and also helped lead a freshman retreat program called ESCAPE. His other interests include basketball, Hip-Hop dancing, and parkour.

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Philadelphia

Chris Cruz

Curalate

University of Pennsylvania

Chris graduated from University of Pennsylvania where he studied Urban Studies and Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He grew up in Minnesota and New York, and spent his summer working for Credit Suisse on the Sales and Trading Floor. Chris started several ventures at Penn, such as PennCycle, Penn’s first bike share, and the UPenn Memory Team, which competes in the USA Memory Championship. He has also served on the Undergraduate Assembly, performed with Onda Latina dance troupe, chaired the United Minorities Council, and is part of Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity. Some of his interests include salsa dancing, memory training, blogging, and meeting new people.

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Eli Schwarz

LeadiD

Haverford College

Born in Washington, DC, Eli moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, when he was eleven years old. He attended R.J. Reynolds High School and was elected class president for three consecutive years. He majored in economics at Haverford College, where he played on the varsity basketball team every year. Eli’s senior thesis investigates the relationship between athletic motivation and labor market outcomes, measured by income and employment status. Eli recognized his passion for entrepreneurship this past summer while working for Brad Aronson, a successful young businessman who hired Eli to use SEO and social media campaigns to drive traffic to his startup blog, bradaronson.com. Eli’s immersion into the Philadelphia startup community led him to attend a Hackathon event where he competed on a team of entrepreneurs to develop a business and win seed money. His growing interest in entrepreneurship led him to work for an education startup (LLESSInc) and an innovative basketball-specific apparel startup (POINT3). Eli was also a mentor for Startup Corps, teaching high school students about entrepreneurship and coaching them as they develop their own businesses. He recently began working with two of his friends to develop an iPhone application and looks forward to developing more innovative endeavors as a Fellow.

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Katherine Leisy

Curalate

Vanderbilt University

Kate graduated from Vanderbilt University where she majored in Human and Organizational Development and French and the Creative Arts. Having aspired to be everything from a Food Network star to a travel photographer, she could not be more excited to join VFA and channel the inner entrepreneur that she has always dreamed to be. Spending her past two summers interning at Ernst & Young and Warner Music Group, her Vanderbilt days have involved everything from writing for the student newspaper to being social chair of her sorority to co-founding a company, HeyBazaar, which serves as a unique classifieds website for members of the Vanderbilt community. With a love for photography, you can often find her people watching in coffee shops or roaming the streets capturing photos to add to her portfolio. In her free time, she enjoys sampling at Whole Foods, kickboxing, and reading music blogs.

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Paige Boehmcke

Graphene Frontiers

Johns Hopkins University

Paige Boehmcke graduated from Johns Hopkins University where she studied Materials Science & Engineering. Paige started her academic career at the University of Alabama, where she was lucky enough to contribute to a published paper her sophomore year. Paige was especially inspired by working with the HERO revitalization program in Greensboro, Alabama. After transferring to Johns Hopkins, Paige joined the cross country team, and she is one of 57 proud owners of a 2012 Division III Cross Country National Championship ring. During the past year, Paige spent time characterizing a new drug at Bristol-Myers Squibb, completing her senior design project, and helping new student groups grow through her involvement with Senior Leadership Consultants.

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Providence

Allison Shea

Teespring

St. Lawrence University

Alli studied Creative Writing and Rhetoric at St. Lawrence University in Northern New York. She is a self-described student government geek, having served as the organization’s student life chair, and eventually vice president. She interned for a healthy eating initiative for kids, a hospitality start-up in Brooklyn, and in her university’s communications office, where she worked extensively on clients relations, event-planning, and marketing. Prior to her junior year, Alli cycled across country with Bike & Build, raising money and awareness for affordable housing. This inspired her to be involved in the movement to create more employment opportunities, especially in lower-income cities. When she’s not snowboarding or riding her bike around town, Alli enjoys meeting new people, cooking for friends, and all other things adventure.

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Andrew Jankowski

Andera

Dartmouth College

Andrew is a graduate of Dartmouth College. He grew up in New London, New Hampshire, and went to high school at Phillips Exeter Academy. He studied Engineering modified with Studio Art and minored in Computer Science. When he was not busy playing golf for the varsity team, he was found in the project lab, the computer lab, or grilling burgers with friends outside of his fraternity (Beta Alpha Omega) where he was Vice President. He has empathy for users with real world needs and a passion for constructing elegant solutions. His interests include product design, industrial design, mobile applications, user experience design, and photography. He hopes to one day start his own golf putter and apparel company.

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Avery Houser

Teespring

Brown University

Avery graduated from Brown University where he studied English, focusing on American literature. He is a jack of many trades, having interned in advertising, finance, publishing, film, and recently at Sir Kensington’s, a ketchup startup. At Brown he edited Paper & Pixel, the school’s only photography magazine. Avery has also taught sex-ed at a Providence public school, and contributed his writing and photography to a handful of campus publications. He grew up in New York City but took a semester off of school to live in Portland, OR and brew beer. He enjoys making all kinds of things, playing tennis, and cycling.

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Ben Goldstein

Betaspring

Princeton University

Ben graduated from Princeton University where he studied mostly Chinese in the East Asian Studies department. He made some extra cash in high school selling candy and flipping old guitars on eBay, and he’s been hooked on entrepreneurship ever since. His summers have been spent splitting time between picking up language skills in China and making things happen for a handful of start-ups on both coasts. In his spare time, he likes to shoot pool and dream about waves.

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Claire Kim

Swipely

Harvard University

Claire studied Social Studies at Harvard University. Though she always envisioned that she would study English and eventually become a writer, Claire fell in love with politics after a six month gig working as a community organizer for a New Hampshire congressional campaign in 2010. Since then, she has developed an internship program for Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign and produced materials and social media content for Rootstrikers, an organization that seeks to combat political corruption caused by special interest money. At Harvard, Claire invested most of her time in various public service organizations, though she also worked as a tour guide, led backpacking trips for freshmen, and was a member of Delta Gamma Fraternity. Claire enjoys spoken word poetry, making/listening to music, adventuring, and doing anything outdoors.

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Frank Teng

Maker Media

Yale University

Frank graduated from Yale University, majoring in Psychology. He is passionate for all types of learning and exploring, and has extensive interests in graphic design, 3D printing, and backpacking across continents. Frank was a member of Sigma Chi, and serves on the National Alumni Relations Committee. Born and raised in LA, he hopes to retire in a beach house one day.

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Giuseppe Crosti

Social Providence

Duke University

Giuseppe grew up in Milan, Italy, and moved to the United States to attend Duke University. At Duke, he studied Biology and Political Science, and divided his time on campus between working in a developmental biology lab, playing the violin in the Duke Symphony Orchestra, and the occasional golf or soccer tournament. He developed an interest in entrepreneurship during the summer of 2012, when he worked as a marketing intern at Wiredset, an internet startup in New York City. Keen to explore new and different cultures, he has travelled extensively throughout Europe, the United States, and the Middle East, and has studied abroad in South Africa.

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Jonathan Hills

Ximedica

Brown University & RISD

Jon graduated from the Dual Degree Program at Brown and RISD with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a BFA in Furniture Design. Always interested in finding new ways to merge the fields of Engineering and Design, his ambition is to design useful and accessible objects whose beauty comes from the elegance of an optimized structure and manufacturing process. When he’s not in the studio or the lab, he can be found playing Ultimate Frisbee wearing a stylish trucker hat.

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Michael Cunningham

Social Providence

University of Pittsburgh

Cincinnati-native Mike Cunningham (@mikejcunn) graduated from the University of Pittsburgh where he majored in Bioengineering. He has never had a dull moment at Pitt, playing three years of club volleyball, singing in four a cappella groups on campus, and also completing two years of research in regenerative medicine. He also completed internships in auto accident reconstruction, business marketing, and oncology research. In his spare time, he played in two acoustic duos, Bailey Park and Mike & Danny, helped run the Music Engineering Lab (MEL) at the Swanson School of Engineering, and enjoyed supporting live and local music. He loves trying and cooking new foods, being outdoors, and meeting new people.

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Rachel Apostoles

Focal Upright Furniture

Duke University

Rachel graduated from Duke University where she studied Spanish and Policy Journalism/Media Studies. Rachel’s entrepreneurial interests were first kindled when she started a cookie company with her sister in high school. Since then, she has cultivated her business sense by interning in diverse work environments including a PR firm in NYC, a magazine in Durham, North Carolina, and a naval shipyard in Newport News, Virginia. Outside of the classroom, Rachel was an indoor cycling instructor and volunteers with Girls on the Run, a program that teaches 8 to 13 year-old girls life skills through running. She could not be more excited about gearing up with VFA.

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Thomas Lynam

Teespring

Yale University

Tom (@tomlynam) graduated from Yale University with a double major in German and environmental engineering. He hails from Alexandria, Virginia, where in 2009 he graduated salutatorian from T.C. Williams High School (of “Remember the Titans” fame). Tom held several part time jobs on campus, including managing digital media for Open Yale Courses and writing content for the Yale Sports Publicity Department. He was a member of the Yale heavyweight crew team, and also played the alto saxophone in a pops orchestra on campus. Tom holds dual citizenship with the U.S. and Ireland and competed for the Irish National Team at the 2012 World Rowing Under 23 Championships and the 2012 World University Rowing Championships.

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Zoe Chaves

Splitwise

Brown University

Zoe graduated from Brown University, where she studied Architectural Studies with an urban planning focus. She took courses in the Political Science, Urban Studies, Public Policy and Public Health departments because she’s interested in how cities tick, change and thrive. She engaged heavily with the city of Providence throughout her time at Brown, working to grow the local chapter of the non-profit Health Leads and leading a team of undergraduates studying health disparities in Providence. She spent a semester abroad travelling between Brazil, South Africa and Vietnam to study urban planning and governance in nations with developing economies. Zoe’s hobbies include reading, creative writing and cooking.

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