NextGen Journal Features VFA Fellows

NextGen Journal, a “website for the next generation,” is run by a team of college students from around the nation. Every week, the website will feature a fellow from the Venture for America Class of 2012 in its “Future Entrepreneurs” series. If you haven’t already, check out the articles below!

In week one, NextGen Journal featured Chelsea Koglmeier, a VFA fellow who recently graduated from Duke with a degree in Public Policy. Read the article to find out what Chelsea thought of the first ever VFA Training Camp and see why she’s so excited to join The Brandery in Cincinnati.

Future Entrepreneurs: Chelsea Koglmeier Joins The Brandery

 

Next, the series featured Brian Rudolph of Emory University, who seemed destined to become an entrepreneur since the days of selling candy from his middle school locker. In the feature, Brian discusses founding his own music website in college and why he’s looking forward to working for Detroit startup Quikkly.

Future Entrepreneurs: Brian Rudolph Joins Quikkly

 

Then last week, MIT grad Kathy Cheng explained that after a service trip to Calcutta, India, she realized enterprise in the U.S. is just as important as it is abroad. According to Kathy, her job at Doodle Home in Detroit is the perfect way to combine her creative side and business analytical side.

Future Entrepreneurs: Kathy Cheng Joins Doodle Home

 

So who’s it going to be this week? Don’t forget to keep up with NextGen Journal to find out!

Fellow Spotlight: Billy Schrero, Tulane University

 

Name: Billy Schrero

Hometown: Highland Park, IL

University: Tulane ‘12

Major: English

 

What led you to apply for Venture for America?

My time at Tulane exposed me to a number of interesting topics and perspectives, but it wasn’t until I enrolled in a number of eye-opening service learning courses, and a senior year fellowship working at Tulane’s Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching, that I knew I wanted to pursue a career as a social entrepreneur. VFA seemed like the ideal program to develop the knowledge needed to one day start my own company.

What were you doing when you found out you were accepted?

I was on a bus driving towards Covington, Louisiana for a day of river tubing with my friends. My excitement did not allow for as much relaxation as I had planned, but it was still an amazing day.

What are you most excited about with regard to VFA? What do you hope to accomplish?

Building a network of innovative peers who share my entrepreneurial spirit and having the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to an emerging company. I hope to help my company grow beyond the founders expectations, and to win the prize at the conclusion of the fellowship.

If you had to live one place for the rest of your life, where would you choose?

Chicago. Not only is it one of the most beautiful, innovative and accessible cities I have been to, but also it is filled with my family and oldest friends.

Best thing about Tulane: The opportunities to engage with New Orleans residents and contribute to the growth of the city… and the food, music, and festivals/parades/second-lines in NOLA.

Favorite Book: Sun Tzu’s The Art of War

Favorite childhood TV Show: Boy Meets World

Favorite meal: My mom’s lamb chops.

Role model: Michael Jordan. Could it be anyone else having grown up in Chicago in the 90’s?

Favorite holiday: Mardi Gras!

Best class you’ve ever taken: “Aristotle in New Orleans,” a persuasive writing course that focused on developing a culture of rhetoric and debate in local New Orleans Middle Schools.

Favorite movie quote: “I’ll tell you this: in any fight, it’s the guy who’s willing to die who’s gonna win that inch. And I know, if I’m gonna have any life anymore, it’s because I’m still willing to fight and die for that inch. Because that’s what living is, the six inches in front of your face. Now I can’t make you do it. You’ve got to look at the guy next to you; look into his eyes. Now I think you’re going to see a guy who will go that inch with you.” – Any Given Sunday, Tony D’Amato’s (Al Pacino) final pre-game speech

Favorite thing to do on Sunday: Watch football/play basketball.

Favorite entrepreneur: My dad

Favorite cereal: Honey Nut Cheerios and a sliced banana.

Most worn article of clothing: Lucky red and blue striped socks.

Favorite sports team: Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs (Chicago).

Best trip you’ve ever been on: Backpacking trip through Lake Superior Provincial Park – it rained half the time, we ran out of food a day early, and it could not have been more fun.

Favorite historical figure: Gandhi

Accomplishment you’re most proud of: My proudest accomplishment is being a loyal and devoted son, brother, uncle, and friend to those closest to me.

Fellow Spotlight: Jude Stanion, UNC Chapel Hill

 

Name:    Jude Stanion

Hometown: Durham, NC

University: University of North Carolina ‘12

Major: Anthropology

 

What led you to apply for Venture for America?

I get anxious when I’m bored. I’ve never been afraid of small spaces, but I describe my relationship with prolonged boredom as claustrophobia. VFA is a way to continue to learn and grow at an accelerated rate with a very low chance of claustrophobic bordom. VFA will certainly be fun, but fun isn’t the best word for it. There will be some days when the word fear will be more appropriate, but I don’t think I’ll ever be bored.

What were you doing when you found out you were accepted?

Folding clothes, probably socks.

Now that you’re a fellow, what are you most excited about with regard to VFA? What do you hope to accomplish?

I think the community of fellows will be the best aspect of VFA. I had the thought upon leaving Detroit last year, “If I could bring a handful of the right friends here, we could remake this city.” The sentiment is naive in its ambition, but I never thought that I would be handed this exact opportunity. I’m excited to make some strong bonds this summer and then head out together to get some real work done.

If you had to live one place for the rest of your life, where would you choose?

Asheville, NC

Best thing about UNC: Spring days.

Favorite Book: Usually whatever I’m reading at the time, so East of Eden.

Favorite childhood movie: Cinderella

Favorite meal: Brunch- an excuse to have champagne with breakfast.

Role model: Atticus Finch

Favorite holiday: The days leading up to Christmas.

Best class you’ve ever taken: Eats 101: a food snob’s dream.

Favorite movie quote: “Give me leave to do my utmost.” –Babette’s Feast

Favorite thing to do on Sunday: Cook and eat with friends.

Favorite entrepreneur or start-up company: Andrew Yang, Venture for America

Favorite cereal: Crunchy granola.

Most worn article of clothing: Belt

Favorite sports team: Durham Bulls

Best trip you’ve ever been on: Solo travel to Berlin, Budapest, and Kosovo in 2011.

Favorite historical figure: Theodore Roosevelt

Accomplishment you’re most proud of: I was a life sized piñata for Halloween 2009.

Fellow Spotlight: Scott Lowe, University of Oklahoma

 

Name: Scott Lowe

Hometown: Muskogee, OK

University: University of Oklahoma ‘12

Major: Engineering Physics

 

What led you to apply for Venture for America?

It seemed like a great opportunity that met both of my job requirements: high impact as well as intellectually, professionally, and personally rewarding.

What were you doing when you found out you were accepted?

I was reading in my room. I promptly called my mother, posted to Facebook, then went back to reading.

Now that you’re a fellow, what are you most excited about with regard to VFA? What do you hope to accomplish?

Perhaps I’m a bit ambitious here, but I would ideally like to feel completely prepared to build a company from scratch after my VFA experience.

If you had to live one place for the rest of your life, where would you choose?

This is a question I can’t answer lightly; I simply don’t have enough information. With a gun to my head, I would pick a warm beach.

Best thing about University of Oklahoma: Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth, bar none.

Favorite Book: The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. It really changed my perspective on being human.

Favorite childhood TV show: I loved a lot of shows. A representative sample includes Power Rangers, Dragonball Z, Monster Garage, BattleBots, South Park and Family Guy.

Favorite meal: Panang Curry at Thai Delight in Norman, Oklahoma. Note, this changes regularly.

Role model: Christopher Hitchens

Favorite holiday: Christmas. Everyone is decidedly happier, I get to spend time with the family, and presents are awesome.

Best class you’ve ever taken: Politics of US Economic Policy with Dr. David Ray at OU. Take it.

Favorite movie quote: “On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.” -Fight Club

Favorite thing to do on Sunday: Catch up on things that didn’t get done on the other six days.

Favorite entrepreneur: Thomas Jefferson

Favorite cereal: Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys; it’s a chocolate knock-off of Lucky Charms.

Most worn article of clothing: My purple hoodie. In fact, I’m wearing it right now.

Favorite sports team: OKC Thunder! Truthfully, I don’t much care for sports, but I was really excited that Oklahoma now has a professional sports team.

Best trip you’ve ever been on: Christmas Break senior year. Me, my two roommates, and two fellow engineering physics seniors went on a cross country road trip. We hit Chicago, New York, Boston, and Knoxville in seven days. It was filled with more sleeping in cars and dubstep than you can imagine.

Favorite historical figure: Too many good ones to pick a favorite. I’m a big fan of Thomas Jefferson, Richard Feynman, Abraham Lincoln, Adam Smith, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Galileo Galilei, Martin Luther King Jr., and Carl Sagan just to name a few.

Accomplishment you’re most proud of: I had to pick between VFA and an offer from a Dallas startup the day our offer was due, but I couldn’t decide. I went back and forth all night, built a pro/con matrix, spoke with my mentors, but I still couldn’t decide. I resolved to flip a coin and have’t looked back since.

Fellow Spotlight: Roanne Lee, Georgetown University

 

Name:    Roanne Lee

Hometown: North Hollywood, CA

University: Georgetown University ‘12

Major: Finance and International Business

 

What led you to apply for Venture for America?

I first heard about VFA on NPR (KCRW) while stuck in LA traffic. It sounded like exactly what I wanted to do and I remember repeating the name over and over again for the next thirty minutes until I got home and could write it down on paper.

What were you doing when you found out you were accepted?

Mid-tweet, ack!

Now that you’re a fellow, what are you most excited about with regard to VFA? What do you hope to accomplish?

I’m overwhelmed but also excited to see how much I can learn start-ups/tech related through VFA. I love the idea that there is no limit and I’ll be able to tap into expansive resources and interact with enterprising people.

If you had to live one place for the rest of your life, where would you choose?

Among the cities I’ve visited, probably Amsterdam because it has some of the most beautiful architecture with plenty of progressive and interesting people.

Best thing about Georgetown: Our mascot – this might be shallow but it’s indicative of how cute our new mascot, JJ, really is. (look up the videos!)

Favorite Book: East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Also recently, I found Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman to be perceptive and compelling.

Favorite childhood TV show: Animaniacs

Favorite meal: When my friend treated me for my birthday to the tasting menu at Pure Food and Wine in NYC, I dream about it.

Role model: Frida Kahlo

Favorite holiday: July 4th, just because it’s been so different, but always great, every year.

Best class you’ve ever taken: News, Story, Film – We studied the diverse narratives constructed through newspaper articles, books, and films of three historical events that included the Rodney King trials, the Killing Fields, and the Chicago Leopold and Loeb case.

Favorite movie quote: Butch Cassidy to the Sundance Kid, “Boy, I got vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.”

Favorite thing to do on Sunday: Hiking at Temescal Canyon with my dog and laying by the beach afterwards.

Favorite entrepreneur: Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square

Favorite cereal: Lucky Charms – They’re Magically Delicious!

Most worn article of clothing: Denim button-down shirt.

Favorite sports team: Lakers

Best trip you’ve ever been on: First time in Paris, recording a music video by the Sacre-Coeur.

Favorite historical figure: Michelangelo

Accomplishment you’re most proud of: Climbing Half Dome at Yosemite and finishing the hike down on a sprained ankle.

Fellow Spotlight: Barry Conrad, University of Oklahoma

 

Name:   Barry Conrad

Hometown: Louisville, CO

University: University of Oklahoma ‘12

Major: Finance

 

What led you to apply for Venture for America?

Each year I see entrepreneurially minded individuals give in to the pressures of post collegiate employment and accept high paying positions at highly structured corporations. While the immediate monetary payoff is significant, the lack of creativity and inspiration causes these individuals to lose their passion for innovation. Knowing this, I searched all summer for a position that wouldn’t box me in and, even more so, would allow me to be a part an organization with a social agenda I am completely aligned with. Venture for America was love at first sight (I guess I believe in that now), and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this incredible inaugural fellowship class.

What were you doing when you found out you were accepted?

My fellow University of Oklahoma comrade in arms Scott Lowe called me to inform me of his acceptance at around 2pm. I waited around anxiously for three hours until I had to board the train to Newark to catch my plane. I checked my phone before I entered a long tunnel knowing I would lose cell reception for a few minutes. Nothing. Upon exiting the tunnel I had a voice mail from Andrew letting me know the good news.

Now that you’re a fellow, what are you most excited about with regard to VFA? What do you hope to accomplish?

After meeting a good portion of the selected fellows at the interview I’m thrilled to be associated with such a talented group of individuals from around the country and I look forward to working with them over the next several years.

If you had to live one place for the rest of your life, where would you choose?

Galway, Ireland. Beautiful country, wonderful people, and rain 24/7.

Best thing about Univeristy of Oklahoma: A true sense of family and community within the student body. Also Blake Griffin.

Favorite Book: Harry Potter (obsessed), Catcher and the Rye, The Alchemist

Favorite childhood TV show: Rugrats

Favorite meal: Lasagna

Role model: My little brother Timmy

Favorite holiday: Christmas

Best class you’ve ever taken: AP US History (shout out to Mr. Farrell)

Favorite movie quote: “You’re my boy, Blue! You’re my boy.“ – Old School

Favorite thing to do on Sunday: Catch up on Bill Simmons podcasts

Favorite entrepreneur or start-up company: Entrepreneur: Mark Zuckerberg, Start Up: Square

Favorite cereal: Captain Crunch

Most worn article of clothing: A “Fear the Beard” shirt I got in San Francisco in honor of one of my favorite athletes, Brian Wilson.

Favorite sports team: Oklahoma Sooners Football

Best trip you’ve ever been on: Spent a weekend in Berlin. Fantastic currywurst.

Favorite historical figure: Adam Smith

Accomplishment you’re most proud of: 4×400 track team

Fellow Spotlight: James Fayal, University of Maryland

 

Name:   James Fayal

Hometown: Stonington, CT

University: University of Maryland, College Park ‘12

Major: Finance

 

What led you to apply for Venture for America?

For most of my life I’ve dreamed of starting a successful company and I saw the VFA program as a great launching pad to reach that goal. The program provides us the opportunity to see how a start-up is run, learn what mistakes to avoid and connect with professionals in the field.

What were you doing when you found out you were accepted?

I was watching the Patriots defeat the Ravens in the conference championships. It was a nice surprise to accompany a great victory for my favorite football team.

Now that you’re a fellow, what are you most excited about with regard to VFA? What do you hope to accomplish?

The chance to work at a start-up company is an amazing opportunity that is rarely afforded to new college graduates. I’m also excited to meet influential individuals in venture capital and entrepreneurship. Most of all, I hope to have a tangible and beneficial impact on a young company.

If you had to live one place for the rest of your life, where would you choose?

I would be naïve to think I’ve found it yet…but somewhere with good skiing would be nice.

Best thing about UMD: The major sports scene and the support that the business school provides its students.

Favorite Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

Favorite childhood TV show: Hey Arnold!

Favorite meal: Eggs benedict with extra hollandaise.

Role model: Warren Buffett

Favorite holiday: 4th of July

Best class you’ve ever taken: My high school Psychology of War class

Favorite movie quote: “Toga! Toga!” – Animal House

Favorite thing to do on Sunday: Catch up on sleep and school work, but mostly sleep.

Favorite entrepreneur or start-up company: Entrepreneur: Sir Richard Branson, Start-up: Quirky

Favorite cereal: Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Most worn article of clothing: Levi Jeans

Favorite sports team: Boston Celtics

Best trip you’ve ever been on: Two mission trips to Ecuador

Favorite historical figure: Andrew Jackson – Anybody with a history of dueling and a portrait in the White House is good in my book.

Accomplishment you’re most proud of: Winning the Connecticut Invention Convention and forming a small company around the product I invented.

Fellow Spotlight: Kathy Cheng, MIT

 

Name:   Kathy Cheng

Hometown: East Brunswick, NJ

University: MIT ‘12

Major: Urban Planning

 

What led you to apply for Venture for America?

College has taught me a lot about learning, thinking critically, dreaming big… But after I graduate, I wanted to learn how to do, to get my hands dirty, and to build, though ideally in a company with a great group of individuals. Entrepreneurship, to me, embodies the dynamic environment of “doing” that I wanted to be a part of and VFA seemed like the perfect vehicle to do it. Great cause, great companies, great people.

What were you doing when you found out you were accepted?

I was heading out to dinner because it was Restaurant Week in Boston. Dinner was probably extra celebratory.

Now that you’re a fellow, what are you most excited about with regard to VFA? What do you hope to accomplish?

I’m really excited to get engaged with a company at the ground level and to really become invested and involved. I’m excited to learn all of the practical, unique and quirky skills that makes entrepreneurship happen. And I’m really excited to get to know all of the other fellows who’ve made this same commitment as me.

If you had to live one place for the rest of your life, where would you choose?

I don’t think I’ve seen or traveled enough to really say where I would want to be for the rest of my life, that seems like a really long horizon of time. But if it’s one thing that urban planning has taught me, it’s that I’m really not that partial to suburbia. I like walkability, history and culture, access to good food (and caffeine, that’s important), and a certain sense of coziness or charm. Boston’s been pretty good on all fronts so far.

Best thing about MIT: Our Class Ring, the Brass Rat.

Favorite Book: Geography of Bliss

Favorite childhood TV show: Sailor Moon

Favorite meal: Brunch

Role model: Mother Teresa

Favorite holiday: Christmas

Best class you’ve ever taken: Economics of Education

Favorite movie quote: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.” – Kung Fu Panda

Favorite thing to do on Sunday: The Sunday morning church tradition.

Favorite entrepreneur: Joanne Chang

Favorite cereal: Coco Puffs

Most worn article of clothing: My brown riding boots

Favorite sports team: Lakers! No shame about it, even though I’m in Boston right now…

Best trip you’ve ever been on: Global Urban Trek to Calcutta, India

Favorite historical figure: Coco Chanel

Accomplishment you’re most proud of: Right now, I’m just really proud that I figured out what I want to do next year.

Check out Kathy’s feature in NextGen Journal: Future Entrepreneurs: “Kathy Cheng Joins Doodle Home”

Fellow Spotlight: Sean Lane, Boston College

 

Name:   Sean Lane

Hometown: Holden, MA

University: Boston College ‘12

Major: Communications

 

 

What led you to apply for Venture for America?

Venture for America is such a unique program and offers Fellows an intense, hands-on learning experience that I don’t think you are going to find anywhere else. The entrepreneurial spirit of the program combined with the idea of helping to build a start-up from the ground up really intrigued me.

What were you doing when you found out you were accepted?

I had just come home from my internship and I was on the phone with my mom. A New York number beeped in, I clicked over, and it was Andrew offering me the position.

Now that you’re a fellow, what are you most excited about with regard to VFA? What do you hope to accomplish?

First, I’m really looking forward to getting to know the other Fellows at Training Camp this summer. Also, I’m really looking forward to moving to a new city and getting to know an entirely different place. At the end of my two years with VFA, I want to be able to look back and see how the company I was placed at improved during my time there.

If you had to live one place for the rest of your life, where would you choose?

While I’m very excited to move to a new city for two years, I have always loved Boston and if I could only live in one place, it would be Beantown.

Best thing about BC: Football Tailgates

Favorite Book: Harry Potter Series

Favorite childhood TV show: Boy Meets World

Favorite meal: Chinese Food

Role model: Mr. George Feeny

Favorite holiday: Thanksgiving

Best class you’ve ever taken: Cervantes (in Madrid)

Favorite movie quote: “Great moments are born from great opportunity.” -Miracle

Favorite thing to do on Sunday: Watch the Patriots

Favorite start-up company: Twitter

Favorite cereal: Frosted Flakes

Most worn article of clothing: Future Mountaineer Hockey Clinic t-shirt

Favorite sports team: Boston Bruins

Best trip you’ve ever been on: My semester abroad in Madrid

Favorite historical figure: Abraham Lincoln

Accomplishment you’re most proud of: Starting and running a hockey clinic

Fellow Spotlight: Sam Stites, Vassar College

 

Name: Sam Stites

Hometown: Washington, DC

University: Vassar College ‘12

Major: Mathematics & Physics

 

What led you to apply for Venture for America?

A while back, an old friend and I were catching up over food – eventually the conversation took a turn to “plans after college.” He mentioned Venture for America, and we started talking about working in start ups and what that would entail. At the time, I hadn’t thought much about entrepreneurship and I thought, “could be interesting… maybe not my thing.” But a seed was planted. So when I heard that Andrew Yang was making a presentation of the Venture for America Mission at Vassar, I knew that I had to be sure this wasn’t an opportunity I was going to regret missing out on. In his talk, I realized that the picture he painted of someone who pursues entrepreneurship was the image of someone I aspire to be. This person is a problem-solver, makes a positive impact on those around him, and is not afraid take a risk to help others.

What were you doing when you found out you were accepted?

It’s all kind of a haze. I was looking into kickstarters and indiegogo projects when a little notification popped up at the bottom right of my screen. I was frozen for something like five minutes, and afterwards bounced around the house and told everyone I ran in to!

Now that you’re a fellow, what are you most excited about with regard to VFA? What do you hope to accomplish?

I’m excited to meet inspiring people and to embark on a great learning experience.

If you had to live one place for the rest of your life, where would you choose?

Having grown up overseas, I’ve lived in a lot of cool cities. However, what I find most important, and the determining factor of where I would want live, is to have a good group of friends nearby.

Best thing about Vassar: It’s a tight-knit community with a crazy amount of diverse interests, which always leads to good conversations.

Favorite Book: The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff

Favorite childhood TV show: “Transformers: Beast Wars”

Favorite meal: Anything I can get my hands on.

Favorite holiday: Christmas, when my family gets together from their distant corners of the globe.

Best class you’ve ever taken: Topics in Geometry.

Favorite movie quote: “Many of these trees were my friends. Creatures I had known from nut or acorn. [...] Hroom, hm, come, my friends. The Ents are going to war. It is likely that we go to our doom. The last march of the Ents.” – Treebeard, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

Favorite thing to do on Sunday: Practice some juggling patterns and work on handstands.

Favorite entrepreneur: My Uncle, Luca Lee

Favorite cereal: Cinnamon Chex, “Chex; Anyway you Want It!”

Most worn article of clothing: My longboarding shoes have holes and holes and holes. I can’t wear them on rainy days.

Favorite sports team: Clube de Regatas do Flamengo (A soccer team from Rio de Janeiro)

Best trip you’ve ever been on: A biological research summer program in the Jiuzhaigou Valley. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Hero” with Jet Li, Jiuzhaigou was where that movie was shot!

Favorite historical figure: Charles Kettering

Accomplishment you’re most proud of: It’s a little dated, but my Eagle Scout Project was one of my most rewarding experiences. It addressed the decline of English Standards in public schools across Hong Kong, and was something that I pushed to get done in my sophomore year of high school.