Release Date: June 19, 2017
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Twenty-five University at Buffalo students have been named WNY Prosperity Fellows for 2017-2018. The fellowships, which are made possible through support from the Prentice Family Foundation, are awarded to college and graduate students with an entrepreneurial drive who want to make a difference in Western New York.
The program assists undergraduate and graduate students at UB and Canisius College who are actively preparing for careers that further economic development and growth in the region.
Bios of each of UB’s WNY Prosperity Fellows are available below.
Each fellow is awarded $25,000 in scholarship and internship support for an academic year, based on their financial need. Including this year’s gift, the Prentice Family Foundation has invested $4.3 million in the program at UB alone.
Paid, credit-bearing internships assist fellows in acquiring both academic and practical experiences in their intended professions. Fellows are given the opportunity to intern in their chosen fields of interest, where they work alongside and are mentored by leaders in upper-level management.
“The Prosperity Fellows are among the best and the brightest students UB has to offer. With their entrepreneurial spirit and intellectual curiosity, these young men and women will be integral to Western New York’s economic future and success,” said A. Scott Weber, UB’s vice president for student life. “UB is proud to help provide them with a unique and transformational experience that connects them with leaders from the region’s nonprofit and business sectors.”
UB’s fellows also receive $1,000 through an enrichment fund to enhance their fellowship year and further support their professional and personal growth. Fellows have used this funding to support their research, attend or present at a professional conference, and pursue a second internship experience with a local organization.
Fellows also receive complimentary membership to attend meetings and trainings sponsored by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership 360 program, Emerging Business Leaders and the WNY Venture Association.
This year’s fellows began their program with an orientation in late May, where they attended speed networking sessions to get to know one another and also met with Prosperity Fellowship alumni. In addition, fellows heard presentations from leaders of Western New York nonprofit organizations, and toured Silo City with owner Rick Smith, who is also president of Rigidized Metals.
The orientation, along with the programming afforded to the fellows throughout their fellowship year, provide these future leaders with an overview of the region’s opportunities and challenges. Specifically, it allows them to understand how they might contribute their talents to impact economic development in the region, said Hadar Borden, UB’s WNY Prosperity Fellowship Program director.
“My responsibility with our fellows is to make the case for Buffalo and Western New York, while developing their leadership potential. Our region needs their drive, ambition and creativity to remain in the region,” Borden said.
“True to its name, the City of Good Neighbors and its current leaders continuously open their doors and share their time with our fellows by hosting them for a tour, discussion or joining us for our signature program, Innovate N’ Caffeinate, a casual networking opportunity for our fellows with the region’s business and thought leaders.”
Bosinski is pursuing an electrical engineering degree at UB. As a member of the Sensors and MicroActuators Learning Lab (SMALL) in the Department of Electrical Engineering, Bosinski is researching microfluidics and ultrasound for health care applications. He has been a part of the Acker Scholars program at UB, MORE House, and Science is Elementary at Westminster Charter School. Bosinski hopes to take his research to the next level and commercialize it. He plans to contribute to the growth of the growing medical device field in Western New York through innovation in his own research to create technology that could revolutionize the field.
Brown is pursuing his PharmD at UB with a focus in clinical research. He is interested in how medications can assist in the treatment of debilitating mental illnesses such as substance use disorder and depression. Over the past four years, Brown has been involved with pharmaceutical research spanning multiple sites. In addition to presenting research at state and national conferences, he has held leadership positions in numerous clubs and committees within UB’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. He is a founding member of the UB chapters of the American College of Clinical Pharmacology and the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists. His ultimate goal is to establish a nonprofit research site dedicated to investigating novel treatment options for those with severe and persistent mental illness.
Born and raised in Buffalo, Brown is a rising junior majoring in political science and computer science, with a minor in environmental design. He has a passion for public service and an interest in using technology to innovate within the public and non-profit sectors to promote civic engagement and make services more efficient and accessible. He and teammate Morgan Sansbury created WaterWatcher, a text message-based water quality data system that was a finalist in the Erie Hack competition. As an Urban Fellow in the City of Buffalo, Brown is helping implement Buffalo’s open data policy, organizing a civic hackathon, and facilitating community engagement efforts around data. In his future, Mike plans to pursue a master’s degree in public administration and looks forward to dedicating his career to serving the Buffalo community.
Buckmaster is an undergraduate in mechanical and aerospace engineering who plans to continue his studies in engineering by attending graduate school UB. He is currently a product engineer at Moog’s Commercial Aircraft Group in East Aurora, gaining experience working at an industry-leading company. Buckmaster is an Honors Scholar, as well as a teaching assistant for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ First Year Initiative. In the startup community, he works as a development engineer at 3AM Innovations out of Z80 Labs. He also works as a design consultant for UB's Blackstone LaunchPad. Although just moving to the area in 2014, he has found a true home in Western New York and plans to stay in the region to improve its economic and social outlook.
A Buffalo native, Burns is pursuing dual master’s degrees in architecture and urban planning. As a Presidential Scholar and recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, Burns graduated summa cum laude from UB with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. He has been involved with the GRoW Home – UB’s submission to the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon – which placed second in the international competition. His design and fabrication work for the On-Site Construction Robot (OSCR) team has been published in numerous journals. Additionally, he has spent time in the United Kingdom through the US-UK Fulbright Commission Summer Institutes, as well as studying in China. As a research fellow in the UB Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access, Burns has explored how design can be used to make more inclusive environments. His research on sustainable systems and inclusive design seeks to reduce housing inequity in Buffalo. Through his graduate work, Dylan hopes to develop a design model for a house that can heat itself, power itself, address storm water runoff, and reduce maintenance concerns, while also allowing residents to comfortably age in place.
As a native of Buffalo, Canty graduated with her bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from UB in May 2014. In 2014, she was awarded the Department of Biomedical Engineering Presidential Fellowship. She is currently pursuing her PhD in the UB Orthopaedics Research Laboratory, with a focus on periprosthetic joint infection. Her research is centered on voltage-controlled electrical stimulation of titanium implants for the prevention of orthopaedic infections. In June 2015, Canty presented her research at the third Stevens Conference on Bacteria-Material Interactions in Hoboken, New Jersey. In addition to spending time on research, Canty is a math tutor for local high school students, and serves as a volunteer at the Westminster Charter School for their Science is Elementary program. Following graduation, Canty intends to stay in WNY and take advantage of the flourishing medical technology community in downtown Buffalo.
A native Buffalonian, Courtney is pursuing his PhD at UB in entrepreneurship and business strategy. Courtney is the recipient of the Dean’s Award for PhD Student Research Excellence, awarded to a senior UB School of Management doctoral student who has demonstrated exceptional research and the highest potential as a scholar, based on journal publications, research awards, presentations and papers at top conferences. His research on crowdfunding’s potential to help entrepreneurs fund early-stage ventures where traditional financing is not available has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Newsday, and Crowdfund Insider. Before returning to school Courtney ran his own business for more than eight years, providing reverse logistic and remanufacturing solutions to larger retailers. He also worked at the Erie County Industrial Development Agency’s International Program, helping small businesses expand internationally. He completed a two-year professional development program and is now LeaderCORE certified at the Role Model level. He plans to pursue opportunities to start a business venture while conducting research in crowdfunding and teaching entrepreneurship.
Originally from Alfred, New York, Dewey is a rising senior working toward a bachelor’s in environmental engineering at UB. Her passion is infusing sustainability education and practice in every aspect of life, both in the academic and business worlds with the end goal of creating a more resilient and sustainable Western New York. Dewey pursues this aim through her work on campus and in the community. She works closely with many environmental organizations on campus, including UB Sustainability and Students for Sustainability Council, and is the newly elected president of UB's chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World. For her dedicated sustainability efforts on campus, she has been recognized as an Education and Leadership Fellow in Sustainability (ELFS). Off campus, Dewey has interned with the Western New York Sustainable Business Roundtable, and Triad Recycling and Energy Corp., a small solid waste management business located in Tonawanda. This summer, she plans to intern with Wendel Companies. After graduation, she intends to use her skills as an environmental engineer to implement solutions to environmental challenges in the region, while always keeping sustainability a top priority.
Eadie is a registered patent agent with the law firm of Simpson & Simpson, PLLC, and a co-founder and vice president of engineering and intellectual property at La Salle Concepts. He graduated cum laude with his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from UB and his bachelor’s in physics from Canisius College. He is currently pursuing his JD and MS in mechanical engineering at UB. His law school concentration focuses on intellectual property and startup law, and he is currently the submissions editor of the Buffalo Intellectual Property Law Journal. Additionally, as a member of UB’s Sensor and MicroActuators Learning Lab (SMALL), Eadie’s research includes the development of three-dimensional wax-based microfluidic devices using additive manufacturing techniques, and the optimization of such methods. He mentors the FIRST Robotics Team at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute and the VEX Robotics Team at Our Lady of Black Rock Elementary School. He is also working on developing a summer curriculum for elementary school children focusing on computer coding and robotics.
Born and raised in Buffalo, Gaglione is pursuing both his MBA and JD from UB. Gaglione graduated summa cum laude from UB in 2015, where he studied economics. Prior to law school, Gaglione worked for a debt collection company owned by local attorneys and entrepreneurs. The innovative spirit at this firm inspired him to become more entrepreneurial and to pursue a career working with startup businesses. Gaglione’s interests include legal advocacy, business consulting, entrepreneurship and economic development. He is dedicated to pursuing these interests in Western New York, and his career goals are to work as a corporate attorney and consultant for a variety of local businesses. Gaglione plans to use the data analytics skills he has refined in business school to provide data driven consulting advice to individuals and businesses in Western New York. He serves on the executive board for the Buffalo Intellectual Property Law Journal as an executive articles editor and is an associate of the Buffalo Law Review.
After living in Mexico for 21 years, Gonzalez is proud to call Buffalo her home. She has been a Prosperity Fellow since 2015 and expects to receive a dual degree in architecture and graphic design in spring 2018. During her time as a fellow, her commitment to strengthening the Western New York region has shaped her as a leader in the areas of architecture and economic development. Today, the impact of her work can be seen in various neighborhoods and buildings around Buffalo. Through this fellowship, she worked as an intern for the City of Buffalo’s Office of Strategic Planning where she actively contributed to the development and implementation of Buffalo's new design guidelines in the recently enacted Green Code. She has contributed to the city's progress through her involvement in the due diligence process for the administration of capital investment funds into blighted neighborhoods, and she surveyed the implementation of several of the Buffalo Billion programs. Upon graduation, Andrea will continue striving to bring positive change to WNY by pursuing a dual master’s degree in architecture (specializing in real estate development) and an MBA at UB in order to start a non-profit organization to help promote homeownership among disadvantaged families. She is a member of the Hispanic Women League of Western New York, Collegiate Leadership Institute of the Society of Women Engineers, and the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students chapter at UB.
Hall is a rising junior environmental engineering student whose decision to pursue a degree in this field was fueled by her desire to address social issues, as well as her passion to protect the environment and encourage sustainability practices. She conducts research alongside department faculty, engages in sustainability initiatives as an Education and Leadership Fellow in Sustainability, and has experience working with Blackstone LaunchPad and UB’s Office of Sustainability Office, for which she served as a student assistant for the Erie Hack competition. Hall developed the program “Inspiring Future Engineers” to instill academic confidence in middle school students. The program was launched in 2016 as a five-day workshop consisting of STEM-based activities and lessons. She plans to expand “Inspiring Future Engineers” into a city-wide initiative that offers a scholarship program and a “just girls” workshop. Her ultimate goal is to create a resilient Western New York by encouraging youth to pursue and adhere to their STEM-interests. She plans to use her degree to address social problems pertaining to the environment — guided by the belief that creating a more sustainable, environmentally resilient Western New York not only aids in the economic development of Buffalo, but creates a cleaner, safer environment for its residents.
Izzo is a Western New York native who graduated magna cum laude from UB in May 2015 with bachelor’s degrees in biomedical engineering and chemistry. He is currently pursuing his PhD in biomedical engineering at UB, specializing in 3-D printing in health care, under the advisement of Ciprian Ionita, PhD. In this capacity, he works collaboratively as a research associate at the Jacobs Institute, where he was formerly an intern. As an undergraduate, Izzo worked as a researcher in UB’s Lovell Nanomedicine Laboratory and under Renee Reynolds, MD, in his senior year to understand pediatric neurological conditions. He served as first author on one journal article and co-author on three more. He has also given presentations at five conferences, presented two webinars, and was a featured speaker at the Virtual 3D Printing in Medicine Summit. In addition to his research work, Izzo assists in the Brain Bootcamp program to teach schoolchildren about heart attack and stroke in a fun and interactive way. He was an active rower, and head coach of the St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute freshman crew program for two years.
A Grand Island native, Mendel is an Honors College student pursuing a bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering. He intends to pursue a master’s in mechanical engineering with a focus in biomechanical devices. In order to improve his understanding of business practices, Mendel also intends to earn his MBA. He is an active member of the Grand Island Fire Company, and has been certified as an interior firefighter and an emergency medical technician. While volunteering in this capacity, Mendel was able to identify many deficiencies in the current pre-hospital care system that he believes could be improved. He aims to correct the deficiencies by starting his own company that will specifically address problems that first responders face on a daily basis in order to improve the care they provide.
Mosher grew up in the Southern Tier on a family-owned and operated dairy farm. She currently resides in the City of Buffalo and is pursuing a master of urban planning degree. Mosher is specializing in community health and food systems, and her academic pursuits intersect environmental sustainability, food systems and planning and policy. Her research interests include farmer succession planning, rural local government policy and agricultural economic development with a focus on workforce development. Mosher explores these interests as a graduate research assistant in the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab, where she works on the Growing Food Connections project. She was honored in 2015 with the first UB Sustainability Leadership, Innovation, Collaboration, and Engagement (SLICE) Student Award. She has since been selected for UB’s Education and Leadership Fellows in Sustainability (ELFS) program, and received the R. Buckminster Fuller Award from the UB School of Architecture and Planning. Mosher aspires to work in the region’s rural communities, facilitating opportunities for workforce development and sustainability in the food system.
Nsengiyumva came to Buffalo from a Congolese refugee camp in Rwanda in 2010. He is a master’s degree candidate in the UB Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, having earned his BS in chemical engineering in 2016. As an undergraduate student, Nsengiyumva analyzed household products and examined their mechanical properties. He also reviewed the applications of surfactants and polymers in personal care products and drug delivery. Currently, Nsengiyumva is conducting research in the UB Laboratory for Interfaces and Self-Assembly, where his work focuses on the water-soluble polymers that are involved in the extraction of unconventional oil and gas. He is interested in polymers that can be utilized in the presence of high salinity water in order to reduce the use of fresh water. This research will prove beneficial to the environment and energy resources. He is interested in protecting the Western New York environment with a strong focus on water quality. His future plans include completing his PhD in chemical engineering and starting his own chemical company that focuses on designing and manufacturing formulated products in the Western New York area.
Okorozo graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences. He is currently enrolled in the PharmD/MBA dual degree program. Born in Queens, New York, and raised in Nigeria, Okorozo is interested in improving health care in WNY’s communities. As a CSTEP alumni, he showed dedication in creating a pathway for the less privileged and giving them the inspiration to achieve a higher education. He was a campus health educator who collaborated with Unyts to campaign on the need for organ donation. He also furthered his knowledge by conducting a Novartis-funded research project on drug delivery and its role on pancreatic cancer signaling resistance, which he presented at the CSTEP nationwide conference, and at the UB Center of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities. Currently, he works as a pharmacy intern and uses that opportunity to educate patients on their medications. Okorozo plans to start an independent pharmacy.
Rivera is pursuing a dual degree in musical theatre and business administration. After spending most of his life living in Germany as a military dependent, Rivera moved back to participate in an internship with a not-for-profit organization before the start of his college career, where he learned his deep passion for non-profit organizations, public affairs and the arts. After arriving at UB, Rivera took on many leadership positions, serving as a student leader with the Undergraduate Academies, an orientation team leader, and a resident advisor, director of student affairs for the 2015-16 academic year. Most recently, he served as president of UB’s Student Association for the 2016-17 academic year. Rivera was chosen to attend a week-long program in New York City, where he studied performance and business from successful stars and entrepreneurs within the theater and arts community. He is currently in the process of researching the arts within ethnic communities, specifically Latin America, and the resulting impact on culture. He hopes to raise awareness of the arts in WNY and beyond by expanding the knowledge and creative cohesion involved with running a not-for-profit theatre company. He hopes to create a non-profit focused on teaching business to the arts community in WNY.
Sans was born in Chicago and raised in Williamsville. She will begin her MBA studies at UB this fall. She attended Canisius College for her undergraduate studies, receiving a dual degree in animal behavior, ecology, conservation, and psychology, with a minor in anthrozoology in 2013. Her synchronized swimming team ranked third nationally, and she was hundredths of a point away from attending U.S. Olympic trials for her duet in 2011. As a soloist, she ranked 12th nationally in 2012. She became a co-captain and team manager during her senior year in 2013. Sans was also a member of the Canisius College Marine Mammal Research Team and became president of the Canisius Zoological Society in 2013. In the years following graduation, she moved on to become a full-time marine mammal trainer. She has firsthand experience working with killer whales, beluga whales, dolphins, walrus, seals and sea lions. She has lived in California, Canada and Dubai, following her dreams working with and learning from incredible animals and people. Sans has been working with dogs since returning home and one day looks to own her own canine training facility. As an up-and coming-entrepreneur, she hopes to spread successful, positive and scientifically-based training techniques and make a difference in both the human and canine population across Western New York.
Schneider is co-founder, president and chief technology officer of La Salle Concepts. He graduated cum laude with his BS in electrical engineering and is currently pursuing his MS and PhD in electrical engineering at UB. As a member of the university’s Sensor and MicroActuators Learning Lab, Schneider’s current research includes the development of new health care-related wearable technologies for point-of-care applications, the use of biometric technologies in the mobile consumer market, and the creation of state-of-the-art test phantoms for medical sensor testing and validation. Schneider has a true passion for bringing STEM to the local community. He is the founder of Project FIS, an ongoing effort to inspire and motivate underrepresented students in STEM through hands-on, high energy, interactive science experiments. In addition, he mentors a FIRST Robotics team at Saint Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, and is part of the Westminster Charter School initiative, where he teaches science classes to kindergarten through second-grade students. He aspires to be a successful business owner, bridging his backgrounds in science and technology with his business acumen to directly contribute to the region’s economic resurgence.
A native of Rochester, New York, Sorce graduated from UB with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in biology in May 2017. He is enrolled in the School of Dental Medicine and the School of Management combined DDS/MBA program. As an active member of the UB Pre-Dental Association, Sorce regularly volunteers in the community and at the dental school, helping those in need while promoting public health and well-being. Through his involvement with Blackstone LaunchPad, he has uncovered his entrepreneurial spirit and built upon his networking abilities. After graduate school, he plans on opening a proprietary style dental practice in the Buffalo area to fulfill many unmet opportunities in the health care industry. As an entrepreneur, Sorce says there is nothing more rewarding and fulfilling than being able to create jobs and give back to those in need. In his free time, he likes to go on hikes with his dog, read books on philosophy, and spend time out by the water.
Sullivan, a Buffalo native, is majoring in business administration and economics with a concentration in finance and a minor in music performance. He is also an Honors Scholar and a Provost Scholar. He hopes to pursue a master’s degree and a financial law degree after completing his undergraduate studies. Sullivan is passionate about service to the Buffalo community, and has volunteered with more than a dozen Buffalo community organizations and university student events. He is the outreach and marketing assistant for the UB Office of Student Engagement. He is extremely interested in the development of the Western New York economy through improved public education and community service programming as a way to halt the cycle of poverty and lessen the wealth gap. Sullivan hopes to work as an economic analyst or financial lawyer for a not-for-profit, service-based company after completing his schooling.
Sweeney is a student in UB’s master of urban and regional planning (MUP) program with a concentration in community health and food systems. She is a member of the American Planning Association. A native of Geneseo, New York, Sweeney also works as a research assistant in the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab and the Community of Excellence for Global Health Equity (CGHE). She earned her bachelor’s in community development from Allegheny College in 2010, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Her work prior to starting the MUP program was focused on rural community development through access to and education around local and affordable food in northwestern Pennsylvania and central Maine. She spent the last six years managing an intergenerational community garden, developing regional support for low-income shoppers at farmers markets, and integrating nutrition curriculum into programs for youth. In addition to her programmatic work, Sweeney served on several nonprofit boards, and was part of the Sustainable Food Systems Leadership Institute in Maine. Since moving back to the region in August 2016, Sweeney has volunteered with the Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP), and plays roller derby with the Queen City Roller Girls league. Sweeney hopes to launch a leadership hub that helps youth and adults develop creative solutions for economic development in the region’s rural communities.
Vazquez, of Long Island, New York, is a second-year Prosperity Fellowship candidate. During her year as a fellow, Vazquez began her graduate career as a dual MBA/MPH candidate in UB’s School of Management and School of Public Health and Health Professions. Vazquez has been affiliated with the Food Systems and Healthy Communities Lab since her senior year of undergraduate school. She remains involved with the research group, serving as its lead social media liaison. Vazquez was a co-author of the “Buffalo-Niagara Food Report,” evaluating the Massachusetts Avenue Project’s new Mobile Market Program that focuses on bringing fresh produce to food insecure neighborhoods. During her first year in UB's MBA program, Vazquez and her team placed second among 27 teams in Key Bank’s national Minority Case Competition in Cleveland, Ohio. Utilizing funding from the Prosperity Enrichment Fund, Vazquez attended the United Nations Global Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador, where leaders from around the world gathered to discuss plans and initiatives to create more sustainable and equitable cities in developing countries. Starting this summer, she will begin her year-long fellowship with Roswell Park Cancer Institute as a Health Care Management Fellow. She is also the program assistant for the UB School of Management’s inaugural global leadership study abroad program in Ghana, Africa — the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurial Leadership Program (SIEL) will launch in winter 2018. Vazquez aspires to be a hospital CEO.
Zhou is a first-generation Chinese immigrant who is pursuing both her MBA and doctor of medicine degrees from UB. Previously, Zhou completed doctoral training in biochemistry with a focus on developmental genomics at the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, where she witnessed the ongoing transformation of downtown Buffalo. Zhou received her bachelor’s degree in nutrition with a focus on public health nutrition from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and completed internships at a local hospital, the CDC, and FDA prior to coming to Buffalo in 2008. Since beginning medical school, Zhou has been actively involved in the local community, from participating in various community events to co-steering a community initiative in the Fruit Belt neighborhood. Her experience working with Dr. Nathan Congdon, an internationally renowned preventive ophthalmology researcher, inspired her to seek solutions to improve equitable eye care and blindness prevention locally and globally. She hopes to establish a Western New York-based not-for-profit organization addressing eye care disparity and promoting equitable eye care regionally and possibly worldwide. Zhou serves as the co-president for Sprouts, a local community initiative that uses gardening to spread healthy eating habits among students and kids in underserved neighborhoods.