My View from South Hill
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
The 2011-2012 school year comes to an end this Sunday with a commencement at which approximately 1600 students will receive their degrees. Looking back over the nine months of this academic year, I am reminded that are six thousand stories in the IC student body. Here are four of them.
Freshman Noreyana Fernando won a 2012 South Asian Journalists Association Student scholarship that provides a summer internship in Washington, D.C. There are just five of these awards given each year, and the others went to students from Harvard, Brown, UCLA and the British Columbia Institute of Technology. How did Noreyana come to the attention of the award committee? During her freshman year Noreyana wrote for the Ithacan (recently named the best weekly college newspaper in the country), reported news on ICTV, and served as assistant news director at our radio station WICB. "Hands on from day 1" is part of our teaching philosophy, and Noreyana has taken full advantage of that approach. Others have noticed.
Sophomore Shanshan Mei won the 2012 Ithaca College Business Idea Competition with a portable screen cleaner for laptops and other mobile electronic devices. The genesis and development of her idea illustrates the ability of successful entrepreneurs to take an everyday moment (“My screen is dusty!”) and turn it into a product idea. Generally, though, the first iteration of the idea is not the end of the process. After designing a simple and functional screen wiper, Shanshan learned that a similar product is already manufactured in Japan though it is not yet marketed in the US. She then realized that she could reach a completely different market segment by incorporating elegant design. Her goal was to get people attracted first by the look of her screen wiper, and then be struck by how useful it is. Shanshan continued her business development work since winning the award for her concept. She has made prototypes of the product, talked with potential manufacturers/suppliers, talked with store owners to get their assessments of how the product would sell, and gotten herself incorporated. Look for an elegant screen dust remover – to be called the Mei – in your local stores soon!
Junior Adam Bienstock is a former member of the Ithaca College football team who took part in a team initiative to organize a bone marrow registry drive in the spring of 2011. This involves swabbing saliva to obtain DNA information that will then be stored to help find a good match for someone needing a bone marrow transplant. It is vital to have as many people as possible in the registry since the odds of a match are 1 in 60,000 for Caucasians and just 1 in one million for members of minority groups. Over 200 people took part in the football team’s initiative. Despite the long odds, last fall Adam turned up as a match for a fifty year old man with leukemia. Adam then underwent a seven hour operation to donate the marrow that saved a life.
Senior Seth Ecker has received a lot of attention on the IC campus and beyond as three time All American and two time NCAA national champion in wrestling. He won his second national title this spring in dominant form, with a 8-0 major decision over his opponent in the final. The rest of the story – less often told – is that Seth has compiled a 3.84 GPA in Finance, his major field within the School of Business. He is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honors society in business education, as well as the honors society for Ithaca College as a whole.
These four students, one from each undergraduate class year at IC, illustrate some of the core commitments and emphases within an IC education. Noreyana Fernando ’15 shows us how a hands on education accelerates student learning and accomplishment, even for a first year college student. Shanshan Mei ’14, demonstrates the value of asking how something can be done more effectively, and then carrying through from concept to business plan to product. Adam Bienstock ‘13 doesn’t even think of his gift of life as a sacrifice, but instead as a natural thing that people do for each other. And Senior Seth Ecker’s record of athletic and academic accomplishment illustrates the student athlete ideal as well as demonstrating the results of sustained commitment to excellence.
Every student on the Ithaca College campus is writing their own story. These four students illustrate the enormous well of talent and commitment that should give us great confidence in the future.