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Plumpy’nut is a peanut butter paste fortified with vitamins. Because it can reverse the ravages of malnutrition in as few as two weeks, Doctors Without Borders dubbed the lifesaving concoction "a revolution in nutritional affairs." Integrated marketing communications major Elizabeth Stoltz ’13 first read about Plumpy’nut in high school.
"I'd been disheartened about the tragic effects of childhood malnutrition in Africa and was stunned that such an easy solution existed," she said. "I wanted be part of that solution."
So she organized a 5K walk that raised $5,000 to support Plumpy’nut distribution in Ethiopia. Inspired by that success, Elizabeth established Food for Thought, a nonprofit that was initially dedicated to raising money for more Plumpy’nut deliveries. After doing summer relief work in Ethiopia, Elizabeth arrived at IC and founded a student chapter of Food for Thought. The college provided fertile ground for her organization.
"Being a Park scholar, I was surrounded by students who shared my commitment to improving the lives of others," says Elizabeth, referring to a scholarship program at IC that couples academic achievement with community service. "As a freshman, I was already implementing classroom lessons in marketing and public relations to make a social impact."
That impact has broadened.
"Every week, students pitch causes they feel Food for Thought can advance," she said. "Besides two local Plumpy’nut walks, which raised our total support to $20,000, Food for Thought has supported orphanages in Russia, Peru, and Nicaragua. We also organized a cupcake sale that raised $1,600, the cost of a one-year scholarship for a student at a school in India. Starting with five people on the executive board, Food for Thought now has a full house at rush nights."
Elizabeth’s relief efforts have garnered national recognition. As her junior year draws to a close, she is one of 162 American college students to be named a 2012 Newman Civic Fellow. Bestowed by Campus Compact, a coalition of college and university presidents, the award honors undergraduates who engage their fellow students in civic and social responsibilities.
Ironically, as word spreads about Elizabeth’s leadership ability, she feels it’s time, with her senior year approaching, to step down as president of Food for Thought and make way for younger leadership—the first transition, she hopes, of many.
"After I graduate, I’ll be looking at bigger PR firms in Washington, D.C., as good places to integrate relief work with public relations skills,” she said. “But wherever I go, Plumpy’nut and Food for Thought will be in my blood. In 15 years, I want to come back and be blown away by how far IC students have taken the organization."
>> More on this story: Student Organizations at IC
Tim Reynolds developed shoulder pain while playing baseball in high school. After several weeks of physical therapy, he was finally pain-free.
“I realized I wanted to help others the way that therapist helped me,” Tim said. “When I heard about the reputation of IC’s physical therapy program, I wanted to go there.”
Tim received his bachelor’s in clinical health studies in 2012 and then entered IC’s two-year doctorate of physical therapy program, gaining clinical experience as well as academic honors—including an award recognizing him as one of the country’s top undergraduates in an allied health field.
Tim expected that IC would offer him opportunities to gain knowledge and experience in physical therapy. What he didn’t expect was that IC would offer him the chance to become a businessman. After taking a course in neuromuscular control, Tim saw a way to transform a standard dumbbell into a kettlebell.
“Kettlebells are spherical weights with a curved handle to accommodate a two-handed grip,” Tim said. “They combine strength, cardio, and flexibility training into a single workout. But an entire set costs hundreds of dollars and takes up a lot of floor space.”
With the help of two faculty members, Tim and a friend designed a clasp with a handle shaped like a subway strap. Securing the clasp around a dumbbell bar of any weight transforms it into a kettlebell. After dubbing the device a KettleShell, Tim needed to market it. Ithaca’s School of Business showed him how.
“I took classes on developing business plans and then pitched KettleShell at the New York State Business Plan Competition, which attracted over 430 entries. KettleShell took third place in the products and services category and $1,500 in prize money. Naturally I was encouraged.”
Tim is currently testing a prototype of his product at five colleges across the country and hopes to have KettleShells in production by the end of 2013—just five months before he completes his graduate program in physical therapy.
“I never considered becoming an entrepreneur, but once you get passionate about an idea, it’s a remarkable feeling. Being able to take courses in the business school shows how IC provides its students with unexpected opportunities. I’m a CEO and I’m still in college.”
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