Now an annual celebration on the Rutgers University Newark campus, the Rutgers School of Business held its’ Entrepreneurship Awards Ceremony and Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship Program Graduation on November 15 that recognized the entrepreneurial achievements and contributions of alumni, faculty, students and the community.
Over the course of the day’s celebration, the overseers of the university’s key entrepreneurial programs presented awards to a range of honorees. Lyneir Richardson, Executive Director of CUEED, kicked off the event and spoke about the important outcomes that had been achieved through the programs.
“This week, the entire world is celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurship,” said Richardson. “Here at Rutgers, we’re celebrating innovation, job creation, and launching new businesses that drive economic vitality.”
Richardson proudly noted that Rutgers is currently working with over 400 alumni entrepreneurs, many of whom stay involved in the New Jersey area to help grow business and capital.
Yaw Mensah, Vice Dean of the Rutgers Business School, brought the ceremony into focus by recognizing two groups: alumni and current students, both of whom prove everyday that what’s learned in the classroom can be put into practice in the real world.
The ceremony also served as the graduation for the Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship program that is run by CUEED to help students start their own businesses through online marketplaces. After receiving stories during the recession of people laid off selling products online and making a profit through Etsy, Etsy worked with Rutgers to develop a crash-course curriculum centered on running an online marketplace.
Associate Professor Jeff Robinson introduced the keynote speaker, Kerryn Krige, co-author of The Disruptors and longstanding friend of the school. A social entrepreneur, Krige started specializing in the field in 2001 when she led projects with South African and U.K. charities and also helped set up the first European radio station for the blind. Krige first interacted with Rutgers class in Johannesburg last year, and kept up with Robinson and the school ever since.
The bulk of the ceremony, however, was spent celebrating the innovative and energetic award-winners that included both entrepreneurs and those cultivating the entrepreneurial community.
Racquel Clarke, 2013 graduate and CEO of fitFUNd, received the Rutgers Alumni Social Entrepreneur Award. Her company provides hand-picked personal trainers directly to offices for group fitness classes. Keeping in mind her passion for social entrepreneurship, the profits from corporate clients help keep prices affordable for children’s fitness programs in the community.
After that, Assistant Director Alfred Blake of Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Program introduced entrepreneur and good friend Clark Lagemann for the Rutgers Alumni Entrepreneur Award.
“Clark was looking for ways to support the Rutgers community since he never had a mentor when he was in school,” said Blake. “He told me he’d be willing to give his time despite the millions of other things he’s doing.”
A mainstay in the New Jersey startup ecosystem, Lagemann is the founder and CEO of MedPro Wellness. He also founded the student and alumni entrepreneurial organization Scarlet Startups and continues to find ways to create a support system for entrepreneurs in the New Jersey ecosystem.
“It’s not about the money for Clark,” said Blake. “It’s about finding ways to give back and provide value for others.”
Managing Director of the CUEED Jasmine Cordero introduced Marcela Andrea Zuchovicki, winner of the Ellis Still EPI Alumni Award. Named after the late Ellis Still, a member of the first ever EPI class who found ways to help his classmates and impact his community, the award highlights someone who embodies that spirit of giving back.
“If you ask her for help, she’ll help you,” said Cordero. “She’s all about helping others and demonstrates it through everything she does.”
Zuchovicki manages operations for Jalima & Associates and also serves as a business coach at the NJ Small Business Development Center. She also created the EPI Alumni Board and has numerous awards under her belt, including NJ Mentor of the Year in 2013 Immigrant Entrepreneur in 2014.
Through the awards given, Rutgers highlighted some of the most dynamic and inspiring entrepreneurs in New Jersey – as well as those who support and collaborate with the local entrepreneurial community and Rutgers students and alumni.