Meet the Baker Institute's LehighSiliconValley 2022 Cohort
Updated: Jan 6
As the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity & Innovation prepares for it's eleventh annual LehighSiliconValley winter term immersion program in January 2022, we are excited to announce the new cohort of Lehigh University students who will be immersed in the Silicon Valley ecosystem soon! Read their stories below....
Kelley Allen '25G - Somerville, NJ
FLEX MBA with a concentration in Corporate Entrepreneurship
"Yes, and . . ." - The #1 rule I was taught in Improv class. Over the years, "Yes, and" has led me to many surprising places including a fascinating career, a life of purpose, and to many roads less traveled (including recently winning a trip to Antarctica!) Earlier this year, despite my twenty-year career in book publishing, I started Lehigh"s Flex MBA program and found myself exhilarated, especially when taking part in real life case studies with the potential to solve real problems. When the opportunity for LSV presented itself, I immediately said "Yes, and . . ."
Ilias Chekkori '24 - Rabat, Morocco
Major: Computer Science and Engineering
Minor: Electrical Engineering
Born on the sunny shore of Morocco, mint tea and hospitality course through my veins. My background as a surfer has strengthened my adaptive and open-minded view of life. Getting slammed by waves every day of my life has made me resilient, focused, and driven, although I may have gotten a couple of concussions along the road. I love to cook for others, a trait that I inherited from the Moroccan tradition of always welcoming hungry visitors. Sharing a home-cooked meal is my way of sharing a part of who I am and learning more about others.
Adam Cheng '23 - China & Malaysia
Born in Malaysia and raised in China, shifting between cultures and ideas has always been a part of my life. Ever since high school, I experienced the world from various angles to become a global citizen. After a month in Switzerland, I truly realize that people are more similar than different. From volunteering at a wildlife center in Thailand to tutoring at Lehigh, I became increasingly passionate about interacting with different people. Deciding on my major in Finance is mainly due to its demand for social skills as well as a fast-paced understanding of new information. LSV will be a perfect opportunity for me to integrate my ideas into a well-diversified team and this immersive program designed to solve real-world problems.
Victor Cochrane '22 - Long Valley, NJ
Minor: Political science, Psychology, Business Information Systems
Coming from a large family, it was hard to grab attention at times. Therefore, my sisters and I developed very distinct personalities. But one trait that is common among all of us is hard work. Having the opportunity to immerse oneself in the entrepreneurial culture is not one that comes often but when it does, it easily grabs our attention and challenges us to be our creative selves. I love finding ways to creatively solve persistent problems, whether it be through the Student Senate or an academic context, and I am grateful to be able to learn more through LSV.
Jack Curtis '22
Major: Computer Science, Psychology
While studying psychology and computer science I've discovered that when combined, they solve a pertinent issue. To know what can be done using a computer and the internet requires a reasonable amount of knowledge about how both function. By pairing this knowledge with psychology, I've learned not only how to translate the breadth of possibilities with computers to a layperson, but also how to help individuals turn their ideas into software. I'm currently writing all the code for a startup of one such idea, but I plan to bring this skill to Silicon Valley where I'm confident it will grow.
Breanne Davis '23 - Allendale, NJ
I have always thrived on competition whether it's who gets down the stairs for dinner quicker or travels the farthest or skis down the mountain the fastest. In those ways I am a risk taker and always willing to put myself in a situation that is uncomfortable or unfamiliar. I also pride myself on having compassion for people less fortunate so when others are suffering I try to relieve their burdens and help them rise up which actually lifts me to a better place. I love to compete but also help others and that's where I thrive!
Victoria Drzymala '23 - Garfield, NJ
Major: Political Science and International Relations
Wherever I go, I bring a fundamental sense of justice. As a student, I've decided to concentrate my studies in the field of politics and government, in the hope that I will soon be able to join our leaders in the creation of fair policies and equal opportunity. I've worked in local and state government since I was sixteen years old, and I'm ready to expand my skillset into a different sector. I'm excited to explore the field of entrepreneurship and learn about what it takes to build a personal brand that is focused on innovative solutions, diversity and inclusion, and sustainable collaboration.
Max Fern '22 - Greenwich, CT
Minor: Economics and Environmental Studies
I grew up in a Jewish home: we kept kosher, enjoyed Sabbath meals together, and celebrated the Jewish holidays. In my younger years, it wasn't always easy to be surrounded by rules and traditions. However, one ideal not only stuck with me but has since defined the way I've approached choosing a career: Tikkun Olam. Hebrew for "repairing the world," Tikkun Olam is the notion that each person has a responsibility to leave this place better than they found it. I am passionate about projects that demonstrate my values and look forward to doing work that builds value for others.
Carly Friend '22 - Colts Neck, NJ
Minor: Fine Arts
I'm an artist in every form of the word, even in ways that I haven't fully discovered about myself. My passion for creating the unimagined carries me through everyday life. I'm in constant pursuit of the greater truth in life and trying to put meaning behind my experiences. I study a myriad of subjects in art, architecture, design, music, environmental science, and engineering to develop a comprehensive plan for how I will impact the world. Spending time with people at LSV with like mindsets will fully engage my innovative ideas. I'm very grateful for this opportunity.
Ava Gellis '23 - Port Washington, NY
Major: Business Information Systems with certificate in Business Analytics
As a creative and business-minded student, I developed an interest in the intersection of information technology and entrepreneurship with a specific passion for sustainable innovation. I am at my best when collaborating with others by sharing my analytical and meticulous ideas. I flourish in environments where I can build off of others and hear differing perspectives and ideas. To reach my potential as an effective leader and integrate it with innovative information technology, I am pursuing a major in Business Information Systems and a minor in Management.
Justin Gelwicks '23- White Plains, NY
Minor: Real Estate, Architecture
I believe that skill specialization is both essential to massive achievement and the greatest cause of stifled opportunities. As a product-based business owner, I have fallen deeply in love with sales - the psychological understanding of individual customers, the subtle mannerisms and denotations of words that close the sale. I see it as an art. However, this does not mean that I have neglected my obsession with the technical understanding of manufacturing and engineering. I believe that the duality of these two passions allows me to see many aspects of the supply chain and thus see opportunities all around me.
Sam Gritton '23 - Louisville, KY
I joined this program for the same reason I get out of bed every morning: to be free. Raised in Louisville, Kentucky by loving but strict parents, I knew early on that the thing I value most is personal freedom. Freedom to me means a number of different things such as freedom financially, freedom of time, and freedom of thought. In Silicon Valley, I hope to learn more about how to achieve this freedom in my personal life and how to bring this freedom to others, as well as learn how to grow my startup Aromapen.
Bridget Hall '22- Nutley, NJ
Minor: Graphic Design
I come from a large extended family. My dad has eleven siblings and my mom has four siblings. I have two dozen aunts and uncles and forty-four first cousins. We are a close-knit family that spends a lot of time together. Although there may be disagreements at times due to such diverse views and personalities, we stick together through thick and thin. We support one another through all of life's obstacles and are always there to celebrate each other's accomplishments. Having a large extended family has taught me to surround myself with supportive and loving people.
Drew Jasper '24 - Orinda, CA
Minor: Entrepreneurship and Film
For me, life is all about experiences and the relationships you build along the way. I love stepping outside of my comfort zone, trying new things, and challenging myself. Last year, I spent a semester living and working in Maui. The experience reinforced the notion that I can do anything I set my mind to. I hope to start my own business one day, and I plan on learning as much about the world as possible before that day comes. Furthermore, I live for outdoor activities including, but not limited to: rock climbing, hiking, biking, swimming, skydiving, and kayaking.
Dave Jha '22 - Manhattan Beach, CA
Major: Computer Science & Business
I fell for music from the beginning. Literally. As my parents tell the story, "Back in the U.S.S.R." by the Beatles came on the radio, and I started bouncing to the beat in front of my parents and my dad's boss, only to then fall. As a jazz pianist in college, music still inspires me. Jazz is wonderful in that it is technical - there is a pulse that does not deviate - but creative: solos are opportunities to express life. I see entrepreneurship in the same way, and I still fall. But the fun is the journey, not the destination.
Khadija Khan '24 - Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Major: Chemical Engineering
Raised speaking English, Urdu and Arabic. Attended a Filipino school. Adapting to new things is my second nature. Staying in stagnant situations makes me uneasy now. I like placing myself in challenging circumstances that force me to adapt and explore.
Maximilian Machado '22 - Miami, FL
Major: Computer Science Engineering (CSE)
Minor: Entrepreneurship & Data Science
Growing up as Cuban-American in the large city of Miami, Florida, has taught me to respect the world around me and to take nothing for granted. Over the past 3 years, I have had the luxury to gain experience working at startups as well as make friends with like-minded forward thinkers. These opportunities have enabled me to take the skills I have learned from my fellow entrepreneurs and create an impact on the world around me. That impact might be developing haircare tech or building student planners for stressed undergrads. Either way, I am proud of the work I have contributed and look forward to taking my knowledge into the next stage of my life in hopes that I may leave each environment in a better place than when I arrived.
Jan Maciejewski '22 - Clifton, NJ
Minor: CSE, Business Analytics Certificate
North Jersey Native, gritty, and lover of hard work. I love football, weightlifting, and traveling. Raised by two incredibly hardworking parents and blessed with two older sisters and one younger brother who I appreciate very much for all their support. I like to think that my mindset is my greatest asset and nothing will ever break me. No matter what comes my way, I am willing to face it head on and live every day like it's my last. I am excited to work with LSV and hope to bring a lot to the table while learning even more.
Cassie Marte '23 - Collegeville, PA
I have always had a passion, love, and appreciation for creative thinking. Growing up being heavily involved in competitive sports, it has been particularly exciting to leverage my collaborative and problem solving skills towards my career aspirations. I hope to someday work for an authentic company that values sustainability and works towards creating a better life. When I start a new project I can't help but dive headfirst.
Anousha Mehta '24 - Marlboro, NJ
Major: Computer Science and Business
I am a person driven by my passions. Since I was little and mesmerized by the show Shark Tank, I've had a keen interest in business, which I see as the mechanism by which society marshals its resources and imagination to solve pressing needs. I'm also immersed in computer-science, which enables me to be at the forefront of change. Did I also mention my penchant for painting? My identity revolves around creativity and the innovation that surrounds me in which I learn about the integration of business, technology, and art. I'm eager to expand my experiences into Silicon Valley and find my own business vision.
Christie Ortega '23 - Newark, NJ
Major: Material Science and Engineering
What started as a quick run to CVS to purchase a notebook ended up becoming the beginning of a new chapter in my life: a mom of over 35 fussy plants. When I see my succulents producing babies out of nowhere, it always reminds me to expect the unexpected and to be patient in life because around the corner could be a life-changing event. My plants have also taught me creative problem-solving approaches, such as using toothpicks to provide growing support. Despite the occasional dramatic succulents, my plants have shown me I love to take risks and explore new possibilities.
Jack Schnall '22 - Closter, NJ
Major: Finance and Accounting
I have always been very mathematical and detail oriented, so I began my time at Lehigh by discovering how to turn my greatest strength into a career. However, I believe an open-mind and dynamic attitude can be essential qualities to personal growth and holistic development. In the last few years, I have honed in on my golf game, joined Toastmasters, critically studied films, and worked as a part of an entrepreneurial venture. I am eager to learn from the unique, intellectually curious ecosystem that is Silicon Valley while also utilizing this opportunity to share my own innovative perspective.
Kunj Shah '24 - East Patchogue, NY
I was brought up in a household where thinking outside the box was shunned and sticking to the norms was concrete. My deviation from this mentality is what made me the person I am today. Being able to expand my horizons outside of the constraints I was raised within has made me truly realize the power that mentality holds in shaping who you are as a person. Being granted the opportunity to attend LSV will only amplify my mentality and shape it to form a better me. I'm beyond ecstatic to see what new lens I'll view the world with.
Neel Surya '23 - Nazareth, PA
Gaining Perspective has been an important anchor throughout my life. By talking to new people, engaging in riveting experiences, or even trying diverse foods I always look to broaden my perspective both professionally and personally. This mindset encouraged me to pursue an interdisciplinary education by taking classes both in engineering and the liberal arts. Having the opportunity to study two vastly different fields sparked a distinct interest in the intersection of law and technology. I look forward to being a part of the collaborative nature of LSV to continue to improve my own perspective.
Thuy Anh "Twee" Tran '21 - Hanoi, Vietnam
Major: Business Information Systems, Marketing
Minor: Chinese, Business Analytics Certificate
I was born and raised in a beautiful 1000-year-old city named Hanoi, Vietnam. Until one day I decided to break away from everything I knew and moved to a new country far away from my home, the United States. It may sound like the plot of the next Netflix series, but it is actually my life. Since then, I have always seized any opportunities to live in different cities around the world from Shanghai to London. I am lucky to meet with so many people, and I've been fascinated by their stories, their life lessons, and their kindness. Experiences that I have gained along the way helps me to enrich my creative writing journey. But I also enjoy sitting for hours coding and analyzing data. One thing that I have recently learned is that I am a multifaceted person who enjoys creative writing and coding, who loves Hip-hop dancing and meditation, who loves to be the center of attention but also enjoys a night by myself.
Dannah VanPraagh '23 - Oradell, NJ
Major: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Growing up with an entrepreneur as a father, I've seen failure, successes, and perseverance. I have combined that form of creativity with my mother's more physical artistic side throughout all of my childhood into my current daily routine. After beginning my time at Lehigh as a Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering major, I wanted to expand my realm of knowledge and experiences by beginning entrepreneurial studies while maximizing my campus involvement. Through being an Orientation Leader and Coordinator, a Tour Guide, Apparel Chair for my Greek Organization, creating a new course at Lehigh, and participating in research, I have transformed myself with new experiences, people, passion, and confidence. Going into Lehigh Silicon Valley I am excited to develop myself even more, taking these experiences throughout the rest of my college experience and beyond.
Nicholas Wilson '22 - Glen Ridge, NJ
Major: Architecture, and Product Design
Formulas have never been my strong suit. Luckily for me, solutions to human-centered problems, the cornerstone of entrepreneurship, are never formulaic. Through my endeavors in entrepreneurship at Lehigh, I've learned how to translate my empathy, creativity, adaptability, and leadership into impact, and in doing so discovered a passion for this sort of work. The work I find most fulfilling is that which affects change, large or small. Whether it's making someone else's commute a little less unbearable or helping an entire population access electricity, affecting positive change in the lives of others is something I find incredibly motivating.
In Case You Missed It...
On Monday, December 6, 2021, our LSV2022 cohort of 27 students joined Baker Institute Executive Director, Lisa Getzler and Innovator in Residence, Chris Kauzmann at Factory LLC to kick-off the program with introductions, a program overview, and their first projects as teams.
The students heard from special guest experts and took on their first live case experience with Popcorn Heirloom Snacks!
See photos from our LSV2022 kick-off here...