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Student entrepreneurs selected as 2021 Kessler Fellows

The College of Engineering’s Kessler Fellows program welcomed 20 new student entrepreneurs to its latest cohort, where they will explore entrepreneurship through academic coursework, mentorship with entrepreneurs in residence and a summer internship with a successful startup of their choice.

This year, the program expanded to include Cornell juniors from all disciplines interested in entrepreneurship – it was previously limited to STEM students – bringing a myriad of academic perspectives to the 2021 Kessler Fellows cohort.

“I want to challenge myself to think outside of the box – not only of my career, but also of the value that I could bring to society,” said Anna Hu ’22, a College Scholar in the College of Arts and Sciences, and an alumni of student startup accelerator, eLab. “It’s rare to see a group of people so genuinely passionate about some ideas. I love being close to this kind of energy.”

During the spring semester students complete a one-credit entrepreneurial course and begin researching companies that match their skills and interests. Once the fellows have identified the startup where they will intern, they develop individual learning goals and conduct a business analysis, before embarking on their summer startup experience. During this phase of the program – fully funded through the generosity of Andrew J. Kessler ’80 – students receive a weekly stipend.

“Being a Kessler Fellow allows us to get hands-on experience from current entrepreneurs in ways that we otherwise wouldn’t in a more traditional internship experience,” said Chloe Elise Young ’22, who plans to attend medical school and believes the fellowship will assist her in the health care startup world. “I hope to target issues surrounding health disparities such as maternal mortality in the United States.” 

Another benefit of the program is access to a team of experienced Entrepreneurs in Residence through Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement, which provides guidance on patents, funding, branding and prototyping – all of which student entrepreneurs need in their toolkit.

The 2021 Kessler Fellows are:

  • Alex LoCicero ’22, mechanical engineering;
  • Anna Hu ’22, psychology and College Scholar;
  • Austin Stasko ’22, mechanical engineering;
  • Candice Mahadeo, ’22, applied economics and management;
  • Chendan Luo, ’22, mechanical engineering;
  • Chloe Elise Young, ’22, biology and society;
  • Cole DeMeulemeester, ’22, computer science;
  • Connor Reinhold, ’22, computer science and mathematics;
  • Emile Bouriez, ’22, mechanical engineering;
  • Emma Kranich, ’22, electrical and computer engineering;
  • Gary Wang, ’22, materials science and engineering;
  • Jackson Bauer, ’22, biomedical engineering;
  • Jueun (Jen) Yi, ’22, operations research and information engineering;
  • Maxwell Beck, ’22; ILR, information science and business;
  • Melissa Louie, ’22, chemical engineering;
  • Melody Yu, ’22, mechanical engineering;
  • Michael Grossman, ’22, urban and regional studies;
  • Payton Hunter, ‘22, mechanical engineering;
  • Rishitha Thambireddy ‘22, computer science;
  • Tiffany Chui, ’22, materials science and engineering.

Many past Kessler Fellows have completed internships with successful Cornell-affiliated startups, including Combplex, the $500,000 winner in the 2020 76West Clean Energy Competition; Dimensional Energy, a finalist in the ongoing $20 million Carbon X Prize competition; and Iterate Labs, which recently announced $1 million raised in seed funding.

“We’re very excited to welcome a new Kessler Fellows cohort to the entrepreneurship ecosystem at Cornell,” said the program’s director, Nate Cook, who also serves as a Cornell Engineering entrepreneur in residence and visiting lecturer at the SC Johnson College of Business. “We look forward to helping each fellow build a solid entrepreneurial mindset so they are able to make the most of the real-world experience they will obtain in their summer internships.”

The Kessler Fellows program is participating in this year’s Cornell Giving Day. Donations made to the program through the end of the day on March 11 will provide more students with the opportunity to complete this hands-on entrepreneurial experience.

Bridget Bright is a writer for the Center for Regional Economic Advancement. 

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