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2022 Kessler Fellows reflect diversity of disciplines

Cornell University’s Kessler Fellows program is excited to welcome 15 new student entrepreneurs to the 2022 fellowship cohort. Through their participation in the program, students receive classroom knowledge on the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, and go on to spend the summer gaining hands-on experience at a startup internship.

Housed in the College of Engineering, the Kessler Fellows program is open to undergraduate Cornell students in their junior year. At its founding in 2009, the fellowship was open exclusively to STEM students, but pivoted in 2021 to allow entrepreneurially-minded students of all disciplines to participate.

“I hope to learn how to be a leader and pioneer in healthcare, and be inspired by a cohort of change-makers and trailblazers in their own respective fields,” said Elizabeth Madamidola ’23, who hopes to use startup ventures to aid in redesigning the United States healthcare system. “After the fellowship, I hope to gain more insight on how to work toward a more sustainable and equitable healthcare delivery system.”

The selected fellows enroll in a one-credit spring semester course where they begin to learn about entrepreneurship, research startups that interest them, and develop personal learning goals. They then spend ten weeks over the summer at a startup aligned with their passions and skills. Funded through the generosity of Andrew Kessler ’80, the fellows receive a weekly stipend throughout the summer to allow them to focus full-time on their internship.

“The most exciting thing to me about the Kessler Fellowship is the community,” said Somil Aggarwal ’22, a computer science student with a passion for finding tech solutions to challenges in the agriculture industry. “Even though entrepreneurship is often a rigorous solo endeavor, being a Kessler Fellow means you are automatically a part of a community striving to accomplish the same goals, and that community is what I hope transcends this program.”

The 2022 Kessler Fellows are:

  • ​​Ave Kludze ’23, biomedical engineering;
  • Dawn Zee ’23, human development;
  • Elizabeth Madamidola ’23, global and public health sciences;
  • George Quinn ’23, physics;
  • Jacob Ritter ’23, communication;
  • Jordan Roth ’23, food science;
  • Kendall Hoffman ’23, information science, and environment and sustainability;
  • Max Clouser ’23, hotel administration and computer science;
  • Michael Hansan ’23, industrial and labor relations;
  • Minjung Kwon ’23, electrical and computer engineering;
  • Phillip Teixeira DaSilva ’23, food science, and applied economics and management;
  • Sanna Vedrine ’23, chemical engineering;
  • Somil Aggarwal ’22, computer science;
  • Tewodros Mitiku ’23, computer science;
  • Yunhan Chen ’23, hotel administration.

Students in the program also gain access to personalized mentorship from Entrepreneurs in Residence at Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement. These experienced entrepreneurial leaders have successfully launched and grown startups of their own, and are eager to pass on their knowledge and lessons learned to student entrepreneurs.

“Working side-by-side with experienced entrepreneurs and business leaders, the Kessler Fellows learn valuable skills and gain perspective on what it means to found and run a startup,” said Alex Hagen, MBA ’03 and director of the Kessler Fellows program. “We are thrilled to work with such fantastic students and provide them the opportunity for a unique summer learning experience.”

The Kessler Fellow program, which has supported more than 150 student entrepreneurs to date, will be accepting donations on Cornell Giving Day 2022. On March 16, the community will have the opportunity to make a gift to the Kessler Fellows program to support the enriching hands-on internship experience of current and future Cornell student entrepreneurs.

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