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Two Iona College Students Named University Innovation Fellows by Stanford University

Entrepreneurship

Dr. Darrell P. Wheeler,  Aishani Nalla ’23MS, Leah Figueroa ’23 and Lendynette Pacheco-Jorge at the pinning ceremony.

Left to right: Darrell P. Wheeler, Ph.D., MPH, ACSW, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, Aishani Nalla ’23MA, Leah Figueroa ’23 and Lendynette Pacheco-Jorge, assistant director for Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Dr. Darrell P. Wheeler,  Aishani Nalla ’23MS, Leah Figueroa ’23 and Lendynette Pacheco-Jorge at the pinning ceremony.

Left to right: Darrell P. Wheeler, Ph.D., MPH, ACSW, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, Aishani Nalla ’23MA, Leah Figueroa ’23 and Lendynette Pacheco-Jorge, assistant director for Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — Two Iona College students have been named University Innovation Fellows by Stanford University, a prestigious opportunity that empowers students to become agents of change at their schools.

Congratulations to this year’s Fellows:  

  • Leah Figueroa ’23, Marketing
  • Aishani Nalla ’23MS, Occupational Therapy

The program is run by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school). This is the fourth year in a row that Iona students – through the Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation – have been selected to participate.

Fellows are nominated by faculty and administrators and selected through an application process. In all, 251 students from 65 higher education institutions in 15 countries were named this year.

Following acceptance into the program, students participate in a six-week online training experience. During training, students learn to analyze their campus ecosystems and identify opportunities for change related to innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and creativity. They then apply this knowledge to design new educational opportunities for their peers and serve as change agents on campus and beyond.

“I'm extremely proud to be a part of the University Fellows Program at Iona,” said Figueroa. “I learned key skills that made me into the leader I am today and gained an extended community. I am excited for the positive impact the other fellows and I are creating and I’m happy to share what we’ve been working on!”

This year, Iona’s Fellows set out to bridge the gap between undergraduate and graduate students. After meeting with key College stakeholders, including vice president of Marketing & Communications, Mary Clare Reilley, the students proposed creating an online events portal to increase awareness of all the student activities and events on campus.

“I am very lucky to be a part of this organization and I’m so proud of Leah and myself for making a change already with the events tab on our main portal,” said Nalla. “I look forward to collaborating with my team further and making our campus even better.” 

The system has already gone live on the Iona student portal, creating a better sense of belonging and involvement among students.

“On behalf of everyone at the Hynes Institute, we are so proud of Leah and Aishani. Not only did they identify a key campus need, but they utilized existing campus resources to create an effective solution that was able to be implemented quickly on behalf of their peers as well as the institution,” said Christoph Winkler, Ph.D., endowed professor and founding program director of the Hynes Institute. “This kind of creative problem solving by our students is exemplary of an entrepreneurial mindset in practice, a central pillar of the programs at the Hynes Institute.”

About the University Innovation Fellows program:
The University Innovation Fellows program empowers students to become agents of change at their schools. The Fellows are a global community of young leaders working to ensure that all students gain the necessary attitudes, skills and knowledge required to compete in the economy of the future. Fellows create new opportunities that help their peers develop an entrepreneurial mindset, build creative confidence, seize opportunities, define problems and address global challenges. They are creating student innovation spaces, founding entrepreneurship organizations, hosting experiential events, and working with faculty and administrators to develop courses. They serve as advocates for lasting institutional change with academic leaders and represent their schools at national events. The University Innovation Fellows is a program of Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school). Learn more at universityinnovationfellows.org.

ABOUT IONA
Founded in 1940, Iona College is a master's-granting private, Catholic, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. Iona's 45-acre New Rochelle campus and 28-acre Bronxville campus are just 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. With a total enrollment of nearly 4,000 students and an alumni base of over 50,000 around the world, Iona is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona is highly accredited, offering undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science, and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs. Iona’s LaPenta School of Business is accredited by AACSB International, a prestigious recognition awarded to just five percent of business schools worldwide. The Princeton Review recognized Iona’s on-campus MBA program as a “Best Business School for 2021.” Iona College also recently launched a new, fully online MBA program for even greater flexibility. In July 2021, Iona College and NewYork-Presbyterian announced the establishment of the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences, to be principally located on the College’s new campus at 171 White Plains Road, Bronxville, N.Y. Supported by a $20 million gift from NewYork-Presbyterian, the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences is expected to offer a new vision for collaborative health care education, modern workforce development, and community care.