The Rutgers University Student Executive (RUSE) Program successfully completed its fourth year of the innovative business and entrepreneurship program on March 30, 2021. This was the second year that the program was held online due to the COVID 19 safety precautions. Sponsored by Rutgers School of Business–Camden (RSBC), RUSE is a nine-week program, which is designed to introduce high-achieving, underrepresented 10th, 11th, and 12th grade South Jersey high school students to business, entrepreneurship, and community and business leaders.
For the first time, this year, the RUSE program had an undergraduate track that allowed current RSBC students to compete for award monies sponsored by the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey. The High School Track awards were once again sponsored by the Delta Epsilon Boulé of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Inc. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place awards for both the undergraduate and the high school students are $1500, $1000 and $500, respectively.
First place winners in the high school track are Caheil Powell (senior at Burlington Township High School), Marcus Powell (sophomore at Willingboro High School), Fatou Ndoye (sophomore at Timber Creek Regional High School), and Jessica Wei (sophomore at Washington Township High School). The team won $1500 for their business idea, Compass, an app that would make applying to colleges and learning about scholarship and co-curricular opportunities much easier for students.
“This has been my second year participating in RUSE and my experience has been nothing but wonderful. The people you meet in RUSE are esteemed business professionals who want nothing but to see us succeed. Hearing from these men and women have been extremely inspiring, especially as a young African American woman. Our team put a lot of work and additional effort into our business pitch because of our passion for solving the issue of equal opportunity in higher education. I am thankful for the recognition and support from the sponsors,” says first place winner, Caheil Powell.
“My experience in RUSE was amazing and a great opportunity to see what it’s like to be in college and thinking about life as an entrepreneur and studying it in a business school,” says teammate, Marcus Powell.
Second place winners from the high school track were Taylor Baynes (sophomore at Timber Creek Regional High School), Devin Torres (sophomore at Lenape High school), and Rachel Osias (sophomore at Marlboro High School) for their business idea Germ-sense, a pocket-size UV sanitizer that would allow people to disinfect desired surfaces.
Third place winners from the high school track were Robert Bougazelli (senior at Moorestown Friends School), Veyonce Torres (sophomore at Willingboro High School), Meredith Simms (junior at Haddonfield Memorial High School), and Rebekah Green (senior at Camden County Technical School) for their business idea Safe Place, an app that would help people manage their grief and depression.
First place winner in the undergraduate track with the business idea Panoptic PJs, Deysi Vielma, a junior at RSBC, states, “First, I would like to say that I am so happy with this experience! In this program I learned that working in teams is very hard, but you have to push every day to succeed in it, and no matter what, you have to stay focused on your main goal! I loved that we learned different business topics in every session from amazing business professionals who shared their life experiences and their professional careers with us. They actually gave me encouraging words of wisdom to continue my personal growth in my own small business. Sometimes you need that motivation, and even when your own family doesn’t believe in you, you need to know that can achieve what you want in life. Although in the beginning I didn’t think I would be on the winning team, I am so thankful for being one of the winners because this showed me that I can do it! “
Teammate Pariti Sutaria says, “RUSE was an amazing opportunity to collaborate and work in teams with my peers where we were able to create an original business plan and pitch. This taught me communication skills and vital business concepts that I can use in the real world.” Ashley Rubio, a first year Management major and past high school RUSE participant, was the other first place team winner in the undergraduate track.
Second place winners in the undergraduate track were Anthony Coppola, Doris Bru, and Jenna Nunziatro for their business idea Pet Smart, a travel concierge service for pets. Third place winners were Lauren Angelino and Emanuel Rodriguez for their business idea Readify, an application that transforms text in a way that increases readers’ comprehension.
Recruitment for the fifth cohort of RUSE students will commence in October 2021.
Written by: Jannat Javed and Oscar Holmes IV