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Congratulations to the 2023 RUSE Cohort!

Sixth Cohort of RUSE Student Winners Announced

Written by: Oscar Holmes IV & Emanuel Rodriguez

Photo Credits: Kyle Bailey

The Rutgers University Student Executive (RUSE) Program successfully completed its sixth year of the innovative business and entrepreneurship program on March 28, 2023. The program met in-person for the full nine weeks for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sponsored by Rutgers School of Business–Camden (RSBC), RUSE is a nine-week program designed to introduce high-achieving 10th, 11th, and 12th grade South Jersey/Philadelphia high school students and Rutgers-Camden undergraduate students to business, entrepreneurship, and community and business leaders.

For the third consecutive year, the RUSE program had an undergraduate track that allowed current Rutgers-Camden undergraduate 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 were $1500, $1000, and $500, respectively.

The first place winners in the high school track were Austin Souza, a 10th grader at Camden County Technical School – Gloucester Township Campus, Kizya Chambliss, a 12th grader at Leap Academy University Charter School, and Kayla Waite, a 10th grader, at Camden County Technical School – Gloucester Township Campus. The team won $1500 for their business idea, Connect Fresh, an innovative service network to connect grocers and farmers to provide high quality food in underserved areas that current food delivery apps purposely disregard. On participating for the first time in the program, Chambliss remarked, “My experience in the RUSE program was great. I loved every aspect of it…. I loved the trips and the insightful lectures. If I could do it again, I would.”

The second place winners from the high school track were Justin Campbell, an 11th grader at Camden County Technical School – Gloucester Township Campus, who also participated in RUSE last year, and Michael MacArthur, a 12th grader at Williamstown High School. They won $1,000 for their business idea, Sun Runners, stylistic sunglasses that integrated Bluetooth audio technology so that runners could enjoy music without fearing their earphones falling out or getting lost.

Third place winners from the high school track were Dylan Cruet, a 10th grader at Gateway Regional High School, Kenneth Taylor, a 12th grader at Camden County Technical School – Gloucester Township Campus, and Sarah Towell, a 12th grader at Camden County Technical School – Gloucester Township Campus. They won $500 for their business idea, Barrels of Life, an environmentally friendly home water purification and collection product and service.

First place winners in the undergraduate track were Cristian De Los Santos, a junior Accounting major and Michael Ansong-Dwamena, a junior Accounting and Finance major who won $1,500 for their business idea, ParkWay, an innovative app that connects people who have space to lease for parking to drivers who seek parking spaces. De Los Santos stated, “Participating in RUSE over the past nine weeks has been an experience I will never forget. From the skills that were developed to the esteemed facilitators that our 2023 RUSE cohort met each week, there is no question that Dr. Holmes has built a program that every student could take something from. As for the final start-up business pitch competition, there was no better feeling than experiencing hard work pay off alongside my friend and teammate, Michael. If I were not graduating in December 2023, I surely would participate again. Nonetheless, I will remain inspired to use the skills that we learned to possibly bring our team’s winning pitch idea to life!”

Second place winners in the undergraduate track were Justin Harris, a senior Psychology major, Ramesh Pimentel, a first year Marketing major, and Ishaan Sharma, a first year Management major who won $1,000 for their business idea, Helping Hands, an on-demand landscaping and gardening service for people to foster more community cohesion and promote healthier eating habits and lifestyles.

 Third place winners were Jamyang Lama, a sophomore Finance major and Anna Collazo, a senior Social Work major who won $500 for their business idea, D.A.R.T., an innovative and discreet product that domestic abuse victims could use to alert designated people or officials of their location and their need for assistance if they are experiencing any type of threat. 

Representing the Delta Epsilon Boulé, Lloyd Freeman, Esq., Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC and Damon Pennington, President and CEO of ATS Group, LLC were the judges for the high school track. Freeman commented, “Each year, the RUSE program impresses us.  We are honored to reward the high school students for their entrepreneurial ideas, commitment to the program and excellent presentations.  Our foundation seeks to show these young people that they have a village of supporters who are willing to invest in their futures.  We expect greatness from each of them.”

Representing the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, Bydeia Harmon, Community Development Officer at AACCNJ, was the judge for the undergraduate track. In his first time judging the competition, Harmon stated, “The opportunity to support programs such as RUSE is the duty of organizations such as the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, as well as business owners who advocate for the cultivating of young minds who aspire to forge their path of entrepreneurship. Partnering with Rutgers-Camden for this initiative has been our privilege and we will continue to foster pivotal relationships such as this.”

RUSE facilitators this year included, Dr. Keanna Ralph, CEO of Dreamcatchers International LLC, Ray Jones, President of We See You Security, Adam Cohan, CEO of Brio, Damon Pennington, Rafiq Baker, AVP at Wells Fargo Bank, Kerry Benson, CIO of the PFM Group, McKinsey Alston, HR Executive, Investor, and Realtor, and Oscar Wang, Founder of College Together. RUSE’s off-site field trip was to the Philadelphia 76ers’ Camden facility where Josie Snyder, Chris Adams, Imani Cole, and Jonathan Jackson shared many business lessons and career advice on their leadership panel.

RUSE’s highest service award, the Champion of Business Youth award, is given annually to people who have gone above and beyond in promoting business education through their individual efforts and partnerships with Rutgers School of Business-Camden. The 2023 Champion of Business Youth award winners were: Dr. Keanna Ralph, Jennifer L. Orzechowski, business teacher at Williamstown High School, and Holly Pittman and Cathy Titterton, business teachers at Camden County Technical School – Gloucester Township Campus.

Recruitment for the seventh cohort of RUSE students will commence in October 2023 and more information about the RUSE program and Rutgers School of Business–Camden can be found by visiting the RSBC website.

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