Class of 2014: Making Their Mark


Lendsey AchudiLendsey Achudi

A look at some of the students who, like so many of their classmates, have made the most of their experience at Rochester.

Lendsey Achudi: Securing the Global Village

By Julia Sklar ’14

Lendsey Achudi is like many college students, matriculating with one career path in mind and graduating with another, but what makes her unique was her journey to that end. As a Renaissance & Global Scholar from Kenya, Achudi had dreams of becoming an international diplomat focusing on security issues, so she chose an international relations major. A year in, Achudi began to wonder if, in the complex global world, whether textbook information from college would still be useful 10 years down the line in her career.

She obtained an internship at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York City in the hopes of gaining more practical experience. Achudi worked as the sole undergraduate and female intern for the Kenyan mission to the UN.

The work, drafting reports and preparing for meetings with high-ranking diplomats, turned Achudi into a veritably nomadic sophomore. She spent Wednesday through Saturday in New York City, flying back to Rochester for the remainder of the week.

“While [at the UN] I realized that there was a paradigm shift in the way international relations is being approached,” says Achudi. “Thanks to
the Internet, the world is now a global village. So for me to be an expert in international security, I have to understand how the Internet works. It is no longer about international security, but rather cyber security.”

Achudi’s aspirations have shifted again: she’d like to own a company offering cyber security solutions.

Looking back on her four years at Rochester, Achudi feels that she has gotten more out of the risks she has taken than anything else.

“There is a quote that a ship is safest in the harbor, but that is not what they’re built for—nothing could be more accurate,” she says. “There are risks that I take that lead to endless amazing opportunities. To me life is a huge experiment.”

In September, Achudi will begin work at Facebook.

Andrew Brink: Combining Two Passions

By Bob Marcotte

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Andrew Brink

Two years ago, Andrew Brink was looking for a way to blend his love of music with an engineering major.

During his junior year, along came the new audio and music engineering program. Brink becomes the first to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in audio and music engineering as part of this year’s ceremonies.

Combine that with his experience as performer and business manager with No Jackets Required and as a UR Events Support technician, and Brink anticipates all kinds of job possibilities after graduation.

“My favorite thing is to record— whatever, wherever—and edit it and fix it, whether it be sound effects for movies or video games, or working in broadcasting doing audio editing or dialogue replacement, or working in live sound with bands,” Brink says. “I’m also looking into event planning companies, digital media support, advertising firms . . . where the whole point is to ‘build your show.”

The new audio and music engineering major combines studies in engineering and applied sciences with music, and audio production to give students a technically rigorous, design-based education in the field of audio, music, and sonic engineer- ing by integrating elements of music, audio content production, acoustics, fundamental engineering science, sig- nal processing hardware and software, electronics, and software engineering.

What it’s meant for Brink is the opportunity to apply the math and theory of engineering in ways that appeal to someone who loves music as much as he does.

Eventually he would like to work in a professional studio, as a recording engineer or record producer, or in concert organization. “Because I have worked as a performer and technician, I can understand both sides of the argument you bring to the table. I enjoy working between clients and artists, and artists and engineers,” Brink says.

Marissa Balonon-Rosen: Musician on a Mission

By Julia Sklar ’14

Marissa Balonon-Rosen

Marissa Balonon-Rosen

Marissa Balonon-Rosen grew up in Rochester, but she created a world of her own within the University. She has taken advantage of the large number of opportunities only offered at Rochester. Balonon-Rosen is a Take Five Scholar, getting dual degrees from the College and the Eastman School of Music. She created her own major at the College. When she says “there was no way for me to fit everything in, in just 4 years, especially because I also studied abroad in Paris,” you know she isn’t kidding.

Balonon-Rosen’s undergraduate experience really took a turn when she visited a juvenile detention facility to do fieldwork for a freshman anthropology class. It was during that trip that she realized working with at-risk youth was a significant passion of hers, along with music. She majored in music theory at the Eastman School and she put together her own major in urban youth studies at the College, which blends aspects of anthropology, psychology, economics, business, and education.

Last summer, Balonon-Rosen organized a community project, Pianos for Peace, which brought pianos into outdoor spaces throughout Rochester, an idea that inspired her when she encountered a similar initiative while studying abroad. Ten painted pianos were placed in unexpected areas in an effort to promote nonviolence.

The combination of urban issues and music is a consistent thread throughout Balonon-Rosen’s actions. She has also taken advantage of Rochester’s Reach Funding, which supports unpaid internships, to intern at NYU’s Hip-Hop Education Center. The center teaches music, art, and dance to home- less and formerly incarcerated youth.

Next year, Balonon-Rosen will really bring alive the spirit of her highly interdisciplinary education by working at a homeless shelter for youth in San Francisco in an arts and music program.

Owen Colegrove: Perseverance Pays Off

By Julia Sklar ’14

Owen Colegrove

Owen Colegrove

When senior Owen Colegrove transferred to Rochester for his junior year, he had very little research experience under his belt. Now, two years later, he is one of few undergraduates with published work in a major scientific journal, Science. His research, which focused on solar physics, was conducted during the summer of 2013 through a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU).

Colegrove didn’t have an academic background in the niche physics field, but he forged ahead with programming and data analysis from NASA’s Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager, which he used to study the existence of giant convec- tion cells on the sun. Colegrove stayed motivated while conducting research alongside his advisor, David Hathaway, even when the team got stuck at a dead end.

“The first thing we tried, which my advisor thought was going to work, just completely didn’t work,” says Cole- grove. “This had really been the focus of the first five or six weeks of my REU, and that was a really discouraging feeling. But I just trusted my advisor, and held the mind-set that even if we couldn’t get the study to work, it would still be a great learning experience.”

The perseverance paid off—about a week before the end of his research experience, the team made a major breakthrough. From then until the end of the summer, it was a mad dash to pull together a draft of their study for peer review, which was ultimately published in December 2013. Colegrove traveled to San Francisco at the end of the fall semester to present the paper at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting.

“Stay open to any opportunity that comes your way,” Colegrove says. “The REU I got into wasn’t necessarily my first choice, and I was a little hesitant to accept, but I couldn’t imagine having had a more productive summer somewhere else.”

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