How One Student Group is Changing the Conversation

Stigma and taboo. These are just two things that keep individuals suffering from mental illness from getting help.  “Active Minds” helps promotes mental health awareness, education, and advocacy on college campuses.

The U of R’s chapter of Active Minds hosts a variety of different events ranging from guest speakers to a variety of awareness drives throughout the year in order to encourage a dialogue about mental health between members of the campus community.  Chapter members help to facilitate these conversations as self-proclaimed “stigma fighters,” combating misconceptions and advocating for greater awareness of common mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Stephanie Mejia ’15, a psychology major minoring in International Relations, and one of the club’s co-presidents, said one of her favorite events is an annual art exposition, named “HeART of Disorder.”  “We don’t just advocate for stomping out stigma; we show the community what stigma looks and feels like through various art forms,” she said.

“Prevent a Meltdown” was another program held last year that focused particularly on the student population.  Hosting an ice cream social right before finals week, one of the most stressful weeks of the semester, the student organization partnered with University Health Services in order to pair sweet treats with information about stress-reducing mechanisms.

The “Tell It to the Wall” campaign, which began at the end of October, offers the campus population an anonymous outlet to share their secrets and issues to the public.  The wall, displayed on the third floor of Wilson Commons, is composed of anonymously submitted posts, a la Post Secret.  That same week, Active Minds partnered again with UHS at the Sex and Chocolate Health Fair in order to discuss mental and sexual health.

Co-president Hayley Harnicher ’15, a psychology major with minors in mathematics and business, is thankful for the opportunities that Active Minds has provided her, from serving on the national Student Advisory Committee to the organization’s national office in Washington D.C.  Beyond this, however, she is most grateful for the clarity that the group’s mission provides.  “The best thing I have learned is that taking care of your mental health, or seeking help if needed, is not a weakness and should be commended,” she said.

The Rochester community is no stranger to the costs of overlooking mental health.  Last year, Samuel Freeling, an undergraduate student from Georgetown D.C., ended his own life.  Sam’s mother created Project S.A.M., which hosts an annual 5K Fun Run, the Spike Classic, to provide support and advocacy for those suffering from mental illnesses like depression.

Last year, the money raised by the Spike Classic was used to fund a new track at Sam’s high school, Georgetown Day High School.  This year, funds raised by the run and through their website will go to Active Minds.  The group plans to use the donation to bring the “Send Silence Packing” display to campus.

“It is important for our student group to support a cause that has directly impacted our peers and the U of R community,” said Mejia.  “It is up to us to continue the conversation and make the student body, faculty, staff, and administration aware of the cause and how we can make a difference in the future of our campus.”

If you, or someone you know, is struggling, the CARE Network exists to identify students who may be in distress. Simply fill out a CARE report or set up an appointment with University Counseling Services. Students can call 585-275-3113 to make an appointment.

Photo credit: Helga Weber/Flickr

What the Fudge?!

By Blake Silberberg ‘13
University Communications

Among the multitude of snacks and sweets offered at the Common Market, one of the more popular treats is the homemade fudge. But do you know where the fudge is made, or by whom?

Meet Kiara Medina ‘15 and Jessica Brogdon ‘16, the current University of Rochester Candy Engineers. The Candy Engineer position is passed down from year to year, with only two being active at a time. Medina, a junior business major, was an employee at the Common Market before she expressed interest in taking over the fudge position from a graduating senior. Brogdon, a sophomore epidemiology major, was hired specifically for the position, based on her previous restaurant experience.

As Candy Engineers, Medina and Brogdon are solely responsible for making the homemade fudge sold at the Common Market, a process that usually involves meeting to cook about once a week, although that can change quickly depending on demand for the fudge.  Medina and Brogdon are also in charge of creating the fudge flavors, a process relying on creativity almost as much as their cooking skills. The first part of the fudge making process is where Medina and Brogdon brainstorm the flavors of the week, planning out combinations of different candies, toppings, and sauces. Conceived sometimes in advance, sometimes spontaneously, Medina and Brogdon are masters of flavor combination.

rsz_3fudge1During their tenure as Candy Engineers, Medina and Brogdon consider their most successful flavor to be Cookies and Cream, which combines vanilla fudge, crushed Oreos, and Hershey’s Cookies and Cream candy. Fluffernutter and Rocky Road, however, are not far behind. The least popular flavor? Surprisingly, maple. During my visit to the kitchen, the engineers had decided on three unique flavors using a vanilla base: dark chocolate fudge with Reese’s Cups, raspberry jam with Rolos, and vanilla fudge with Fluff, chocolate covered peanuts, and chocolate chips.

Medina and Brogdon’s lab is a small kitchen across the hall from the Common Market, where their massive fudge making machine, known affectionately as “Bertha”, resides. Medina and Brogdon first choose the “base” of their fudge, either vanilla or chocolate. Then, they use Bertha to slowly mix and melt the base into warm, gooey, molten fudge. While the fudge base is in the machine, Medina and Brogdon lay out their toppings in the fudge pan, reserving some to top the fudge with as well. When the molten fudge mixture is smooth, the engineers pour it over the toppings, mixing with a rubber spatula to combine the ingredients, creating swirls in the fudge as the toppings combine with the base. Medina and Brogdon then arrange the remaining ingredients on top of the fudge, layering the surface with candy or sprinkling crushed candy on top. “We try to focus on both presentation and experimentation,” says Medina.

So next time you stop by the Common Market for a snack, be sure to pick up some in-house, student engineered Fudge!


Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Lauren Latona

latonaName: Lauren Latona

UR Major: Economics

Other UR Majors/Minors: Business

Current City, State of Residence: Washington, DC

Job Title: Account Executive

Employer: BioScience Communications, a division of Edelman PR

Community Activities: Treasurer of Friends of TASO (

How did you choose your major(s)?

In high school, I had a great economics teacher who showed me that economics uses intuitive ways to solve real-world problems.  It made me want to explore it further.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I played lacrosse for U of R. I never knew how much I learned from that experience while I was at school, but playing a sport helped me be able to work together with all different types of personalities, lead effectively, and be a strong teammate in the workplace.

Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?

My lacrosse coach was my mentor while I was a student.  She was always willing to help and give good advice when any of her players needed it.  I continue to talk with her today and we were able to meet up during Mel Weekend.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation?

Unless you know exactly what you want to do, I would suggest working after graduation.  By getting your hands dirty in the working world, you understand better what you actually like to do, which will help hone down options for grad school.  While I was in undergrad, I thought about getting my MBA after college. But, now that I have a job, I’m looking at a Masters in Health Economics or an MPH- things I never would have thought of had I gone to grad school after undergrad.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career? Where would you like to be in five years?

I work as an account executive for a medical education agency.  In 5 years, I would love to still be at my company, further advancing along the career ladder! It’s given my great opportunities and I know there’s a lot more I’d like to do here.

Summer Plans Series: Sander ’14 in a League of His Own

By Rei Ramos ’15
Univ. Communications

Baseball is more than just a simple hobby for Ethan Sander ’14. Starting early with an organized t-ball league at the age of five, his involvement with the sport has continued even into his college years. Now, after scoring a marketing internship with the local Rochester Red Wings, the rising senior has the opportunity to experience his favorite sport on a completely different playing field.

For the last three years, he has served as a heavy hitter on the University’s varsity baseball team. A business major with a marketing focus, Sander was lucky to have found an internship that catered to two of his very different interests, granting a glimpse of the commercial side of baseball. This summer, he will be taking a break from stealing bases on the field and will instead try his hand at selling out the stadium seats, among other duties. Throwing promotions instead of pitches, he works as an intern with the Red Wings’ marketing and sales department, formulating strategies to sell group tickets and ticket packages to the stadium suites and also personally coordinating with minor league athletes during mascot and player appearances for the public.

”I hope to work in baseball for a career and I think interning for the Red Wings is a great start and learning experience for that. The sales aspect of my job is beneficial as I have never really done that before, and that is a very important part of working in the front office of a baseball team,” says Sander. Stepping out of his usual role as an athlete, he is gaining a different experience from this internship by switching his focus from playing the game to selling it through measures like ticket promotions and fan giveaways. According to him, the position has introduced him to the importance of “fan interaction, especially when selecting and explaining to contestants how promotions are run.”

Moving from the dugout to the office for the summer term, Sander has been offered a unique and valuable perspective on baseball.  Involving many of the topics and subjects that he has encountered in his business and marketing classes, this internship has served as a beneficial experiential supplement to his field of study. That’s not to say that working in the less hands-on sector of the sport has dulled his interest. ”Being around baseball and a good group makes everything a lot more enjoyable,” says Sander.

While the rising senior is currently unsure whether his post-grad plans involve the pursuit of a playing career, he foresees a continued involvement in athletics in his future. Sanders says, “I would like to work in sports, especially baseball after graduation but we will have to see what opportunities present themselves.”

This story is part of the Summer Plans Series, a collection of stories about how undergrads at the University of Rochester are spending their summer. Know of someone doing something cool over break? Email The Buzz ( and tell us all about it!

Program Inspires Rochester Student to ‘Pay It Forward’

By Joseph Bailey ’15
Univ. Communications

When asked why she’s here at the University of Rochester today, Abigail Gonzalez ’16 will most likely reply that were it not for New Pathways for Youth she’d probably still be back in her hometown, Phoenix, Ariz.  It’s because of programs like this that troubled youths can beat the odds and attend institutions of higher learning like Rochester.  Gonzalez comes from a family of modest means, and throughout junior high and high school depended on the counsel of her mentor, Ellen Dean, assigned by the program. Dean would help her with homework, career searching, and networking.  A poster child for the program’s success, Gonzalez was invited to return to Phoenix in February to serve as a guest speaker at the organization’s annual breakfast.

The program has undergone several name changes in the time Gonzalez has been involved in it, both as a mentee and as a returning alumna. First, it was called Arizona Quest for Kids, was later named Phoenix Youth at Risk, until program administrators settled on New Pathways for Youth, taking out the word “risk” altogether.

It’s programs like New Pathways for Youth that allow bright young minds like Gonzalez to flourish and do real good in the world. Like many students at Rochester, she came in with the mindset of becoming a doctor, but also like many students, came to the realization that pre-med was not for her. Now a business major, she has aspirations to begin a foundation. Right now, she enjoys the small, personal, diverse environment of the U of R. Her favorite class is Spanish. She feels that in spite of her Latino heritage, she never really learned to read and write Spanish well, and now she has an excellent opportunity to change that. Gonzalez participates in several undergraduate councils, including SUBS and MAPS, and is an active member of PAWS. Around campus, you might run into her working at the counter at Hillside Market.

When Gonzalez returned to Phoenix, she represented both the University of Rochester and the influential program that got her here. It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to learn that in 10 or 20 years, she has established a new foundation for troubled youth, coming full circle from being on the verge of trouble herself.

Student Group Promotes Entrepreneurial Ventures On & Off Campus

By Caitlin Mack
Univ. Communications

UR Entrepreneurs is an undergraduate club that promotes the development of new enterprises on campus and the Greater Rochester area.

The S.A. recognized group, which started in 2005, is part of the University of Rochester’s Center for Entrepreneurship and has the support of many community leaders. The group has recently revamped their focus to provide clients with increased technical assistance, such as mobile application development, website design, and research development.

President Jonathan Gonzalez ’14 explains, “the club itself is an entrepreneurial project,” and that being involved has helped him learn how to lead projects, manage money, and think outside of the box.

UR Entrepreneurs is currently working with on-campus nonprofits UR Uganda and New Sudan Aid to increase awareness of each group’s respective social message via marketing, business and website development, and branding. They also are working with Jonny Trade, a start-up online trading company founded by a Simon School student, to help them facilitate online trading.

The group is always looking for new ventures, and would like to become more active in off-campus projects.  Gladys “Gigi” Nickerson ’14, is the group’s venture development officer. She is in charge of developing new projects and identifying entrepreneurial ventures, and acts as a “program manager” to keep track of the group’s current projects. Members are assigned to a committee representing each client to ensure that they are advised in the best way possible.

Other main tools of the group include strategy and capacity-building assistance and marketing campaigns.  Ideally, Gonzalez explains, UR Entrepreneurs will help “firms that have potential for growth and are not achieving that potential, but as a result of working with UR Entrepreneurs will achieve that potential.”

Gonzalez, who plans on a career in “responsible real estate development” for low income families, explains that being a part of UR Entrepreneurs has had real world application. For him, the important aspects have been “exposure to the reality of getting things going” and exploring what “it really takes to have entrepreneurial, leadership acumen. You need to make sure your ideas and input are valuable.”

The group recently merged with UR Consulting, a group established as a functioning consulting firm in 2009 by Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year (KEY) student, Gemma Sole ’10. The merger made sense to keep UR Consulting sustainable after its founders left and to further empower UR Entrepreneurs with similar project and tools.

According to Gonzalez, UR Entrepreneurs have a wide range of academic majors; the executive board consists of economics, business, and math majors, and the business manager of the group, Phillip Sellstrom ’13, is an environmental science major. Gonzalez explains that the group has enabled students of different academic interests to “gain practical experience in the field of business and insight into how creating value is actually done.”

The group is always looking for new members and recently held a well-attended general interest meeting on Sunday, Sept. 24. In addition, the group is currently in need of an off-campus publicity manager to encourage entrepreneurial ventures in the Greater Rochester area.  The position, separate from the role of on-campus publicity manager, “allows for the best branding and marketing exposure possible,” explains Gonzalez.  Qualifications for this position include web development and web design literacy, an appreciation for media, and creativity. Those interested in the position or interested in learning more about the group should contact Jonathan Gonzalez at

In the Photo: UR Entrepreneurs Executive Board (from left to right): Philip Sellstrom ’13, Business Manager; Danny Sarmiento ’14, UR Consulting Executive Director; Daniel Wei ’15, Secretary; Jonathan Gonzalez ’15, President; Gladys Nickerson ’14, Venture Development Officer; Lin Zhang ’14, On-Campus Publicity Director.

TEAM Master’s Program Wins Award

Center for Entrepreneurship – The master’s degree program in Technical Entrepreneurship and Management (TEAM) recently received the 2011 Award for Excellence in Specialty Entrepreneurship Education, presented by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) during its annual conference.

Through Rochester’s TEAM degree program students receive a strong foundation in entrepreneurial management by taking courses through the the University’s Edmund A. Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business.

Natalie Yager Antal ’11S (MS), show in the photo to the right, accepted the award on behalf of the Center for Entrepreneurship. GCEC has a membership of 200 university-based entrepreneurship centers from around the world.

Article and photo courtesy of Natalie Yager Antal, Center for Entrepreneurship.

Business on the Brain? Then this Major is for You!

Univ. Communications – This spring, undergraduates at the University of Rochester will have the opportunity to declare a major in business, thanks to a new collaboration between the Arts, Sciences and Engineering’s undergraduate College and the Simon School of Business. The major, which is an extension of the pre-existing business minor, was approved by the New York State Department of Education last month.

“The business major is a good fit for the College,” said Richard Feldman, dean of the College at Rochester. “It builds upon the curriculum and course work found in the economics major while allowing undergraduates to take advantage of the many opportunities offered at the Simon School.”

Feldman says that the College has seen increased student interest in a business major, which will provide an expanded selection of courses in economics and statistics, as well as business-related disciplines, including finance, accounting, marketing, operations management, and organizational strategy. Courses will be taught by both College and Simon faculty. Students will take nine courses required for the major, and then choose between two tracks; the first focuses on organizations and markets, the second on marketing.

“We are pleased to collaborate with the College to provide undergraduate students with the opportunity to major in business,” said Mark Zupan, dean of the Simon School. “Our analytic, economics-based framework for solving complex business problems serves students well in an increasingly competitive global business environment.”

The major, which has been in development for two years, was created by Feldman, Zupan, Ronald W. Hansen, senior associate dean for program development and William H. Meckling Professor of Business Administration at the Simon School, and Mark Bils, professor of economics. It will be supervised by a steering committee of faculty and administrators from both the College and the Simon School, including Feldman, Hansen, Bils, and Sanjog Misra, associate professor of marketing and applied statistics at Simon; Joanna Shuang Wu, associate professor of accounting at Simon; and Michael Wolkoff, senior lecturer in economics. The steering committee will monitor the program’s enrollment numbers and course offerings, and oversee internships, special lectures, and other opportunities that can enhance the student experience.

The program will be jointly managed through the Multidisciplinary Center in the College and the Simon School. Students who complete this major will graduate with a bachelor of arts degree with a major in business from the College.

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