Through Documentary Films, KEY Student Finds ‘Ideas Worth Sharing’

Over the next few months, The Buzz will feature short videos produced by Dan LaTourette ’12, a fifth year Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year (KEY) student who is majoring in film and media production. LaTourette’s entrepreneurial project consists of documentary filmmaking, which captures some of the insightful and interesting things going on around campus. The Buzz caught up with LaTourette to learn a little bit more about his KEY project.

What inspired this project?

Well, first, filmmaking is my passion. Film is a medium that can communicate easily on both an emotional and logical level. Indeed, something can be told to you in a film and then shown to you, capturing an idea both at a conceptual level and a visual level. I use these characteristics to promote and engage in campus activities.

Of all the things you could capture on film, why campus life?

One of the most crucial things I learned over my four years here is that I really can’t absorb all the knowledge this institution has to offer. More accurately, I can’t absorb even a sliver of that knowledge, even if I made a Herculean effort. You don’t realize how much you don’t know until you start finding things out and then you think to yourself, “Wow, this exists? What else is there?” Whether it is a strange new course offered in the Linguistics department or you went inside a certain building for the first time during your senior year, there are countless things that you can easily miss throughout your college career and not even know it. In addition to this, shall we say, natural ignorance, there are moments where you’d like to explore something more but, alas, time is of the essence, and forbids us to take further steps towards quenching our curiosity. I know this has happened to me plenty of times (I mean, I really wish I could have taken a geology class or an artificial intelligence class or, okay I’ll stop…) and it always left me wondering what else could I be missing.

Combining these two unfortunate happenings, natural ignorance and the scarcity of time, I came up with a project that would allow me to film things all over campus in the remaining time I have at this school and place these videos in a nice and neat webpage for anyone to view at any point in time. You will see such things as Mini Baja, breakdancing, audio music engineering, and even stories from individual students about virtually anything.

What message do you hope to share through your videos?

The motto (or tagline) of this project is, “Ideas worth sharing.” It is a play-on off the TED talk motto, “Ideas worth spreading.” Like TED, I see this as an opportunity to make this campus more open to the many ideas and perspectives it holds.

It should be noted, and quite boldly, that these films are not promotional videos, let alone advertisements. My shorts stress on existence of ideas and nuance of ideas as well as emotional intrigue and quenching curiosity. The shorts will not be structured in a way that formally promotes a particular group but more focus on the ideas that they express. So, consequently, promotion is an inherent facet of my pieces even though it is not acknowledged when I begin a project. So it is here I will exclaim my mission statement: To express the existence of ideas and activities happening around campus. It is an observation of the ideas and activities to share within the campus environment.

I hope you enjoy these films as much as I enjoy making them. Maybe you might learn something new or better yet, you might get curious!

Dan LaTourette’s Videos:

UR Baja Driven To Succeed

Inside a Carillon Rehersal

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.

Rochester Senior Finds Success on the Stage

International Theatre Program – “I came into school thinking I was going to be pre-med,” Andrew Polec, KEY ’12, said when asked about his interest in pursuing an MFA in acting.  After his short-lived science kick, he became interested in business. It wasn’t until his sophomore year that he fully realized his passions for English, theatre, and music. Since then, Polec has finished two clusters in biology and psychology, doubled majored in music and English with a concentration in theatre, and completed an honors thesis on families in American drama. He also sang for four years in the dreamy, all-male a cappella group, the Midnight Ramblers. But these days he’s known on campus for his roles in nine UR International Theatre Program (URITP) productions, and as the lead singer in the popular band, Khat House. No longer looking forward to a career in medicine, Polec is finishing up a fifth year as a KEY Scholar, and performing in the final play of his undergraduate career, Adding Machine: A Musical, at Todd Theatre.

Polec has been busy this year. In October, he starred in URITP’s production of An Absolute Turkey just as his Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year was getting underway.  His project: starting a student-run record label at the University of Rochester, signing a band, recording an album, and releasing the record.  Polec and his colleagues were successful in all of these aims.  The label is called “yoUR Record Label,” and they signed Polec’s own band, Khat House.  They released their EP, “Welcome to Khat House,” at a sold-out concert on April 14. They also performed on April 27 as part of Dandelion Day’s performance line-up. They have sold a lot of albums, Polec said, and they hope to sell many more. “The life lessons that I’ve learned while being with that band have been nothing short of tremendous,” Polec said, reflecting on his time with Khat House.

The future of the band is currently up in the air as this coming fall Polec will pursue an MFA in acting at Brown University. Unsure of the extent to which the program will prepare him for dealing with the business of being an actor, Polec expressed his gratitude for all he has learned at UR about the arts industry. “Learning the process of how to get gigs, how to fund recording and album and all the nit-picky stuff in between has showed me that business managers are really important.  And agents.  No matter who you are as an artist, you better know the business, or you better have a friend who knows that business cold.”

Having had a good deal of experience learning the nitty-gritty about show business as a Key Scholar, Polec is eager to start learning the artist trade this fall. The undisputed star of URITP, he’ll be entering into a group of peers that will undoubtedly be made up of 15 other college theatre program stars. “It’s good to be with a bunch of talented people, because then you can see how you are able to improve and grow,” he said.

“Andrew is a born performer and he’s also a wonderful singer.  I’ve watched him grow over the years as his range has expanded,” said Nigel Maister, artistic director of URITP, who has been working with Polec since his freshman year. “I think that an MFA program will be able to hone—on a technical level—his skills as a general performer and deepen his understanding of the process and needs of acting and character development.”

Polec’s undergraduate acting career has come full circle in the past few months.  He performed in URITP’s first musical production, Hello Again, his freshman year and he ends his tenure here starring in its second. He leads a focused ensemble of remarkably mature and talented performers in what is a visually alarming, intellectually challenging, and genuinely entertaining production.  Maister said of Polec’s performance as Mr. Zero in Adding Machine, “[He] shows a more controlled and dramatically focused side of his abilities.”

Polec said that the role has “been a great final note to go out on” as he looks forward to working towards his dream of performing on Broadway.  The future of this soon-to-be-UR-graduate, it would seem, promises to “add up” to quite a lot.

Article written by Leah Barish ’12, a public relations intern with the International Theatre Program and a member of theater troupe, The Opposite of People.

In The Photos: Jacob Goritski ’14 (back) and Andrew Polec appear in Adding Machine: The Musical. Photos courtesy of J. Adam Fenster, University Photographer.

VIDEO: inspireDance Festival Takes Over UofR

Univ. Communications – This February, University of Rochester students, faculty, staff, and community members had the opportunity to experience Rochester’s dynamic dance community during the five-day inspireDANCE Festival. The festival explored how dance can influence dialogue, advance social development, create personal growth, and encourage cultural exploration and self-expression. A student-driven initiative, the event was organized by Arielle Friedlander ’11 as a part of her Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year project, with support from the Program of Dance and Movement at the University of Rochester.

To see highlights from the festival, watch the video.

“The festival gave members of the University of Rochester community the chance to learn, teach, and perform a vast diversity of dance styles,” says Friedlander, a native of Philadelphia, Pa., and a psychology major with an interest in dance therapy. “By experiencing these different forms, we hope participants gained a greater appreciation of the value of dance.”

During the week, local, regional, and national guest artists and master teachers conducted more than 20 classes and workshops. From beginner to advanced, participants had their pick of classes, including contemporary, hip-hop, jazz, tap, ballet, West African, Jamaican, Middle Eastern, Capoeira, injury prevention, contact improvisation, yoga, T’ai Chi, Qi Gong, and more.

The festival also was about connecting students with influential members of the local, regional, and national dance community. The festival’s featured master teachers included: Clyde Evans, Philadelphia hip-hop artist; Bill Evans, award-winning choreographer and esteemed dance educator; Missy Pfohl Smith, BIODANCE artistic director and director of Rochester’s Program of Dance and Movement; Darwin Prioleau, dean of the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at The College at Brockport; Sue Callan-Harris, physical therapist; Cadence Whittier, chair of the Dance Department at Hobart and William Smith College; Nicole Cotton, Syracuse modern dance teacher; and the 10-member faculty of Rochester’s Program of Dance and Movement.

Additionally, the Rochester Contemporary Dance Collective (RCDC) brought together a roster of professional choreographers, dance companies, and dancers for two performances that closed out the festival.