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Three Rochester teams compete for $1M Hult Prize

February 22, 2019

Three teams comprised of recent Rochester graduates and current undergraduates will compete in regional finals for the Hult Prize, the world’s largest social entrepreneurship contest.

First prize is $1 million in seed capital.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Hult Prize, and the challenge to all teams is to build the foundations of a venture that will provide meaningful work for 10,000 youth within the next decade. More than 2,000 teams will compete at 26 regional finals across the globe—from Cairo and Dubai to Madrid and Manila. Applications reached an all-time high of more than 120,000 teams this year.

The winners from each regional will be invited to Hertfordshire, England, for an eight-week summer accelerator at the Ashridge Castle, home to Hult International Business School’s Ashridge Executive Education program. The field will be narrowed to five teams in August, and the $1 million prize winner will be announced by former president Bill Clinton in September in New York City.

The Ain Center for Entrepreneurship provides support to advancing teams through mentoring and funding to defray travel and accommodation costs. The center also provided marketing and logistical support to student campus director Sara Anis ’20 for the on-campus competition held last November.

Here’s a look at the Rochester teams competing in regional semifinals this month: 

Group of four students posing in front of Rush Rhees Library.

From left, Ifigeneia Stathaki ’21, Marc Haddad ’21, Cherine Ghazouani ’21, and Ahmed Boutar ’22 comprise the Fourty Two team, at work on an education startup during the Hult Prize competition.


Project: Fourty-two is an education startup that aims to introduce a newly formed tutoring platform to reshape education in the Mediterranean.

Members: Marc Haddad ’21, a mechanical engineering major from Beirut, Lebanon; Ahmed Boutar ’22, a computer science major from Tunis, Tunisia; Ifigeneia Stathaki ’21, a biomedical engineering major from Athens, Greece; and Cherine Ghazouani ’21, an optical engineering major from Tunis, Tunisia

Competing in: San Francisco, March 15-16


Project: An online platform that matches those seeking to better themselves with the widest range of well-being service providers available.

Members: Fernando Parnes ’19, a computer science major from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; John Bissonette ’20, a data science major from North Kingstown, Rhode Island; Jillian Penfield ’20, a computer science major from Mendon, Massachusetts; graduates Kelsey Daly ’18, Matt Hood ’18, and Aaron McClure ’18; and Ashlee Daniel, a junior at Rochester Institute of Technology

Competing in: Boston, March 15-16


Project: Boodana will combat child sex trafficking in India by creating 100 healing centers there over the next 10 years. Each center will employ 100 girls who are at risk of prostitution, giving them paid internships to become certified yoga or meditation instructors.

Members: Xueying (Shelley) Chen ’19, an international relations and business entrepreneurship dual major from Zhoushan, China; Yaocheng (Sparrow) Tian ’22, an optical engineering major from Qinghai, China; and Matthew Stein ’17

Competing in: Toronto, March 8-9



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