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Prosperity Scholarship at UB again expands to a record class

Buffalo cityscape

The Prentice Family Foundation each year rewards many of the area’s brightest students with full scholarships and a strong incentive to keep them in WNY. Photo: Douglas Levere

Published July 22, 2014

“Students are awarded not only for their accomplishments and promise as innovators, but also for their desire to contribute to the revitalization and sustainability of Western New York.”
A. Scott Weber, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
University at Buffalo

The University at Buffalo’s Prosperity Scholarship program welcomes its newest class of young, promising scholars, the biggest selection of students in the scholarship’s history and the program’s latest statement claiming many of Western New York’s best and brightest students as its own.

The 27 students – three more than last year -- include university upper-class scholars representing a variety of academic specialties, from urban planning to mathematics to engineering to humanities.

This is the first year the program has broadened its approach and included students from all academic disciplines, according to Hadar Borden, administrative director of UB’s Undergraduate Academies. The program is open to juniors and seniors from all disciplines, as well as graduate students affiliated with the School of Management and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at UB.

“Students are awarded not only for their accomplishments and promise as innovators, but also for their desire to contribute to the revitalization and sustainability of Western New York,” says A. Scott Weber, senior vice provost for academic affairs.

“It is our goal as an institution to elevate them to the next level, so that upon graduation, they can be even more effective through an intimate understanding of the region’s entrepreneurial landscape and the many relationships they develop with Western New York business leaders through the opportunities the Prosperity Scholarship program provides.”

The Prosperity Scholarship, funded by the Prentice Family Foundation, covers each recipient’s unmet educational expenses, including tuition, books, housing and transportation.

The expanded scope of the program assimilates students covering the full spectrum of academic promise, including those students studying to be doctors, social workers, scientists, writers, engineers, entrepreneurs, psychologists, public servants and economic outside-the-box thinkers who see Buffalo’s expanding immigrant and refugee population as commercial potential, not a liability.

Beyond the significant investment in these promising college students and the clear message to let their newfound home benefit from their talent, the program emphasizes activities that showcase career opportunities, job creation, enterprising spirit and the responsibility to give back to their community.

“This year we are excited to be hosting a week-long seminar as part of UB's winter session to help students understand the entrepreneurial challenges and opportunities of the Western New York region,” says Andrew Stott, dean of undergraduate education.

“Through this experience, our students come to better appreciate how they might contribute to the region in impactful and creative ways.”

The benefits for each scholar include:

  • A needs-based scholarship for the 2014-15 academic year, up to $25,000.
  • Financial support for a summer internship at a prominent Western New York firm.
  • A personal mentor from the business community for guidance on career decisions.
  • Membership to the Buffalo Niagara 360, a young professionals program that helps members develop leadership skills and build stronger networks.
  • Membership in the UB Alumni Association upon graduation.
  • Invitations to networking events and seminars where students meet local business leaders – including potential employers.

The Prosperity Scholars range from Osiris Gomez, a Snyder native pursuing a master’s of business administration who hopes to become a certified financial planner serving Buffalo’s refugee population; to Michael Pantzer, who is pursuing a master’s of business administration and a juris doctor degree who hopes to expand and promote the digital entertainment industry in Western New York; to Irianna Torres, a Buffalo native earning a biomedical sciences major who hopes to be an oncologist and biomedical researcher.

For a full directory of each Prosperity Scholar, including photos, career aspirations and personal information, click here.  

“I believe the developing Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus will play a crucial role in the revitalization of Western New York,” says Emily Brooks, a PhD student in biomedical engineering and currently a Prosperity Scholar.

“Born and raised in Buffalo, it is an aspiration of mine to contribute to the region’s economy through the establishment of a startup company in the medical corridor focused on the design and development of orthopedic devices.

“I am hopeful that this scholarship will afford me the networking opportunities to gain access to the diverse group of professionals required for the realization of this goal. Further, I look forward to working with an interdisciplinary group of students throughout the year as we learn about entrepreneurship and ways to give back to the Buffalo community.”

This year’s program also features a new Alumni Advisory Board, established in March 2014, that represents the diverse talents evident in the 27 students. Among the recently appointed advisors are Eben Piazza, Buffalo entrepreneur and connector; Micheal T. Logon, associate with Hodgson Russ LLP law firm; and Julia Jornsay-Silverberg, content marketing strategist at Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

The Prentice Family Foundation has invested more than $2 million in the scholarship program since the group started it at UB in 2009.

Local companies have frequently recruited Prosperity Scholars for popular internships. Previous students in the program credited their scholarship experience with helping them land jobs at regional businesses.

The program has more than 60 alumni, including Piazza, Buffalo City director of Startup Grind, a monthly entrepreneurial speaker series.

“Being a Western New York Prosperity Scholar has shown me that it is OK to want to create something on your own, to take risks and to not follow the beaten path,” says Piazza. “It’s also helped me realize there are people and organizations in Western New York to help along the way.

“There is no better feeling than when someone comes to me at an event and says ‘Will you listen to my business idea?’”