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Prosperity Scholarships aim to keep grads in WNY


Published June 27, 2013

Twenty-six students in business, engineering and medicine will get a full ride to UB in 2013-14, thanks to a scholarship that aims to help the region retain its brightest graduates.

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

But the program’s hallmark is a panoply of activities that introduce students to career opportunities in the area.

Each scholar gets:

  • Financial support for a summer internship at a leading Western New York firm.
  • A personal mentor from the business community to provide guidance on career matters.
  • Membership to the Buffalo Niagara 360, a young professionals program that helps members develop leadership skills and build stronger networks.
  • Membership to the UB Alumni Association upon graduation.
  • Invitations to networking events and seminars where students meet local business leaders—including potential employers.

The Prentice Family Foundation has invested more than $1.5 million in the scholarship at UB since the program’s inception in 2009.

Some local companies have begun recruiting Prosperity Scholars for internships. In an exit survey, outgoing students reported that their scholarship experiences helped them land jobs at such regional firms as Hodgson Russ LLP and M&T Bank.

Juniors, seniors and graduate students in certain business, engineering and medicine majors are eligible to apply, and 78 have received the award (including some who have gotten it twice).

“We are grateful to the Prentice Family Foundation for its generous support of UB students each year,” says A. Scott Weber, UB senior vice provost for academic affairs. “What’s wonderful is that with each new class, we’re coming up with new ways to introduce scholars to exciting career opportunities in Buffalo Niagara, with the desire that they will stay here after graduation and apply their immense talent to improving the region.”

This is the first year that Prosperity Scholars will get memberships to Buffalo Niagara 360 and the UB Alumni Association.

The mentoring program is also a new addition, notes Hadar Borden, administrative director of UB’s Undergraduate Academies, who oversees the program.

“We felt that it was important for the students to have someone in the community that they can meet with on a regular basis—someone who can answer questions and help them stay plugged into what’s going on in the business world locally,” Borden says.

This year’s Prosperity Scholars range from Emily Nuding, a civil engineering student interested in protecting the Great Lakes and regional watersheds, to Maya El Hawa, a business administration major who speaks fluent Arabic and French, and hopes to gain enough marketing research experience to establish a business that will aid local companies in expanding globally. A complete list is available online.

The Prosperity Scholarship is part of a pipeline of new UB initiatives designed to support entrepreneurial, civic-minded students.

Last April, more than 50 teams battled in the university’s first campus-wide Elevator Pitch Competition, which gave students 90 seconds to pitch a business idea. This October, a new E-Bootcamp will invite student entrepreneurs to go a step further and write business plans.

UB’s new Entrepreneurship Academy, which enables entrepreneurial undergraduates to live and learn together, is a co-sponsor of both of these activities, along with UB’s Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR).

All of these new initiatives help students develop skills and knowledge that will make them prime candidates for the Prosperity Scholarship, Borden says.