GOLD Alumni Honored during Annual Awards Ceremony
St. John Fisher College honored 10 “Graduates of the Last Decade” during its annual Ten Under 10 Awards, held on Thursday, Oct. 10.
Recognizing individuals for their personal and professional successes, as well as their commitment to the community, this year’s awardees are health care providers, educators, community advocates, and serve as mentors for current Fisher students.
The 2019 recipients are: Christian Jensen, Emily Buss, Eric Friedman, Julia Schliff, Timothy Ryan, Odeta Kushi, Zach Hilt, Loriane Ngarambe, Chelsea Stahl, and Brandon Knickerbocker.
A graduate of the Class of 2009, Christian Jensen is currently the executive director of the Foundation at Episcopal Senior Life Communities. His goal since being a student at Fisher has been to positively impact the lives of others through his work and his career path has certainly shown just that. He characterized his life in the not-for-profit fundraising world as the most rewarding career decision he ever made.
Through stewarding meaningful relationships, he helped secure some truly life-changing gifts for various organizations including $500,000 for youth programs; $500,000 for food security programs; $500,000 patient safety initiatives; $1.4 million to create the Cheryl Speranza Leadership Institute; and $5 million to create an endowed scholarship fund.
Outside of his career, he raises money on a volunteer basis for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, where he also volunteers as the chef for the annual survivor/family picnic every year, and Gigi’s Playhouse of the Southern Tier.
Emily Buss is a 2010 graduate from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education. Today, she holds a leadership role as the assistant vice principal at Nathaniel Rochester Community School No. 3 in the Rochester City School District. She earned a master’s degree in inclusive education from Syracuse University and a certificate of advanced study in educational leadership from Stony Brook University.
She is involved with the community by serving as the co-coordinator for the Vision of Excellence Youth Program Camp and volunteered with the youth programs out of Jamaica, Queens for 11 years and most recently began coordinating camp for children ages six to 13. She also earned grants for peer mentoring and was the recipient of an Educational Foundation Grant to open a work-based learning café for students.
A member of the Class of 2010, Eric Friedman is the assistant director of ticket operations with the Rochester Red Wings. He oversees daily operations of the ticket office, manages staff, and serves as a liaison between the team and community organizations. In his role, Friedman has generated $2.5 million in total revenue for the Rochester Red Wings over the past five years and has helped take the fan experience to the next level.
He also helped create six signature community-based events at Frontier Field including Survivors Night, Rotary Day, Education Day, Careers in Sports Day, Catholic Schools Day, and the Walk of Fame Induction.
His connection to Fisher remains strong as he makes visits to the classroom to talk with sport management students and provides mentorship and assists with classroom projects. Previously, he also served as an assistant coach with women’s soccer.
He extends his involvement into the community through the Rochester Boys & Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, Rochester Press Radio Club Day of Champions Dinner, Holy Childhood Baseball Camp, and Open Build Up.
Julia Schliff graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She was one of the first recipients of the Post 9/11 GI Bill and advocates to assist veterans’ transition from military life into the academic world easier.
A nurse practitioner at the University of Rochester, she has experience as a circulating nurse in the operating room, labor and delivery, and now in the outpatient wound healing center.
After returning to complete a master’s in nursing in 2015, she earned a position on staff with the St. John Fisher College Wegmans School of Nursing.
When she is not busy in the hospital, she volunteers with the military veteran organization, Team Rubicon USA.
A member of the Class of 2012, Timothy Ryan serves as a young adult services, media and reference librarian at the Lincoln Branch Library with the City of Rochester. After Fisher, he earned a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Buffalo in 2014 and went on to receive a master’s in jurisprudence from Seton Hall University’s School of Law in 2019. He is currently enrolled in the MBA program at Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business.
As a librarian, he supervises library staff, conducts regular community needs assessments, ensures the library collections are current and relevant, and works to maintain effective relationships with the community and area schools.
His work has earned him the RRLC Public Library of the Year in 2016, the American Library Association “I Love My Librarian Award” in 2017, and most recently, the City of Rochester Special Mayoral Recognition Certificate from the City of Rochester.
His commitment to service also includes work with the Joseph C. Wilson Foundation, Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park, Collaborative Summer Library Program, and the Racial Equity and Justice Initiative of the Rochester Public Library System.
Odeta Kushi is a 2013 graduate who serves as the deputy chief economist with First American in Washington, D.C.
At the age of 28, she has risen in her company and industry, traveling the country to give interviews to top media outlets, while supervising a team of researchers and high producing reports, publications, and data on the housing market and general economic matters. She appears frequently on Bloomberg News, NPR, CNBC, and other national outlets as an expert in the field. Kushi finished both her bachelor’s degree from Fisher and master’s degree from Northeastern University with 4.0 GPAs.
In her community, she participates as a mentor for career planning and uses her platform to disseminate knowledge to the public regarding home ownership, encouraging better policymaking and economic equality for the current and aspiring American homeowners.
A fourth year doctoral student in the University of Rochester’s Translational Biomedical Science Program, Zach Hilt studies the role of platelets in regulating the monocyte inflammatory response. A member of Fisher’s Class of 2014, he has presented at multiple conferences including oral presentations at Vascular Discovery: From Genes to Medicine 2019 Scientific Sessions and 2019 Cell Biology of Megakaryocytes and Platelets Gordon Research Conference in addition to poster presentations at other conferences including the 2017 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.
In the community, he is involved as an assistant cross country coach at Rush-Henrietta High School, where he contributed to nine Section V Team titles. Previously, he was head coach of the School of the Arts where he won the Rochester City Athletic Conference title for women’s track and field and had multiple state qualifiers.
Loriane Ngarambe, a graduate of the Class of 2014, spent time with AmeriCorps VISTA following Fisher, has worked for the Catholic Family Center in the Refugee Resettlement Department, and in 2017, she managed the Family Independence Initiative. Currently, she is the community engagement specialist with the United Way of Greater Rochester’s Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative.
She remains involved in the Fisher community through mentoring HEOP students and working to celebrate program milestones, including the recent 50th anniversary celebration dinner held on campus.
In spring 2019, she was selected to serve on Fisher’s Presidential Taskforce on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
After Chelsea Stahl completed her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2014, she was employed at Strong Memorial Hospital as a BSN, RN. While working full-time at Strong Hospital, she enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Practitioner (DNP)-Family Nurse Practice (FNP) program at Fisher.
Her commitment to her profession is marked both by her dedication to continued intellectual growth and by her dedication to her patients. She has earned Level 3 RN designation and Bronze Star Awards from Strong between 2015 to 2018. The Bronze Star Awards represent patient and staff recognition of dedication and excellence in nursing.
Today, in her current role at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH), Stahl serves as a family nurse practitioner in the Department of Radiation Oncology, Division of Gastrointestinal Cancer and Sarcoma, where she works with the attending physician who brought Proton Beam Therapy to the DC area.
Brandon Knickerbocker is a 2016 graduate of Fisher and currently serves as a branch manager assistant vice president for M & T Bank, Inc.
After graduation, he enrolled in M&T’s Management Development Program with a special concentration in Retail Branch Management. By 2017, he had been promoted to assistant branch manager and then to branch manager a year later.
He continues his involvement with campus by coming into the classroom for personal financial planning to offer practical knowledge on banking strategies and products for students. In addition, he offers mentoring to current students, integral for student development.