PhilaU Graduate Christine Holland Beats Odds to Earn Diploma: Nightline

Recent Philadelphia University graduate Christine Holland, who attended struggling Strawberry Mansion High School, beat the odds to graduate from college, ABC’s Diane Sawyer reported on “Nightline” June 20.

In a follow-up report from four years ago on the challenges facing Strawberry Mansion and its students, Sawyer documented Holland’s journey from high school senior uncertain about whether she would be able to attend college to her walk across the Convention Center stage May 15 to accept her PhilaU diploma.

Watch the “Nightline” report here.

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Student Entrepreneur Jordan DeCicco Receives $100,000 Thiel Fellowship

Jordan DeCicco is one of 25 young entrepreneurs selected worldwide for the 2017 class of Thiel Fellows.

Jordan DeCicco is one of 25 young entrepreneurs selected worldwide for the 2017 class of Thiel Fellows.

Philadelphia University student entrepreneur Jordan DeCicco, who started the organic coffee energy drink company Sunniva from his freshman dorm room, has been awarded a $100,000 Thiel Fellowship to further develop his business.

DeCicco, a star point guard for the men’s basketball team, received the two-year fellowship from tech investor Peter Thiel’s foundation, which also provides participants with access to a network of technology entrepreneurs, investors and scientists.

He founded Sunniva, a protein-packed, all-natural, ready-to-drink coffee beverage, when he couldn’t find a suitable drink that wasn’t loaded with sugar to fuel his 5 a.m. basketball practices. DeCicco worked with PhilaU’s Blackstone LaunchPad to develop the product and define the company’s vision, which is to provide an easy, healthy and convenient way for consumers to energize and be health-conscious. His brothers Jake and Jim are now part of the business.

“Entrepreneurship is pure innovation and creative thinking,” DeCicco previously told PhilaU Today. “It’s going into a competitive industry, believing in your product and making it happen.”

He enrolled in PhilaU as a business major in 2014, took a year off to develop his growing company and returned to the University last fall as a sophomore.

DeCicco is one of 25 young entrepreneurs selected for the 2017 class of Thiel Fellows, a program that launched in 2011.

“This year’s fellows were selected from thousands of applications from around the world,” said Jack Abraham, executive director of the Thiel Fellowship. “These young founders demonstrate incredible drive and courage to tackle problems that often haven’t even been addressed before, let alone solved.”

Read more about DeCicco’s entrepreneurial venture here.

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PhilaU Students and Alumna Named Adobe Design Awards Semi-Finalists

Gabi Stahley is a semi-finalist for her poster of a fictitious symposium, Life Beyond Earth.

Gabi Stahley is a semi-finalist for her poster of a fictitious symposium, Life Beyond Earth.

Three Philadelphia University students and a recent alumna have been named semi-finalists in the Adobe Design Achievement Awards, an international design competition. They include M.S. in surface imaging alumna Kaijie Chen ’16; graphic design communication students Leah Pellegrino ’18 and Gabi Stahley ’19; and interactive design and development student Myra Lloyd ’18.

“Competitions such as the Adobe Design Achievement Awards are essential for students to participate in,” said Michael Norcross ’09, adjunct professor of graphic design communication. “They provide great exposure and are impressive on a resume. Selected work elevates the project from simply an assignment to an award-winning portfolio piece.”

Winners will be announced Aug. 25. Projects will be judged on originality and creative excellence, effectiveness in meeting a communication objective and demonstrating skills in applying Adobe products toward these ends.

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Staff Spotlight: Megan Mills, Director of the Academic Success Center

Megan Mills mentors and counsels PhilaU students in their academic pursuits.

Megan Mills mentors and counsels PhilaU students in their academic pursuits.

This summer, PhilaU Today will shine the spotlight on members of the University staff. Here’s the first article in the series.

Megan Mills, director of Philadelphia University’s Academic Success Center (ASC), proudly displays a handmade, batik-patterned Nigerian woman’s kaftan, a token of gratitude from the mother of a former University student. While the vibrant-colored tunic reflects the diversity of the student’s native African culture, it also represents the tale of perseverance and courage that describes the very nature of the work Mills knows she was always meant to do.

Mills’ days of mentoring and counseling students in their academic pursuits originated with a position at her alma mater as an admissions counselor. She eventually transferred to athletics as the assistant director but continued to engage with students in an advising capacity. These opportunities gave her a holistic view of the college experience and how to interact with students as they navigate their undergraduate years.

The lure of working in a department devoted entirely to academic learning and advising was what led Mills to PhilaU. As director, her average day involves advising first-year and transfer students not only with academics but overseeing additional support in time management and study skills; exploring and implementing retention tools; and collaborating with numerous University departments. She enjoys coordinating with faculty members who serve as advisers for first-year students and transfers in assisting their transition to college and their overall academic journey.

The days are long, but the work is rewarding, Mills notes. “Support hours don’t end at 5. Most students require evening and weekend assistance, and ASC needs to be there for them.”

In her nine years at PhilaU, Mills continues to build off the strong foundation established by her predecessor and mentor. This past academic year, the Center welcomed a new learning support specialist. Under her leadership and the hard work and dedication of her staff, ASC proudly contributes to strong retention rates for PhilaU.

But Mills isn’t one to slow down. She’s currently working with the Registrar’s Office and the Office of Information Resources to launch an online academic planning module, where students can map out their entire four years at PhilaU.

While Mills loves the beauty and intricate design of the tunic she received from her student’s mom, the story of helping a young man who faced cultural and learning challenges is the best gift she can ever receive.

“It took a village to get him to graduation,” Mills recalls. “But seeing his mother’s face and how proud she was, made it all worthwhile.”

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PhilaU Student Entrepreneur DeCicco Receives $100,000 Thiel Fellowship: Philadelphia Inquirer

Philadelphia University student-entrepreneur Jordan DeCicco, 21, who started the organic, coffee energy drink company Sunniva from his freshman dorm room, has been awarded a $100,000 Thiel Fellowship to further develop his company, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported June 16.

DeCicco, also an acclaimed point guard for the men’s basketball team, was awarded the two-year fellowship from tech investor Peter Thiel’s foundation, which also provides participants with access to a network of technology entrepreneurs, investors and scientists, the Inquirer said.

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PhilaU Student Entrepreneur Finds Success as Fashion Blogger: Huffington Post

Philadelphia University student Megan Mandell just did what many fashion bloggers dream of, the Huffington Post reported June 16. Building off her reputation and successful blog, Honest Twenty One, the fashion merchandising and management major collaborated with local artisans to launch the jewelry line Auric Label.

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PhilaU Management Professor Wins Award for Entrepreneurship Paper

Irina Stoyneva wrote about industry life cycle and name choice of entrepreneurial firms.

Irina Stoyneva wrote about industry life cycle and name choice of entrepreneurial firms.

Philadelphia University Assistant Professor of Management Irina Stoyneva won an award for best paper on entrepreneurship last month from the Eastern Academy of Management-New England Journal of Entrepreneurship.

Her article, “Industry Life Cycle and Name Choice of Entrepreneurial Firms in the Biotechnology Industry,” was honored at the Academy’s annual meeting.

“Integrating arguments from population ecology and institutional entrepreneurship theories, I propose an industry life cycle approach is best suited to explain the dynamics of organizational naming practices in evolving industries,” Stoyneva said. “I differentiate between early or formative stages of the industry evolution and late or mature stages in the industry life cycle and find that there are differences in the naming patterns of organizations during the different stages of the industry development.”

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PhilaU Pitcher Almonte Drafted by Diamondbacks: Philadelphia Inquirer, CBS Philly, Fox Sports

The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Philadelphia University lefthander Abraham Almonte in the 26th round of the MLB draft, making Almonte the first Rams player drafted since Alan Wawrzyniak and Shaun Babula in 1999, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported July 15.

“I think the biggest reason for my success were the coaches around me and my teammates around me,” Almonte told KYW Newsradio/CBS Philly. Read the story here.

Almonte’s draft also was covered by Fox Sports, Delaware County Times, Savannah Now and other outlets.

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PhilaU Pitcher Abraham Almonte Selected by Arizona Diamondbacks in MLB Draft

Abraham Almonte is the first Ram drafted since 1998.

Abraham Almonte is the first Ram drafted since 1999.

The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Philadelphia University left-handed pitcher Abraham Almonte in the 26th round of the 2017 Major League Baseball Entry Draft Wednesday afternoon.

With his selection—which came at pick number 772 overall—Almonte becomes the eighth player in PhilaU baseball history to be drafted, and the first since 1999.

In his three-year career with the Rams, Almonte appeared in 33 games and posted a 9-6 overall record and the second-best earned-run average in school history of 2.41. He fanned 125 batters in 112 innings and threw the first no-hitter since 1999 on April 3, 2015, in a 7-0 victory over Lincoln University.

An All-Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference first-team pitcher in 2017, Almonte led the conference with 71 strikeouts and 11.34 strikeouts per game. He finished the season with a 3-3 record and 2.40 ERA. Almonte was third in the conference in complete games and shutouts.

“It’s just a dream come true,” Almonte told KYW Newsradio. “No words can describe what I’m feeling right now.” Listen to the interview here.

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Stephen Wilcox, Ph.D., Named Interim Director of Strategic Design MBA Program

Stephen Wilcox is a leader in the field of product-design research

Stephen Wilcox is a leader in the field of product-design research.

Stephen Wilcox, Ph.D., founder of the research and user-interface firm Design Science and a leader in the field of product-design research, has been named the interim director of Philadelphia University’s Strategic Design MBA program, effective July 1.

He will work with David Raufer, SDMBA program coordinator, to develop and implement an executive education graduate degree program with a focus on strategy and hybrid thinking.

“The Strategic Design MBA provides business skills, as do other MBA programs, but it also provides a deep understanding of design, which has become a core skill in most businesses,” said Wilcox, who holds a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Pennsylvania State University, a B.S. in psychology and anthropology from Tulane University and a certificate in business administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

Wilcox has worked in product development for more than 30 years and was one of the first professionals to apply cultural anthropology as an effective product-development and research tool. Wilcox chaired the Human Factors Professional Interest Section of the Industrial Designers’ Society of America for several years and serves on the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation Human Factors Engineering Committee. He is also the editor-in-chief of the journal Ergonomics in Design.

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