Emma Rothman ’21 named Hunter Brooks Watson Scholar this year, inspiring other innovators

SU student Emma Rothman in an orange SU student

Emma Rothman ’21 has been selected as the Syracuse University Hunter Brooks Watson Scholar for the 2020 – 2021  academic year.  The role is funded through a generous gift to Syracuse University Libraries from the Hunter Brooks Watson Memorial Fund to honor the life, passion, and entrepreneurial spirit of Hunter Brooks Watson, a rising junior at Syracuse University majoring in Information Management and Technology, who died tragically in 2016 in a distracted driving car accident.

Inspired by Syracuse University’s Remembrance Scholar program, the Hunter Brooks Watson Scholar is a way to honor the life and entrepreneurial spirit of Hunter Brooks Watson who was a passionate entrepreneur interested in music — playing multiple instruments, performing, recording and producing music videos — as well as sports, and technology. He was especially interested in the emerging field of big data and had been working on new ventures related to predictive data.

The LaunchPad coordinates the Hunter Brooks Watson Scholar program and the Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards for Syracuse University.

Rothman, a food studies major in the Falk College, served as the Hunter Brooks Watson Scholar in fall 2019 and was previously both a LaunchPad Global Media Fellow and the LaunchPad’s Engagement Scholar (in partnership with the Maxwell School’s Citizenship and Community Engagement program). This year she also has the distinction of being selected a Rubin Family Innovation Mentor, providing peer mentorship to Syracuse University startups, particularly those with a social impact.  She helped organize and run last year’s Impact Prize competition hosted by the Syracuse LaunchPad.

Emma was selected in spring 2020 for the DIS Study Abroad in Scandinavia / Semester at DIS Copenhagen, recognizing her passion and expertise in the areas of sustainability, food security, and food access, as well as her work fostering social impact ventures. DIS is a non-profit study abroad foundation based in Denmark with locations in Copenhagen and Stockholm. The program offers high-impact learning experiences for upperclassmen through an intellectually challenging curriculum.

She is also a Falk College Ambassador and has been very active in area community-based food initiatives during her four years at Syracuse University.

Rothman has been passionate about community engagement since she was 12 years old, saying “I have been passionate about leaving my community in better standing than when I entered it. Each day I hope to become more involved with opportunities that inspire, interest and motivate me. In the future I hope to serve my community through food, nutrition and public health education programs for children.”

In 2013, Rothman and her family established a nonprofit called Hearts for Emma, which supports families of children with heart disease and heart transplantation in crisis; as well as, promotes educational initiatives relating to heart transplantation, and organ, tissue and corneal donation. In the summer of 2014, Rothman co-designed (with the New Jersey Sharing Network) the High School Heroes Curriculum, “You Have the Power to Save Lives,” which is required by New Jersey state law that all public high schools teach about organ and tissue donation in physical education class. Since the launch of the campaign, over 60,000 high school students have seen this presentation in four years. In addition to supporting the Hero Act, Hearts for Emma funds two college scholarships to promote organ, tissue and cornea donation on college campuses across the United States.

In addition to creating high school organ, tissue and cornea donation and transplantation educational materials, Hearts for Emma also funds annual scholarships to a Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Nurse, Child Life Specialist, or Nurse Practitioner at New York-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital’s. This past summer, Hearts for Emma expanded to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia—many of the ongoing family support initiatives started at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital will now benefit families in crisis on the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Working on these initiatives with the Hearts for Emma Board of Trustees, Rothman understands the value of community building and connection. She is passionate about leaving her community in better standings than when she entered it by being a leader in raising awareness and encouraging the discussion about the need for organ, tissue and blood donation through collaborating with ­educators, students, faith-based leaders, first responders and other community members to help spread the life-saving message of  the importance and vital need for organ and tissue donation.

Rothman is very touched and honored to have been selected as a Hunter Brooks Watson Scholar. “I am so excited to work with, and be surrounded by, so many entrepreneurs and like-minded thinkers,” said Rothman. “I look forward to helping build a community of innovators who share a vision of making a difference.”

Rothman will be working with the LaunchPad to help peer mentor other students who are in the process of developing their own ideas for ventures, along with helping prepare them for awards programs and competitions. 

In addition, she will be helping run the Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards at Syracuse University an annual spring competition that is part of the Raymond von Dran iPrize competition.  The awards are made possible through the support of the Hunter Brooks Watson Memorial Fund to recognize Syracuse University students who have demonstrated a passion and enthusiasm for their ventures or ideas. Four awards of $2,500 each are presented during the annual spring competition to teams or individuals who best demonstrate: passion and spirit; intrinsic drive; level of cooperation and candor between the team members; innovative idea; clear plan as to the continuation of the venture; proficiency and personality that exemplifies charisma and competence.