Recipients of this year’s “Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards” celebrating the life and spirit of Hunter Brooks Watson were selected in a March 25 competition coordinated by the Blackstone LaunchPad in conjunction with the iSchool. The $10,000 in awards through the generosity of the Hunter Brooks Watson Memorial Fund, celebrate the life of Hunter Brooks Watson, a rising Syracuse junior who died in 2016 due to injuries suffered in an automobile accident, while wearing his seatbelt and being hit by a distracted driver.
The 2022 recipients are:
- Justin Gluska, Bus Point, $2,500
- Damaris “Koi” Munyua, $2,500
- Kelly Davis, Wo-manly, $2,500
- Zebedayo “Z” Masongo, Grnwood, $2,500
This year’s judges are current and former students from Syracuse University who are members of the HBW Memorial Fund Founder’s Committee and former Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award recipients. They included: Dylan Gans, Jack Adler, Jackson Ensley, Matt Goodman, Jason Kuperberg, Nikita Chatterjee, Issac Reisman, Jason Reif, and Jordan Goldblum.
“Hunter was an astonishing and unique young man,” said his father, Jerry Watson,” who has funded the program annually. “His goals were to make friends, make every day count, dance like no one is looking, and love life. As a result, he had more friends than most people have in a lifetime.”
Jack Ramza, this year’s LaunchPad Hunter Brooks Watson Scholar, offered reflections at the event about Hunter who was a passionate athlete and sports enthusiast who participated in wrestling, baseball, and football and loved soccer. He recalled Hunter’s love of music that grew to writing and recording. By the age of 10, Hunter’s song “Video Games” was recorded into a music video which created a sensation on several YouTube channels and resulted in over 10,000,000 views from around the world. His preteen Black Out Band played music festivals across West Virginia to Maryland. He was also a video gamer who created “Gaming Strategies” websites where he would share strategies on how to master the games and earned money from the ads posted by Google.
Hunter’s interest in computers and data analytics led him to Syracuse University where he studied data analytics at the iSchool. He was to enter his junior year when he died.
The Hunter Brook Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards celebrate student innovators who possess his zeal and are intended to fund with their ideas, enthusiasm, and dreams. The Hunter Brooks Watson Fund also manages a separate grant program. Hunter’s Fund which offers individual grants, up to $5,000, to help support young people who have interests in areas similar to Hunter’s, but who may not have the financial means to follow their passions.
Nearly 40 teams competed in this year’s event. They included:
|Anthony Mazzacane, Paul Franco, Zach Stahl||HydroHealth|
|Bearett Tarris||Natural Gait|
|Ben Delmarsh||Here’s My Life|
|Brandon Henry||Beyond the Box|
|Catherine Forrest, Trishla Jain, Abdullah Naimzadeh||Secwins|
|Claire Chevalier||Can Make Compost|
|Damaris “Koi” Munyua||Slay-Stainable|
|Elizabeth Goldblatt||Drake Riley|
|Hafiz Awais Afzal||Rahnumai|
|Jack Rose||Bladepoint Media|
|Jared Anderson||The Emergency Preparedness Project|
|Justin Diaz||Eco Bamboo|
|Justin Gluska||Bus Point|
|Justin Monaco, Bruno Gonzalez-Hauger||Illumenar|
|Kaifeng Chen, Luo Bei, Daniel Lim||Reality|
|Kellan Godfrey||Remote Start|
|Lexi Cianfrani||Club Match|
|Natasha Lauren Brao||Holy Egg|
|Noah Mechnig-Giordano||Happy Loose Leaf Tea|
|Sajjad Albadri, Sajjad Alhashami||QPuff|
|Selim Dangoor||Munch Jerky|
|Shaming Ma||Douyou Delivery|
|Simran Lakhani||Sense A|
|Travis Ghirdarie||Many Hands|
|Xuhong Fang||Learn Z|
|Yuki Jiang||Color Rush|
|Zach Katz||Indie Watch|
|Zebedayo Masongo||The Grnwood|
|Yuki Jiang||Color Rush|