Jack Rose

Sarah Schreiber ’26 named Syracuse University Hult Prize campus ambassador and competition director for 2023-2024

The Hult Prize.

It’s an amazing business plan competition that challenges an international community of young innovators to solve the world’s most pressing issues through social entrepreneurship. Every year, one team walks away with $1 million in funding to make their idea a reality. And this year, Sarah Schreiber ’26 will be filling the role of campus ambassador and competition director at Syracuse University as she supports our own student innovators in preparation for the campus qualifier held concurrent with the Impact Prize on November 15, 2023.

Sarah, a LaunchPad Global Fellow and a student of International Relations at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, possesses a passion for international culture that far surpasses the routine studies of her degree program. This interest sprouted in high school when she had the opportunity to take her first Spanish class, and she’s been enamored with learning about people and places across the globe ever since.

Sarah’s first international adventure came about when she seized an opportunity to take an expenses-paid gap year in Germany through a prestigious scholarship program. There, she was able to pause and reflect on her nail-biting, all-or-nothing approach that she’d previously maintained in regard to her academics.

“What people describe as slow living in America is just life in Germany,” Sarah says. “The people there work hard, but it’s not as money-driven as it is here. They take plenty of time to enjoy their families, friends, and hobbies too.”

Through conversations with locals and numerous other experiences abroad, Sarah also started to realize how much larger the world was than Virginia Beach—her home, which she humorously describes as “almost the South, but not quite the South”—and this excited her. It excited her so much, in fact, that she began her freshman fall semester in Florence, Italy through the SU Discovery Program, an opportunity which provides an international foundation to students looking to expand their academic and professional options, foreign language proficiency, and comprehension of global politics and issues.

Between her studies, her international experience, and her role as a virtual SAT tutor for students in Mexico, Sarah couldn’t be a better fit for this honor. After all, there are few U.S. teenagers who are able to say that they gave a full-length presentation in German whilst in Dresden. One of her favorite credos is, “if I can do it in German, then I can do it in English.”

Sarah first found out about the Hult Prize when she returned from Florence in the spring of 2023. At first, she felt that she’d missed the bus on involvement opportunities, but that was until she befriended a LaunchPad alumna, Sasha Temerte ‘23—the Hult Prize ambassador and director for 2022-2023—who visited one of her classes that semester and encouraged her to stop by. It was at the LaunchPad where Sarah also met Claire Howard ‘23—the Hult Prize ambassador and director for 2020-2021—and the two of them quickly bonded over their interests in international relations and German.

That same semester, Sarah followed in the mentorship of her two new friends and was able to accompany Tree-Spun, the winning team of the Hult Prize qualifier, to the quarterfinals in Boston. While she was there, she watched as many pitches as she could and found herself deeply engaged in the rich, academic conversations being held between the judges and the competitors talking about their businesses.

“This is an incredible community to be a part of,” Sarah says. “The people drawn to it are international, so you will definitely learn about new cultures. They have ideas and plans to do good in this world, and they are such kind and genuine people. It also provides you with so many valuable connections. I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s really incredible.”

Sarah hopes to feel just as inspired by the competition this time around, and it’s a really good year for inspiration.

In the past, the Hult Prize has limited its competitors to create social enterprises that address specific topics, such as clean energy, early childhood education, or sustainable food production. But in celebration of the Hult Prize’s 15th anniversary, this year’s theme is “UNLIMITED!” Meaning, you can pitch any idea you want, as long as it’s world-changing and aligns with at least one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

If you’re interested in applying to this year’s Hult Prize, learning more about the specific rules and regulations, or learning more about the SDGs, you can visit the website here.

Syracuse University on-campus applications will open later this Fall.

Story by Jack Rose ’24, LaunchPad Global Fellow

Jack Rose ’24 named 2023-2024 LaunchPad Watson Scholar

Jack Rose ‘24, a business analytics major in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, will be the Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad Watson Scholar for the 2023-24 academic year.

Rose is a dedicated student and passionate storyteller. When he is not writing for the LaunchPad, he writes fiction and short-form content. You can read his latest work, “Flowers of Eden,” on his Wattpad account (@jackroseauthor). You will likely run into Rose working in the LaunchPad on his entrepreneurial projects, or mentoring other student innovators with specific copywriting and presentation skills. Rose is a great teacher as he is patient and diligent when working with students.

Throughout his time as an entrepreneur and creative on campus, Rose knew he wanted to help others make an impact in the writing community. His latest project explores some “… incredibly topical yet taboo issues that I care deeply about…Now, I hope to use my knowledge to tell a story that’s both entertaining and thought-provoking for readers.” Rose’s work has helped his mentees overcome “imposter syndrome” and find confidence within themselves to persevere through challenges, which led him to apply for the Watson Scholar Position.

Inspired by Syracuse University’s Remembrance Scholar program to honor the spirit and lives of those lost in the Pan Am Flight 103 disaster, the Watson Scholar program is a way to honor the life and entrepreneurial spirit of Hunter Brooks Watson, a Syracuse University student who passed away after injuries suffered in a tragic 2016 car accident. Watson was a rising junior majoring in Information Management and Technology at the iSchool. He was a passionate entrepreneur interested in music, (playing multiple instruments, performing, recording, and producing music videos), 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.

This Honorary scholarship is gifted annually to a student at the Blackstone LaunchPad who upholds the memory of Hunter Brooks Watson. It is funded through a generous gift to Syracuse University Libraries from the Hunter Brooks Watson Memorial Fund with the intention for the Scholar to honor the life, passion, and entrepreneurial spirit of Hunter Brooks Watson.

As Rose puts it, “I’ve decided for myself that living inauthentically is pretty lame, and I don’t want to waste another second of my life being too afraid to chase literally the one and only thing I’ve ever wanted to do since I was little, all because it’s “impractical,” or because I’m worried that other people might think my ideas are dumb.” The LaunchPad is constantly impressed by Rose’s disciplined approach to goal setting and accountability, and we are so excited to see what ideas will come about from his spectacular mind throughout the rest of the academic year.

Story by Renee Giselle Kurie, Blackstone LaunchPad Global Fellow; photo supplied  

Emma Lueders ’24 and Jennie Bull ’24 Are “In the Mood” to Spread the Message of Self-Love and Sex Positivity

Emma Lueders ’24 and Jennie Bull ’24

“This is bold, raw, and a little bit audacious…but I kind of love it.” That isn’t a thought I ever imagined that looking over a PowerPoint pitch deck could possibly invoke in my mind. Yet, that was my exact reaction when I first found out about Moody Magazine, the lovingly curated, playfully risqué brainchild of founders Jennie Bull ’24 and Emma Lueders ’24.

Jennie, a dual major in marketing and retail management at the Whitman School of Management, and Emma, a fashion design major at the College of Visual and Performing Arts with a minor in information technology design from the I-School, first showed up on the Blackstone LaunchPad radar for the LaunchPad x Deloitte Digital Innovation Sprint which took place earlier in September. At this event, student teams were tasked with creating a proof-of-concept to address a digital challenge in the world of enterprise. With the help of their new friends Margil Gandhi ’23 and Ruzan Pithawala ’22, Jennie and Emma brought their infectious combined energy to the stage to pitch their passion project for the first time. Here’s what it’s all about:

Moody Magazine—or just “Moody,” as Jennie and Emma affectionately call it for short—is a self-education and self-love publication that was born from the founders’ frustration with the lack of transparency surrounding topics of sex-positivity and self-love. The two have recognized that there are few safe spaces to connect and guide people through these traditionally taboo topics, which is why they’re so passionate about initiating the conversations around them. With aims to develop a fully-fledged online platform in the future, the publication currently boasts a team of writers, public relations specialists, photographers, graphic designers, stylists, and web developers that sits at about a hundred people strong worldwide. Moody’s first issue released last April, with the next slated to be released in early December. It’s possible that you may have already seen this first issue—featuring Jennie’s shiny, cherry red stiletto boots—in circulation around campus.

The Moody team ended up securing first prize at the Deloitte Digital Innovation Sprint, walking away with a $500 award and the opportunity for further mentoring from a Deloitte PPMD. This created a ripple effect within the LaunchPad, mostly because the nature of Jennie and Emma’s venture is somewhat taboo in-and-of itself, and not in negative connotation either. We simply haven’t seen anything else quite like it come through the LaunchPad doors before, so it was only natural that peer entrepreneurs hearing about it for the first time were curious to know more.

I learned more about Moody while I was combing through the pitch decks of the winning teams to write a brief article on the results of the event, and their slides intrigued me enough to reach out.

I was able to meet with Jennie and Emma in person to learn more about their story. I must say, it was well worth the wait. Before I share the genesis of Moody though, I want to focus the spotlight directly on the founders themselves for a moment, because they are two of the most interesting, carefree personalities that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at Syracuse University.

If I were only allowed to choose one word to characterize them both, that word would be armorless. Utterly, astonishingly armorless. I couldn’t tell you the last time I was greeted with an open embrace from two people I’d only just met for the first time, and as we walked down Marshall Street looking for a spot in the sun to sit down and enjoy our coffee, the way they spoke with each other was cheerfully chaotic and without pause. It was like listening to a brain that could literally think out loud, buzzing with electrical energy; Jennie as the left hemisphere, Emma as the right, finishing each other’s sentences. Then, once we settled down at an open café-style table just outside of J-Michael Shoes, the two of them periodically greeted passersby on the sidewalk, complimenting their outfits and striking up brief but friendly conversations with them.

Based on this, it was apparent to me almost immediately that Jennie and Emma are unabashedly comfortable in their own skin, and in such a way that can bring forth a similar confidence in even the shyest of people they meet. More than that, the bond the two of them share is incredibly deep. Jennie, originally a Chicago native, and Emma, hailing from Wayne, Pennsylvania, first met as sisters of Kappa Kappa Gamma, and then became attached at the hip due to their shared interest in fashion. In fact, they both currently work as fashion stylists for Zipped Magazine, the premier fashion and trends publication at Syracuse University, where they learned a great deal about the photoshoot direction skills they now employ for making Moody Magazine.

“The idea for Moody first came up when we were driving home from the thrift store,” Jennie told me. “We were making some stops on our way back from a Zipped shoot that day when we passed by an Adult World and started talking about sex stuff on the ride home.”

Then, Emma added, “These are conversations we feel comfortable having with each other and with our friends in KKG, and I know that other people have likely had these conversations with their friends too. In that moment, I think it really dawned on me and Jennie: why are these conversations that all of us have spoken about at one point or another not discussed more openly?”

Prior to this seed being planted, Jennie had ideas about creating a magazine on topics of sex-positivity to shed a non-judgmental light on the sexual experiences of young adults, while Emma had considered starting a magazine to help young adults understand the importance of self-love, having struggled with such issues herself in the past. “We kind of just looked at each other right then and there and said, do you want to make a magazine together? And that’s how it all started.”

Emma continued to describe to me the process that went into choosing the name of their new publication. “We wanted to pick something that sounded right for what we were going for; a name that could be both playful and a little bit naughty, but also not too raunchy. Originally, we were thinking ‘Sassy,’ or even ‘Spicy,’ but as soon as Jennie said ‘Moody,’ we knew that was the one. I remember the first words that came out of my mouth were, ‘Are you in the mood?’ That became our tagline from that day forward. We totally fell in love with it.”

But Jennie and Emma also knew that publishing their own magazine wasn’t a task they could feasibly tackle by themselves. So, they started to spread the word about their vision for Moody by creating an Instagram page and posting flyers in their sorority house and around campus. These flyers led to an application link via Google Forms which interested parties could fill out.

“At first, we were kind of just giggling about this idea of ours,” Jennie said. “We didn’t know if it would be something that people would even resonate with, but then once people heard, we got like eighty volunteer applicants in the span of a week. It totally floored me and Emma. It was just that sudden feeling of, ‘Whoa, so I guess this is actually happening now, huh?’”

Overall, the founders and team have been pleased with the work they’ve put into their publication, as well as humbled by the reception to their first issue. “It warms my heart whenever we have people send us little messages talking about how much they love Moody and what it’s been able to do for them personally,” Emma gushed. “Because the thing Jennie and I really want skeptics to understand about us is that we aren’t making an adult magazine. It might seem that way on the surface, but if those people were to pick up a copy and read it, then they’ll quickly realize that there’s way more to it than that. Moody has become an outlet for people to share their experiences on difficult topics that they might be scared to talk about otherwise, like sexual abuse, drug abuse, toxic relationships, self-expression, self-love, and so much more.”

“It also makes me happy to see that the guys are talking about Moody too,” Jennie interjected. “Especially when you consider that men are traditionally pressured to stay guarded about these kinds of things. But since we published our first issue, I’ve been out to frat houses and had guys approach me like, ‘Yo! You’re Jennie Bull from Moody Magazine.’ Some of them have told me that because of the context we’ve created, they’ve been able to have more open conversations with their other male friends and improve the intimacy and satisfaction in their romantic relationships.”

“And that’s really what it’s all about,” Emma concluded. “Through what we’re doing with Moody, we want to motivate the people who read it to start these same conversations in their own circles if they aren’t having them already. No one should have to feel ashamed to talk with others about difficult experiences they’ve been through, or to feel afraid to speak up about their personal boundaries and preferences with their romantic partners. We hope that Moody can provide an open floor and an emotional release for our readers in the same way it has for me, Jennie, and the rest of our team.”

Story by Jack Rose ’24, Blackstone LaunchPad Global Media Fellow; photo supplied  

Domenic Gallo ’24 is reimagining alternative and assistive communications tech to empower individuals with speech disabilities

“I have always been drawn to creative problems, yet I have always solved those problems in technical ways. I am very left-brained. But people need to know being left-brained can be just as creative as being right-brained. In fact, if you are forced to pick the perspective of just one side, you lose the overlap between them. That is where all the good things happen.” This is a personal philosophy explained of Domenic Gallo ‘24, a sophomore in the industrial design program at Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.

This semester, Domenic has enjoyed the opportunity of putting his creative problem-solving skills to the test in an inclusive design class offered through the Intelligence ++ program. The elective—available to both undergraduates and graduates—challenges students to ideate and build solutions for challenges unique to individuals with intellectual disabilities.

In a DES400 class, Domenic has been working alongside fellow VPA sophomore, Bella Young ’24, and his new friend Chase Coleman, a student from Syracuse University’s InclusiveU program. “Chase has a form of autism that makes it difficult for him to communicate verbally,” he told me. “Typically, individuals who struggle with this use a type of app called an AAC—which stands for augmentative and alternative communication—so that they can talk with people. It is basically a grid of images on a touch screen or keyboard with text editor used by people who have non-verbal autism to speak. You string together sentences using the images on screen and then the software speaks it for you.”

“But the problem is that most of these systems are antiquated and outdated in terms of current technology,” Domenic continued. “Most of them use ClipArt images and interfacing that can feel infantilizing or even demeaning for someone like Chase to use. The other issue is that for someone like me who usually communicates verbally, I have the liberty of being able to use words in a way that expresses my personality. But Chase’s interface on the other hand, it is not tailored to his personality or how he speaks. If he wanted to tell a joke for example or use humorous connotation, that is something he cannot really do right now.”

So, what should be done about this communications roadblock? Domenic gave me the rundown of his solution, maintaining his cool, calculated demeanor as he spoke. “What we want to do is modernize ACC, and we are trying to do this in two ways. One is by implementing AI technology to create better predictive text pathways that feel more natural to use. The hope is that it would be able to match whatever speech style Chase wants to use and suggest things he might want to say next. The other thing we have been thinking about is creating more dynamic layouts. The AAC grid is very structured right now, basically just a grid of squares. We are seeing if laying it out in different formats would allow for better personalization.”

Another aspect of Domenic’s product development process is exploring the idea of creating a brand new, keyboard-like interface by utilizing his CAD and 3D printing expertise. “When you are using an AAC on an iPad, you are pressing the touch screen for haptic feedback. You must go through the different categories to select the words you want to use. This works for some people, but what I want to test out is if it might be more beneficial for the disability community to have a dedicated physical interface. I am thinking that it might be less ‘busy’ than navigating a tablet.”

Domenic said that he had taken inspiration from DJ soundboards for his initial design. When asked how large he wanted the product to be, he unfolded his arms and estimated the rough dimensions with his hands. “Probably like a foot-long square; 8 x 8 with 64 buttons total. I want it to be something that is portable enough to fit in a backpack. I designed the physical model using CAD software, and now I am working on an app that can interface directly with the buttons. The idea is to have them light up with different options based on which word is being chosen. So, if Chase presses the word ‘I’ on the grid for example, a group of most-likely words or phrases with their associated colors and images will pop up for him to select next. In time, the goal is to have it adapt to his most frequent choices and preferred style of speaking. Think of it like iMessage recommendations, but on an actual keyboard.”

His proposal, “Reimagining AAC,” supervised by Professor Donald Carr, just received a SOURCE Fellowship of up to $5000 to continue research on the project.

Domenic describes what he is enjoyed most about his industrial design program thus far. “What’s great about the major is we do a ton of different things,” he says.” We cast a wide net.” Prior to the inclusive design class, Domenic worked on a couple of different projects, including one with the Smart Visions Systems (SVS) Laboratory at Syracuse University, where he organized brand language and a concept for an occupancy detection software. He was brought on towards the end of the project to help develop an HVAC system which utilized cameras and AI technology to determine how many people were occupying a given space. Based on how many occupants there were, the system would then adjust the temperature of the room accordingly to conserve energy costs. Domenic also held a summer internship at a 3D printing laboratory where he made a print farm and learned about cloud-based rapid prototyping. “I built 3D printers from scratch,” he said. “I didn’t know much about electrical engineering before then, so half the fun was learning how to wire without blowing myself up.”

Perhaps Domenic would have been exposed to it earlier had he chosen to go into mechanical engineering like he had initially intended as a high schooler, but he found that it did not offer the level of creativity he was looking for. “The other thing that I love about industrial design is that some of my classmates are artistic, while others are not as much. But there is an entire spectrum of industrial design projects, and you get to choose where you want to land on it. Especially with this thing I am working on now, I get to talk with expert users and people with disabilities who can tell me directly if what I am doing is working for them. We are designing with them, not just for them, and that feels fulfilling to me. I cannot wait to see how it turns out.”

Story by Jack Rose ’24, Global Media Fellow

Emma Rothman ’21 Writes About “Living Like She’s Dying” in Her New Book, “Things My Therapist Told Me Not to Say: Ten Years Post Heart Transplant”

On a first impression, it’s unlikely you would assume that Emma Rothman ‘21—a former Blackstone LaunchPad Global Media Fellow and the 2019 Hunter Brooks Watson Scholar at the LaunchPad —received a life-changing heart transplant when she was just twelve years old. From that day on, she was prescribed a new life structure that never felt like her own. Struggling to find balance between being “normal” and chronically ill, and dealing with issues of body image, guilt, anger, and ego, Emma has been on a long journey to recovery that went beyond her physical health. It’s this exact journey which she shares within the pages of her newly released book, “Things My Therapist Told Me Not to Say: Ten Years Post Heart Transplant.”

Every author sets their sights on the day when they’ll be able to hold their finished book in their hands for the first time, and just a few weeks ago, Emma finally reached that long-awaited finish line. Four carboard boxes showed up on her front doorstep containing a few hundred print copies direct from her publisher. As a first-time author myself at the querying stage, I can only imagine the elation she felt to see her hard work paid off in a tangible form. I was eager to congratulate Emma on this huge accomplishment and dive deeper into her experience with the writing and publication process.

For this book, Emma decided to partner with New Degree Press (NDP), a community-owned hybrid publishing house based out of Potomac, Maryland. Think of it as “guided self-publishing.” Authors who publish with NDP are entitled to the full creative control, intellectual property rights, and royalties from sales of their book, yet maintain the added benefit of marketing, editing, and distribution services like that of a traditional publisher. And for first timers like Emma, NDP also offers a community-based book writing initiative called The Book Creators Program to help authors develop a first draft manuscript over the span of about five months, all while working alongside a cohort of fellow passionate writers.

Emma at an authors’ book reading and signing

“Now that I’m finished, I definitely thought it would feel much easier in hindsight,” Emma told me. “I didn’t really know what to expect going in. It was a huge learning curve, and I had to do a lot more leg work than I’d thought initially. For example, we put a lot of effort into launching and rallying support for a pre-sale crowdfunding campaign last April which paid for the cost of publishing the book, which I’m grateful for. Most of the time, authors are expected to front all the money for publishing, which can easily become a huge barrier for authors of different socio-economic statuses. This type of approach can be great for helping certain stories and voices reach the public that might not be able to otherwise.”

Readers who pick up a copy of the book will be greeted by a colorful, pop art, blue-haired likeness of Emma taking a selfie at a bathroom sink, with the heart transplant scar on her right breast front and center. Generally, the first impression a reader will get from a book is based upon its cover, which is why it’s important for an author to think about a design that best represents their book’s contents. That’s why I wanted to ask Emma—who had legitimately rocked a full head of blue hair at one point in life—what her inspiration for the cover of the book was. The answer that she gave me was incredibly insightful. “The subject matter of the book is pretty deep,” she said. “So, I wanted to have something that could easily reflect that. The cover art is actually based off a random mirror selfie I found in my camera roll that I had forgotten about. But when I discovered that picture again, I liked the premise my book cover being like that mirror selfie because you can’t really hide anything in the mirror; what you see is what you get. I also wanted my scar to be front and center to show that I’ve reclaimed it for myself, because it was something I tried to hide for so long. And then the pop art? That’s just I style I enjoy. The contrast is intense, and I like how it jumps out at you.”

I had the opportunity to read about halfway through Emma’s book before my conversation with her, and I must say, the cover is surely an accurate representation of what’s written on the pages. Emma’s written voice is emotionally raw, courageously unfiltered, and invitingly conversational as she leads you through the personal accounts, experiences, and thoughts that have impacted her life post-transplant. I don’t want to spoil too much—because there is some genuinely good stuff to be spoiled, and I’d highly recommend that you pick up a copy and read for yourself—but something that resonated with me as a reader was the feeling of resentment that she associated with having a traumatic, life-altering event thrust upon her involuntarily. As a transplant recipient, Emma was unable to preserve the same privacy and normalcy that was afforded to other kids her age, and she involuntarily became the poster child of Hearts for Emma, a 501(c) 3 organization spearheaded by her own family and her local community to aid families of children with heart disease and support educational initiatives relating to heart transplantation and organ/tissue donation.

While Emma remains incredibly proud of the effort put forth by her family and community towards the cause, a great deal of her past resentment stemmed from the fact that she was hardly given any agency as to who she wanted to share this vulnerable piece of her life with, not to mention when she wanted to do it and how much she wanted to share. But now that Emma’s had the opportunity to reclaim that power and agency for herself through her own penmanship, she’s feeling a bit differently about it: “There was a lot I had to share with my family and let stew in my own head for so long, and it was getting to be suffocating towards the end. It felt like I was in this cage that’s starting to corrode with rust, and I needed to free myself before it could collapse on my head. But once I hit submit and I saw my book go out in the world, I felt like I shed ten pounds of emotional weight and trauma right then and there.”

Emma continued: “The hard part with authoring about personal experiences is that you’re not just thinking about yourself anymore.  You’re also thinking about different audiences and what they can get out of your story too. I had early drafts written where I was trying too hard to write objectively and hold back my emotions, and the result was a manuscript that read too flatly. So, I made a promise to myself on later drafts to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. When something started to feel icky while writing, my first instinct was to run from it, but because I was also on a deadline and people were holding me accountable, I just needed to keep pushing forward. There are so many things I shared on those pages that I didn’t think I ever would, but the reward that’s coming from that has been hard to fully explain. My truth set me free, and I think it’s doing the same for others.”

Through her book, Emma’s hopes to provide insight into the experience of what it’s like to lead a life as a heart transplant patient, as well as offer her perspective as a child who spent a great deal of her life in and out of the pediatric healthcare system. “When we picture heart transplant patients, we often picture older people who are at the end of their old life,” she said. “But that isn’t always the case, and these people—me included—aren’t as physically incapable as we’re assumed to be. Part of the reason why I chose a conversational style of writing is because I wanted to put some humanity back into the perception of hospital patients.”

Yet, even if you aren’t someone who has experienced a life-altering procedure or is closely related to someone who has, Emma’s candid struggle with her own identity and emotional state is sure to resonate with you in one way or another, because there remains underlying theme to Emma’s message that she wanted to make sure readers understood as we wrapped up our conversation: “When you are talking to people who are transplant recipients, or anybody who has gone through something difficult in general, always let them come to you first. Some might not be as comfortable or willing to talk about their trauma as others, and those individuals can sometimes receive questions that come across as intrusive or hurtful. I know that isn’t always the intention behind it, but what it does show me is that there’s a lot of room for education. People usually come from a place of wanting to know more about what an individual has gone through so that they can orient themselves to better help that individual, but it isn’t always the traumatized person’s job to teach you. Sometimes what that person needs are the time and space to process it for themselves before they open it up to the people who care. I’m hoping readers can take that away from the conversation.”

“Things My Therapist Doesn’t Want Me to Say: Ten Years Post Heart Transplant” is now available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats. If you do choose to purchase and read a copy of the book, please remember to leave a review if you enjoyed it, as it helps independent authors like Emma reach even more readers who could benefit from her story. You can also get in touch with Emma on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok

Story by Jack Rose ’24, Global Media Fellow

Celebrating the winning teams of the Deloitte Digital + LaunchPad Innovation Challenge

group in the launchpad

The first ever Deloitte Digital + LaunchPad Innovation Challenge was a huge success with 117 students registering for a seven day sprint to create a product, service or technology to address trends shaping the digital experience. Students worked independently and with LaunchPad alumni mentors around three challenges:

  • Trust in a digital world

From cybersecurity to blockchain, tomorrow’s winning digital business will transform the way they share data to earn trust. How can an enterprise innovate to increase trust?

  • Connectivity in a digital world

From virtual fandom, concerts, sports and e-gaming, large scale venues, to re-imagined retail experiences, workspaces, conferences and meetings, travel, learning, and more, how can an enterprise harness digital innovation to build better connectivity with customers, employees, and stakeholders?

  • Experience in a digital world

From social commerce to influencer experiences, to the future of the Web, how can an enterprise utilize digital innovation to personalize a user’s interaction with an organization?

The three winning teams each earned a $500 award as well as personalized mentoring from Deloitte Digital

Moody Mag

Team Members: Jennie Bull, Emma Leuders, Margil Ghandi, Ruzan Pithawala

Moody Mag is a sex-education and self-love community platform that aims to empower and educate people on topics of sex-positivity. Founders Jennie and Emma started Moody Mag due to their frustration with the lack of transparency surrounding these topics, and they wanted to create a safe space to connect and guide people, with the goal of making the subject of sex less taboo. Moody Mag is nearly 100 members strong with their first magazine already published as of last April.


Team Members: Ben Simpson, Jada Knight, Souurabh Gavane, Katy Arons

CommUnity is an on-campus peer-to-peer connection platform centered around the exchange of goods and services. This app gives college students the capability to request rides from their peers, sell new and used items, seek peer-led class tutoring, offer specialized services to one another, and much more. The goal of CommUnity is to give students a new set of tools to build deeper relationships with peers around campus, support student-owned small businesses, and create new avenues for financial gain.


Team Members: Zach Goldstein, Ben Smrtic, Jack Ramza

Looking for that next catchy song to add to your playlist? TuneTime is a social-oriented music streaming platform that gives users the capability of broadening their musical taste by sharing their favorite songs with friends. Every day, the app gives you two minutes to find a song to post to your feed. Users are then able to like and comment on songs posted by their friends, creating community among music lovers. The songs you post are compiled under the “Tunes” section of your profile, while songs that you like are compiled under the “Likes” section. Both can also be made into a playlist in your preferred external streaming platform, such as Apple Music or Spotify.

The LaunchPad would also like give a shout out the student mentors, alumni, Deloitte Digital leaders, Syracuse University faculty, and all the other student teams that came together to make this event a huge success.

Special thanks to Amos Cohen ’20 (finance and information technology), a LaunchPad alum who is product manager at Deloitte Digital who worked with the LaunchPad to plan and execute the event.

Story by Jack Rose ’24, Blackstone Global Fellow

The future of protein supplementation: Tyrin Fernandes ‘20 and Fauna

“Do you want to try some pita?” Those were among the first words Tyrin said to me when I first met him in the LaunchPad last week. In his hands, he held a Tupperware container with two different varieties sliced into triangle-shaped pieces. One was a bread typical to something you might find at your local grocery store; white, fluffy, and wonderfully baked in Tyrin’s own apartment kitchen. But the other was unlike anything I’d seen before. It had the same fluffiness, texture, and consistency, but it was an interesting shade of greenish-gray and had a slightly nutty flavor. Both were delicious.

The catch? One of those pita breads was baked using dried cricket powder.

Ew! Dried up bugs? In my bread? No thank you!” That is what the average consumer might think when their imagination runs wild on the idea of putting crickets into their bread, but Tyrin is determined to normalize the consumption of insect-based food as a regular form of protein supplementation with his food venture, Fauna.

“It’s the idea of the crunchiness that might be putting people off,” he said. “Eating something like a cockroach seems disgusting because you think about it being squishy on the inside, but when you are eating insect protein that’s mixed into your normal food as powder, it’s easier to take baby steps. That is what I’m hoping for with Fauna. I do not want to turn anybody off right from the start.”

Tyrin graduated from Syracuse University in 2020 with his B.S. in computer science and has been working in the LaunchPad for the past three months, brainstorming different ideas. At the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey, he was more interested in the green technology industry; thinking of ways to use technology to improve the current state of our global climate crisis. But as time went on, he began to consider ways that we could reduce the current level of emissions rather than enabling them to stay at their current level. He had also been studying up on the long-term health benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets through books and documentaries for some time, and movies like Bladerunner 2049 portrayed the usage of insect farms as efficient method of meeting the protein needs of the population. That is where the seed for his venture was planted.

The funny thing is that Tyrin claims to be a picky eater, and you would hardly expect for someone like that to be experimenting with insect-based protein in the first place. “I don’t enjoy seafood or pork, and not for religious reasons,” he divulged. “I hardly eat beef either. It is bad for the environment, so I’ve been consciously choosing not to eat it. We are in a place where we need to slow down the global climate crisis. In a lot of ways, it is already past the point of no return. There is a lot of droughts happening, and coastal regions will be flooding in the next few years at this rate. Holding cattle as livestock contributes to that problem, but if the demand for beef is high then the farms will reason to keep supplying.”

Tyrin’s thinking is that by making the push to popularize insect protein in the market as a tasty alternative, it might create an extra incentive for the demand of beef to decrease. “Insect farms are probably going to be a thing of the future. Bugs seem to be abundant. They are even in places you do not want them to be,” he joked. “About 60-70% of their bodies are made of protein. That means for every ten grams of cricket powder, you are getting about seven grams of protein. Insects are also easy to farm and transport because of their size.”

Even so, the insect populations are decreasing as well. “Have you heard of the bug splatter test?” Tyrin asked. “It is when you drive on a highway, and you see the number of bugs that end up on your windshield. That bug splatter is becoming less and less because the ecosystems are being destroyed. I personally do not like insects that much, but it’s still important that we preserve them.” The hope is that insect farming and a higher demand for insect protein in the future could also help slow or reverse the decline in the population numbers.

Later in our conversation, I asked Tyrin why he chose to focus specifically on making a bread product using insect protein. “Protein bars are already popular,” he said. “And I thought about doing pancakes at first or even crepes as well, but the crepes especially are delicate to make. People have found ways to sell the powder on its own as a supplement too. The only issue there is that it is quite expensive, and the nutty flavor is also strong, so a lot of effort would go into diluting or substituting that.”

With bread however, this was not nearly as much of an issue for Tyrin. Throughout the month of August, he spent many hours learning and perfecting the recipe for his pita. He does not own a stand mixer currently, so he had to knead it the old-fashioned way. “I kept going until I was able to get something that was at least edible, and I thought hey, at least we’re getting somewhere with this,” he remarked.

The recipe for his bread has a minimal amount of insect powder. It is just enough to get that extra bit of protein in without ruining the structure of the bread, making the flavor too potent, or making the color too dark. Tyrin is wary that the darker green the bread gets, the less likely people may be to try it if they see it on a shelf. “If you make it tasty above all else, people will be willing to try it,” he said. “But if it is too dark, not so much. That is why I put the plain pita side by side. If I can show people that they are not too different from each other in a taste test, then maybe those people will go and tell their friends as well.”

Currently, Tyrin makes pita out of his apartment and sources his insect protein from Amazon. He will be looking for wholesalers in the future, as well as a test kitchen to experiment with different production methods. Right now, he needs to keep his oven on for at least an hour before he can even begin the baking process, which can be expensive for the power bill. Not to mention that he shares his apartment with another roommate, and contention for that space can lead to some friction when baking pita all the time.

Crickets have been in human diets for centuries, and they are consumed in most countries of the world, though most commonly in Southeast Asia and Mexico. I was curious if a diet including insects was a custom in Middle Eastern heritage as well, but Tyrin said that was not the case. He told me that he had not tried eating them until recently. However, most of his youth was spent in New York City where he did experience a melting pot of cultural cuisines. When I asked for his thoughts on the matter, he said this: “Traditions are supposed to evolve. There is this one place in Chelsea Market for example where they put Japanese food into taco shells, and it’s delicious. The whole point of the culinary world is fusion. You want to keep mixing food to try and find new things to enjoy.”

Right now, Tyrin is pushing to get the legal documentation and processing for Fauna completed by October and has plans to get his cricket pita on the shelves for customers to enjoy sometime in December.

Story by Jack Rose ’24, Global Media Fellow