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Orr Fellowships Pave Pathways for Alumni to Become Future Entrepreneurs

April 8, 2013

By Terri Hughes-Lazzell, Marketing Manager

Educating students to be innovative and have an entrepreneurial spirit are elements creating young Rose-Hulman alumni that strive for success in today’s fast-paced world.

“Engineering and technology is a part of all new exciting ventures,” says William Kline, dean of innovation and engagement. “It’s vital for America’s future that entrepreneurs are encouraged to start new ventures.”

              Orr Fellows Group
  Young Entrepreneurs: The Governor Bob Orr Entrepreneurial Fellowship program has helped young alumni (from left) Yaw Aning, Elizabeth (Strohm) Kozman, and Ejimofor (EJ) Oruche start their career aspirations with Indiana companies. (Photo by Chris Minnick)
 

For seven graduates that push has come working alongside Indiana’s most dynamic, high-growth companies through Governor Bob Orr Entrepreneurial Fellowships. This unique program offers two-year, paid executive-level mentorship opportunities and allows the state’s top college graduates to build an impressive professional network.

Among the first Orr Fellows in 2002 was Elizabeth (Strohm) Kozman, a 2002 mechanical engineering alumnus. She earned valuable experiences at Indianapolis’ Gazelle TechVentures, a venture capital company.

“I got to see the entire entrepreneurial process from the beginning—negotiations, making investments, and overseeing a company receiving the investment,” she says. “It was very different from what my classmates were doing after graduation.”

Kozman stayed with Gazelle until 2006 when she earned her master of business administration from Harvard Business School. She has returned to Indiana as associate director of strategic and commercial development at BioStorage Technologies Inc.

“The critical-thinking skills gained in my engineering degree have been beneficial throughout my business education and career,” Kozman says.

Ejimofor (EJ) Oruche, a 2011 biomedical engineering graduate, is wrapping up his fellowship at Apparatus, an information technology consulting and managed service company in Indianapolis. He is part of an operational team, consulting with companies, and helps build portals for clients. He also works on establishing efficiency metrics.

“Working in a fast-paced company forces you to make smart decisions faster, and know when to drop something if it’s not working,” Oruche says. “I came into the fellowship with no experience in business. My learning skills (gained at Rose-Hulman) made it a lot easier to pick things up.”

Another Orr Fellowship success story is Yaw Aning, a 2007 civil engineering alumnus. He used learning experiences at City Securities, a full-service investment bank, to found his own enterprise, Pocket Tales, a web-based social reading game that helps inspire a lifelong love for reading. At City Securities, Aning prepared financial projections, valuation models, and other financial models to give companies a clearer view of their businesses.

“The fellowship was invaluable in helping develop my business acumen,” says Aning, adding that the experience was similar to a mini-MBA program. “I always wanted to be an entrepreneur and start my own company. The fellowship gave me a deep understanding of business and what it takes to actually operate a company. It put me in a position to start and build my own company at a faster pace than I had anticipated.”