Ten Students Awarded Innovation Scholarships

The School of Professional Studies Innovation Scholarship recipients for academic year 2015-2016.

Top row, from left: Zhishuang Xu, Chiara Mannelli, Anant Bisesar, Anthony Pulgram, and Yasmin Khan; bottom row, from left: Ianthe Schepel, Drew Alexander Muller, Sarah Quadri Magnotta, Kristin Ann Pederson, and Tiffany Wycoff.

Ten students in their final year of study at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies have each received a $2,000 Innovation Scholarship to be applied toward tuition. The funding for these scholarships comes from the Class Gift, funded annually through donations by SPS graduates and matched in kind by the School.

The awarded students and their associated master’s programs are: Zhishuang Xu of Actuarial Science, Chiara Mannelli of Bioethics, Anant Bisesar of Construction Administration, Anthony Pulgram of Fundraising Management, Yasmin Khan of Information and Knowledge Strategy, Ianthe Schepel of Narrative Medicine, Drew Alexander Muller of Sports Management, Sarah Quadri Magnotta of Strategic Communications, Kristin Ann Pederson of Sustainability Management, and Tiffany Wycoff of Technology Management.

Xu says the Actuarial Science program’s coursework, career fairs, and opportunities to network with industry professionals helped equip her to change careers from an education consultant to an actuarial associate in the Model Risk Management Group at Prudential Financial.

For Mannelli, the Bioethics program shaped “a personalized path to an inspiring career transition,” as she interned on the IRB (Institutional Review Board) of Oncology at the Columbia University Medical Center and learned of the importance of informed consent in oncology clinical trials. “My research on informed consent is raising remarkable interest in Italy, where patients’ autonomy-based perspective is not as strong as it is in the United States,” she says.

The goal of Bisesar is to start his own consulting firm providing estimating and scheduling services, linking both fields through the use of BIM technology; the program has presented the opportunity for him to achieve this goal. “After a few years of working [as a cost estimator],” he says, “I realized that the experience I gained on the job needed to be supplemented by theoretical knowledge learned in a classroom from experts who are leaders in the industry.”

Aiming to broaden his impact on the world and make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, Pulgram transitioned from the New York City Opera into nonprofit development and, for his capstone project in the Fundraising Management program, is playing a role in the collaboration among the World Surf League (WSL), SPS, and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory for PURE, a new philanthropic arm of the WSL dedicated to giving back to the ocean.

In her current role as the head librarian of the City of Toronto Legal Library, Khan serves seven practice groups within the legal division, facilitating innovation and change as it expands its services from traditional legal research to knowledge services. “I now have greater expectations for my career development and aspire to senior leadership with more self-assurance and insight, because of the support I received from SPS faculty and students,” she says.

At Columbia, Schepel “gained a deeper understanding of [her] academic interests in the humanities, as well as the skills and confidence to pursue an interdisciplinary and transnational career in medicine.” She intends to “continue working at the intersection of biomedical knowledge and human experience,” combining her medical practice with literary scholarship, qualitative research, and medical education reform. Now conducting research at the Keck School of Medicine of USC on a Narrative Medicine Fellowship, she will enter medical school this Fall at the University of Oxford.

Muller wasn’t sure that graduate school was right for him because he didn’t want to obtain a degree just to get a job. Through discussions with Sports Management Program Director Vince Gennaro, he came to realize that the true value of the program is the globally focused, data-driven coursework and the multinational student body. The program prepared him to “appreciate the cultural ideals that drive sports business decisions in various parts of the globe.” Muller has taken his talents to Turner Sports, where he is a Sponsorship Marketing Coordinator on Bleacher Report.

As a self-described multicultural, working mother of three children with multiple degrees and certifications, Magnotta wanted more. She explains, “I was searching for a professional development opportunity in global communications, where I could explore my passion for academia, work in multiple languages and shape the next chapter of my career.” She says she found that and more in SPS’s Strategic Communications program and has since put her newly discovered passions to use as the Manager of Global Partnerships for an international hospitality company based in her native Canada.

Pederson has always had “a passion for life all over the planet” and obtained an undergraduate degree in biology and environmental science. However, she became frustrated by the constant discussion about the destruction of the planet and the fact that she did not yet know “how to broaden the impact of her work beyond a small, concerned community.” Pederson credits the Sustainability Management program with teaching her how to communicate more clearly and influence change.

Wycoff has been involved in technology and education for decades, and wanted to further her knowledge of the field through SPS’s Technology Management program. The program has helped Wycoff to adeptly handle rapid transitions in the field, and she is committed to continuing her education to “remain on the cutting edge of educational innovation.”