19 Incredibly Impressive Students At Cornell

John Oliver Rogers, cornell studentCourtesy of John Oliver RogersJohn Oliver Rogers’ digital game studio makes beautiful, award-winning games.

Nearly 15,000 students attend Cornell University, an Ivy League college set against the rolling hills and gorges of Ithaca, New York.

Getting in is no easy feat; just 15% of applicants are accepted, and a great majority graduated in the top 10% of their high-school classes.

We sought the help of Cornell’s public-affairs office to track down the best and brightest students.

Edgar Akuffo-Addo is combatting malnutrition in Ghana.

Class of 2016

Akuffo-Addo, the recipient of a Projects for Peace grant, launched ENAM to build a sustainable poultry farm in a deprived Ghanaian village. The community space aims to alleviate the threat of malnutrition by providing a local, dramatically cheaper source of animal protein in an area in which women and children suffer severely.

Akuffo-Addo has secured funding, three acres of land, and the chicks, and he is passing the construction reins over to locals and expert building contractors -- all despite pushbacks thanks to an unfavorable economy in Ghana. Still, he anticipates about 250 families will benefit from the farm upon its completion this summer.

The human biology major is applying for a master's degree in healthcare administration at Cornell, and he plans to one day earn his medical degree.

Kristen Barnett summited Mt. Kilimanjaro for charity.

Class of 2015

As the president of Mountains for Mums, Barnett led a 13-person trip to the 19,341-foot-high summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro and raised more than $US19,000 to combat obstetric fistula. The money funded more than 90 reconstructive surgeries for women suffering from this painful condition.

Barnett also founded the Dyson Symposium on Women in Leadership, a conference to boost support and programming for women in leadership on campus. She invited female leaders to speak and present, bringing together more than 120 participants at the two-day conference.

The president of the business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi, Barnett will join the Boston Consulting Group when she graduates; she plans to eventually work and live in Europe and to go to business school in Boston.

Marianne Collard is discovering potential medicinal properties in the plant fenugreek.

Class of 2015

Collard has been researching the health effects of fenugreek, an herbaceous plant whose seeds are often used in Indian, North African, and Middle Eastern cooking.

Fenugreek is the least-studied plant containing phytoestrogens, chemical compounds that can interact with human hormones. In studying their properties and applying them to human health, Collard sought to isolate the compound that has been recorded to interact with hormones like estrogen and even to increase the production of breast milk in lactating women. Fenugreek could either be harmful or beneficial, depending on an individual's health situation, and Collard's research sees potential toxicological purposes in the plant that could eventually be used in medication.

Collard is also a captain of the Cornell cross-country team, and she plans to get a Ph.D. in pharmacology when she graduates.

Kendrick Coq is improving the opportunities of students of colour at Cornell.

Class of 2015

The copresident of Scholars Working Ambitiously to Graduate (SWAG), Coq is giving a voice to black men at Cornell and is increasing both retention and graduation rates.

In the past two years working with SWAG, Coq has seen an 8% increase in the graduation rate of black male students to 83%, and he expects that number to keep climbing. He also led the organisation to win $US4,000 from the Engaged Learning and Research Center at Cornell for SWAG's commitment to action for the Clinton Global Initiative University.

Coq also cofounded LGND Supply Co., a positive-lifestyle clothing company. Coq and his cofounders not only design and sell their own items, but partner with local artists to create other unique products.

Coq graduates in May and plans to attend law school with a focus on entertainment law, and he aspires to make an impact in media.

Alexander Gimenez founded a sports-entertainment network that covers Cornell athletics.

Class of 2015

Gimenez founded Big Red Sports Network, a student-run sports-media organisation dedicated to covering Cornell athletics, on the notion that students, parents, and alumni needed a central hub to follow their favourite players year-round.

Gimenez has grown the organisation from a one-man show to a 50-person operation. Coverage spans live broadcasting of sporting events, FM and online radio shows, blog posts on the teams and athletes, video and TV projects, and events.

A lover of all things sports, Gimenez plans to pursue a career in broadcast and in media relations, player operations, or in league-side labour relations.

Alexon Grochowski built a sustainable school in Haiti.

Class of 2015

When the 2010 earthquake devastated Haiti, leaving many children disabled and few schools equipped to meet their needs, Grochowski founded Centre d'Education Inclusif (CEI), an initiative to build the first fully inclusive primary school -- a school that integrates students of all ability and learning levels --
in Les Cayes, Haiti, to allow more students the opportunity to get a quality education.

Inclusive schools tend to cater the curriculum to the individual needs of students and to incorporate more project-based and hands-on learning.

Grochowski works with local partners and a team of 22 Cornell students to make her vision a reality. She has made numerous trips to Haiti to secure land for the school and to meet with government and community leaders. Once finished, the sustainably built, earthquake- and hurricane-resistant school will accommodate 150 students of all abilities.

After graduation, Grochowski, who is majoring in policy analysis and management, wants to move to Haiti to continue her work with CEI. Her ultimate goal is to replicate the school's inclusive model across the country.

Adarsh Jayakumar is an internationally ranked chess player.

Class of 2017

Jayakumar had an untraditional gap year after high school, visiting 15 countries in pursuit of the title of international master. Previously ranked No. 2 in the US Juniors circuit, he solidified his status as a global threat when he defeated former World Championship candidate and grandmaster Ivan Sokolov.

Last fall, Jayakumar shared his love of the sport with fellow Cornellians by conducting a 'Simul' game. He played chess with 46 students and professors simultaneously, with boards set up around him. Over the course of four hours, the electrical engineering major won 40 games and drew three.

He plans to build a career in designing, building, and marketing clean-energy systems.

Max Kellogg manages a research lab that studies how the economy affects people's health.

Class of 2015

Kellogg works with Cornell professors to study how various economic and consumer influences, such as ads, affect individual health behaviours. Beyond that, Kellogg manages the lab and the 12 undergraduates who work there. He also organizes and teaches the full-credit training course that students have to pass to work in the lab.

His biggest project researches how consumer ads for statins -- drugs used to control cholesterol -- might cause their overuse or the overconsumption of unhealthy foods. His work has made him an expert on the Simmons National Consumer Survey.

Kellogg is also studying the impact that economic changes can have on understanding suicidal behaviour. He hopes his research will 'demonstrate that economic principles are much broader and more powerful tools than many realise,' he told Business Insider, and he wants to get his work published 'in order to contribute to better-informed suicide-prevention policies.' Kellogg is planning on pursuing a Ph.D. when he graduates.

Chris Kirby started a hummus company that distributes across the region.

Class of 2015

Kirby launched Ithaca Hummus two years ago, and already the budding company is on track to earn annual revenues of $US250,000 -- a run rate the 27-year-old expects to crush in 2015.

Kirby set out to make a snack that lasts long on the shelf without sacrificing nutrition. Every batch of the guilt-free, preservative-free hummus is made from hand-squeezed lemons, raw garlic, and 10 pounds of garbanzo beans. Ithaca Hummus can be found at Wegmans and other local retailers.

With graduation approaching, Kirby plans to focus his energy on saturating the Northeast market this year. He eventually hopes to build manufacturing facilities in each corner of the country in order to keep the supply chain short and finished products fresh.

Alex Krakoski started an all-natural jerky company out of his dorm room.

Class of 2016

When Krakoski studied abroad in Switzerland as a high-school senior, he brought his mother's homemade recipe for beef jerky so his friends could have a portable, nutritious, and tasty snack for the ski slopes. He began selling it out of his dorm room, and soon after, Worthy Jerky was born.

Worthy Jerky strips away every unnecessary or artificial ingredient from conventional jerky -- leaving only the steaks, fruits, vegetables, and spices. You can buy the jerky in citrus and spicy BBQ flavours online and at Cornell retail locations.

Krakoski continues growing the Worthy Jerky team and seeking regional retail opportunities. He hopes to earn his MBA at the Cornell Tech Campus.

Jennifer Mandelblatt is an advocate for gender equality who urged Cornell to hire its first female president.

Class of 2017

Cornell will be led by its first female president beginning in July -- and perhaps that's thanks in part to an article Mandelblatt wrote for The Cornell Daily Sun last year.

Mandelblatt is a profound advocate for gender equality in multiple arenas. She continues writing for The Cornell Daily Sun in a column she calls 'Remember the Ladies,' a tribute to first lady Abigail Adams. In student government, she is the vice president of the Industrial & Labour Relations (ILR) student government, the president of the ILR Women's Caucus, and an ambassador for the peer-to-peer sex-education program Consent-Ed.

After interning as a labour-policy intern at the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labour, and Pensions last summer, the sophomore hopes to pursue a career in speech writing and/or labour policy.

Nia Marshall keeps breaking records on the women's basketball team.

Nia Marshall wears #24.

Class of 2017

Marshall, a forward, just won't quit making records. This season she became the first Cornell women's basketball player to score 30 points in a game three times in a season. She posted a monster game against Howard this month, recording a 33-point, 13-rebound double-double.

Marshall, the school's first freshman to be named Ivy League Player of the Week, also became the first Cornell player to earn that title five times in a career since the 2005-2006 season. Also in her freshman season, Marshall had five blocks against Colgate, giving her the third-best performance in Cornell history of blocks in a single game.

Marshall plans to attend dental school after graduation, and she dreams of opening her own practice.

Andrew Pike creates new opportunities for small businesses in Africa.

Class of 2015

Growing up in Uganda, Pike worked in the agriculture sector, which was still recovering from decades of civil war. But in doing so, he saw firsthand how business could improve people's standard of living through job creation and education.

At Cornell, Pike has channeled his studies in business strategy, food policy, tropical cropping systems, and emerging markets into creating opportunities on his home continent. In Nairobi, he helped design a quick-reference guide that insurance agents could easily refer to and translate from when explaining packages to Kenyan pastoralists. In Botswana, he designed a platform for a small-scale pig farm to analyse investment decisions and operational changes so that it could strategize expansion into a market dominated by South African supermarket giants.

After graduation, Pike will start at Mahindra, an Indian multinational automobile manufacturing company, in their Group Strategy office in Mumbai. He dreams of starting his own company in an emerging market.

Kemar Prussien studies the psychology of sick children.

Class of 2015

Prussien has devoted her life to studying sickle cell disease in children -- two of her siblings were born with SCD, a genetic blood disorder that affects the hemoglobin in red blood cells' ability to carry oxygen.

Prussien spent time volunteering at her siblings' pediatric summer camp, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, and launched a lengthy study of how attending pediatric camps had positive psychological effects on kids with SCD, their siblings, and caregivers. She later worked with the camp to assess how it affected the mental health of the kids.

As a research assistant at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Prussien took a similar look at adolescents and young adults who have cancer.

Prussien plans to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at either Duke or Vanderbilt and further her research on the significance of psychosocial influences on health-related quality of life, depression, and anxiety among children and teens with SCD and cancer, and on the secondary suffering of caregivers and siblings.

Jacob Reisch created a line of wireless headphones for ravers and senior citizens.

Class of 2015

In 2012, Reisch founded Party Headphones, a company that rents wireless headsets for silent discos and raves. Now his company has branched out into hearing solutions for seniors.

A new line of headphones, which enhances sound quality for seniors who experience natural hearing loss with age, is now being used by more than 100 clients, including MTV, Viacom, Century 21, Spotify, Twitter, and New York's Museum of Modern Art, among others.

Reisch and his business partner, a childhood friend, raised $US135,000 debt financing to launch the company; the headphone line is already profitable, and Party Headphones is installing pilots with the largest retirement community chain in the United States.

Reisch took three semesters off to grow the company but will graduate this May, and he plans to continue expanding into new markets when he does.

John Oliver Rogers founded a digital game studio that makes beautiful, award-winning games.

Class of 2015

At 16, Rogers built an Android app called Canvas that became, and remains, one of the top photo-editing apps of its kind. Its creation and success inspired Rogers to turn his game-making skills into a full-fledged business.

With Matt Blair and Crystal Ngai, two recent Cornell graduates, Rogers started A Stranger Gravity, a small game studio operating in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., that makes games you can play on your phone. The studio's latest project, Apsis, won the award for most promising indie title at the annual San Francisco gaming conference Casual Connect as well as a few other awards. The beautifully animated game, which involves guiding a flock of birds across the sky, is in beta, and Rogers is working with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music to record a unique score for the game.

'I find games and other interactive media to be the perfect intersection between art and technology,' Rogers told Business Insider. When he graduates in May, he hopes to change how people interact with technology 'to bring enjoyment and beauty into people's lives.'

Rahul Shah is the CEO of a data-analytics company with 10 employees.

Class of 2016

Shah started Speare in May 2013 to help digital news and media sites engage, understand, and connect with their audiences. Shah has won numerous awards and accolades for his company and now has 10 employees, both undergrad and Ph.D. candidates.

As a freshman, Shah also created a wildly successful app called PianoPass. With the idea that a melody is easier to remember than a numbers-and-letters password, PianoPass allows users to secure private information and access it by playing the correct keys on a piano, making it harder for others to hack. The app has been downloaded by more than 1 million people and has been rated No. 1 in multiple countries.

Now a junior, Shah hopes to bring down the learning curve in the field of computer science so that more people can use it to make a dramatic impact in their industries.

Ryan Xue is turning at-risk youth into entrepreneurs.

Class of 2015

In Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where 48% of children live in poverty, Xue works with Father Jim O'Shea at Reconnect -- a non-profit initiative to build opportunities for young men to turn their lives around by launching new businesses and giving them a place to work and develop job skills.

Reconnect hopes to grow five new businesses, partner with 50 existing ones, and engage 500 youths in the project in the next five years. Xue already helped launch one of the new businesses, as well as execute Reconnect's digital strategy, including building the website and mentoring youth in entrepreneurship and web development.

Xue was also a Google Policy Fellow this past summer -- one of fewer than 30 undergrad and graduate students worldwide to be chosen for the fellowship. He spent his most recent semester as a technology and innovation policy intern in the Executive Office of the President at the White House. When he graduates in May, Xue plans to continue working with Father O'Shea, building and growing Reconnect.

Feifan Zhou developed a website that lets musicians crowdfund their own concerts.

Class of 2016

For up-and-coming musicians, a poor turnout at a concert can be financially devastating. If the fans don't turn out for a show, the artist may take a huge loss on the venue booking.

Feifan Zhou's website Tunetap allows those musicians to create listings for potential concerts and tours, and encourages their fans to preorder tickets. Doing so gives the artists peace of mind in knowing they won't lose money on a gig.

Additionally, Tunetap offers every artist specific suggestions on marketing and show locations, based on industry research. Hundreds of fans and artists have registered for the site, which has raised more than $US20,000 to help artists crowdsource concerts.

Zhou, a computer science major, plans to focus on building Tunetap and explore product-management career tracks.

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