All posts by Loriann Macko

RIT/NTID names Keinaths as 2018 Distinguished Alumni

Light skinned man and woman wearing light colored tops with trees in the background.

RIT/NTID has named David and Patricia Keinath of St. Louis, Missouri, as 2018 Distinguished Alumni.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented annually by each of RIT’s nine colleges and the School of Individualized Study to an alumnus/a who has performed at the highest levels of their chosen profession or who has contributed significantly to the advancement and leadership of noteworthy civic, philanthropic or service organizations. It is the highest award an RIT college can bestow upon its alumni.

The Keinaths are both members of RIT/NTID’s SVP class of 1983, with David earning his degree in Industrial Drafting in 1987. He was a founding member of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity at RIT/NTID and is active with the organization’s alumni board.

“David and Patricia are strong supporters of various deaf advocacy groups,” Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean, said. “I’m thrilled that we will be adding them to our list of outstanding alumni who have received the Distinguished Alumni award.”

The awards will be presented during the Presidents’ Alumni Ball 6:30 – 11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19, in the Gordon Field House.

For information on all of RIT’s 2018 Distinguished Alumni award recipients visit this site. For all events and information on Brick City Homecoming & Family Weekend visit here. For a list of RIT/NTID Distinguished Alumni recipients through the years, visit the website.

Cortez Harris completes Dale Carnegie Training, earns award

Dark skinned male wearing blue shirt and grey tie holding clear glass award with Dale Carnegie backdrop.

RIT/NTID student Cortez Harris, an Applied Liberal Arts major from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, recently completed the Dale Carnegie Customer Satisfaction Training program in Rochester, New York, and earned the organization’s “The Future is Bright” award at a ceremony in July.

Harris became involved with Dale Carnegie as part of a training with RIT’s Men of Color, Honor and Ambition (MOCHA) last fall and spring semesters.

“The first semester was a three-day course, while the second semester was a five-day, high impact immersion course that trained my MOCHA brothers and myself in public speaking, leadership, confidence, presentation skills, conflict resolution and other skills,” Harris said. “I won the outstanding performance award during the three-day course for my ability to show confidence, ambition and hard work, and I won the high achievement award for showing improvement in all areas of the program during the five-day course.”

Dale Carnegie programs provide trainings to improve individual and business performance.

“The trainers at Dale Carnegie saw my motivation and dedication to work hard and improve myself and my willingness to encourage and motivate others around me and decided to honor me with the ‘Future is Bright’ award at their 5th annual customer appreciation awards event,” Harris said. “Now that I am a Dale Carnegie graduate, I can influence people within my community who may feel fearful to reach for the stars or to break the rules. I can now teach them that rules are meant to be broken—that it is perfectly fine to step outside of the box for a moment and to redirect your vision.”

Attending the ceremony were RIT/NTID Director of Student Life Tim Albert and RIT/NTID Director of Diversity and Inclusion Stephanie Albert.

"It was an honor for me and Tim to attend the Dale Carnegie awards program,” Stephanie Albert said. “We congratulate Cortez for receiving ‘The Future is Bright’ award. He is an optimistic, hard-working, goal-oriented and highly motivated leader who inspires students and others toward a bright and successful future.”

 

RIT named among the nation’s ‘Best 384 Colleges’

Rochester Institute of Technology is considered one of the nation’s best universities for undergraduate education, according to The Princeton Review. The education-services company features RIT in the just-published 2019 edition of its annual book "The Best 384 Colleges." Only about 15 percent of America’s 2,500 four-year colleges and only four colleges outside the U.S. are profiled in the book, which is one of The Princeton Review’s most popular guides.

Students cited RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf as “providing amazing accommodations for deaf and hard-of-hearing students who attend the university, including notetaking, interpreters and CPrint technology.” More.

RIT students learn value of entrepreneurship through Simone Center, Saunders College, NTID joint program

Manufacturing machine with small blue round disks.

Rochester Institute of Technology student Jim Heaney started his rapid manufacturing and prototyping business when he was just 14 years old. Five years later, and with the guidance of RIT’s Saunders Summer Startup Program, Heaney and his team are hoping a successful pitch to potential investors will take their business to the next level.

Heaney’s business, Venator Technologies, is among 15 student start-up companies in the program, which encourages multidisciplinary student teams to jumpstart their ventures at the small-business launch pad in hopes of kick starting real companies. It culminates with Investor Demo Night, which will be held at 6 p.m. on Aug. 8 in Ingle Auditorium, Student Alumni Union. A networking reception immediately follows. The event is free and open to the public.

Creating a backpack that suits the packing needs of today’s gamers, solving mass refrigeration concerns on Sub-Saharan farms, and developing a wearable device and mobile app that helps veterans transition into civilian life are a few of the uniquely innovative early-stage business ideas created by student teams during this year’s program.

The program is sponsored by Saunders College of Business and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and is hosted by the Albert J. Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.          

Throughout the summer, each of the startups is offered a stipend, a team expense fund, working space in Institute Hall and support from RIT faculty, assigned mentors and community business leaders.

Heaney, a second-year industrial engineering major from Montgomery, N.Y., says that his experience with the Saunders Summer Startup Program has helped him develop confidence in his business and has moved his team ahead of the pack.

“Even though my business is somewhat established, this program has provided my team with details on the finer points of business including access to countless business contacts, information on marketing and research and development funding, and tips on effective public speaking and pitching to investors, which are all so invaluable to running a successful business,” said Heaney. “Thanks to the top-notch mentoring that we’ve received from our entrepreneurship coaches and the staff at The Construct at RIT, we have learned how to create a solid foundation for our business.”

This summer’s student teams are:

  • Sniffy: A mobile app that improves the relationship between humans and animals by providing incentives for dog walking, and information on pet stores, groomers and other dog owners.
  • Op-Sixx: A support network comprised of wearable devices and a mobile app that connects veterans and their families to help them transition into civilian life.  
  • OurDiet App: An easy-to-follow direct resource offering personalized information based off of an individual’s self-described disease database.
  • Phase Innovations LLC: Provides novel stack-based technologies for energy conversion and storage applications.
  • TERP (two student teams): Aims to become a central marketplace for sign language interpreting services, making it easier for deaf and hearing people to submit interpreter requests.
  • PAL: A wearable technology company that empowers the autism spectrum disorder community with early notification of triggered meltdowns.
  • QuickTix: Allows small, independent theaters and school districts to publish events, sell tickets and promote on social media. Immediate feedback is provided on sales numbers, money earned and seats filled. 
  • Project Object Tracker: Provides tracking software that enhances customer service by evaluating the position of customers in retail stores and calculating whether the customer has been waiting too long for service.
  • Venator Technologies: A multi-service manufacturing company utilizing 3D printing and laser cutting to serve small businesses and individual customers.
  • SerVu: Provides a platform that connects bar owners with potential bar employees that fit the culture and style of the establishments. 
  • Hive Refrigeration: Works to solve the issue of mass refrigeration and the reduction of food waste on Sub-Sharan farms for those lacking access to cold storage refrigeration.
  • Backpack for Gamers: Creates a backpack that suits the needs of modern-day gamers.
  • VeeTV: A video streaming service that offers programming with sign-language content
  • Tiger CGM: A glucose monitor designed to provide comfort, freedom, confidence, privacy and accuracy.

For more information on the Saunders Summer Startup, go to www.rit.edu/research/simonecenter/saunders-summer-start-program.

RIT/NTID Dyer Arts Center “Cultivating Connections” exhibit seeking artists

Rows of narrow rectangles in a variety of colors. Part of the Dyer Art Collection.

Calling all local artists: The Dyer Arts Center at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is now accepting submissions for its exhibit “Cultivating Connections: Growing Communities in the Flower City.” The exhibit, which will showcase artwork that represents our local communities, is open to artists living within the Monroe, Wayne, Ontario, Orleans, Livingston and Genesee counties. The submission deadline is Aug. 31, and artists will be notified by Sept. 14 if their submissions have been accepted. The exhibit runs Nov. 2–Dec. 15.

“Rochester is a city full of diverse communities and art is a great way to cultivate connections among communities,” said Tabitha Jacques, Dyer Arts Center director. “Initially, this exhibition was going to showcase local deaf artists. I thought about how Dyer Arts Center has really become familiar among deaf people, but it isn’t as familiar among Rochester’s hearing community. This exhibit has a dual purpose: to bring the Rochester community to Dyer Arts Center, and to connect deaf and hearing artists with one other.”

Artists can submit up to five images of their artwork for consideration, which must include an artist statement and image description with title, year, medium and dimensions. According to Jacques, the artwork must be representative of the artists’ community, which can include, but isn’t limited to geography, religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, or LGBTQIA+ identification, or a combination of these.

For details on how to submit artwork, go to https://goo.gl/Bk33H9 or email Jacques at DyerArtsCenter@gmail.com.

RIT/NTID alumni meet again, and love blossoms

Light skinned male and female hugging wearing winter coats on top of a snowy mountain.

RIT/NTID's Brianna Schlitt ’11, ’13 (psychology, professional studies) and Brynjar Leifsson ’11, ’13 (multidisciplinary studies, deaf education) thought it was love at first sight when they met on the RIT campus in 2009. But they later learned they had attended the same elementary school, shared some of the same teachers and even ate lunch together there.

“People don’t believe that we had met when we were little kids and then met again 15 years later,” said Schlitt. “It’s pretty surreal.”

Schlitt and Leifsson were married on July 13 on Long Island, N.Y.

Schlitt was in kindergarten when she went to a school in East Meadow, N.Y., and Leifsson was in second grade. The two were from different parts of Long Island but at that time, Schlitt said, some of the deaf and hard-of-hearing children attended one school.

They were only together for one year. After kindergarten, Schlitt transitioned to the public school in her district.

Fast forward to 2009 and Schlitt decided she wanted to transfer to RIT after attending James Madison University and Long Island University Post. Leifsson had been a student at RIT since 2005.

Schlitt was visiting RIT and attended a party with a friend. Leifsson was there.

“How do you like somebody after meeting them for an hour?” Schlitt said. But when she ran into Leifsson again two days later, she knew she was smitten. So was Leifsson.

“I first saw her and I thought she is the one,” he said. “But I didn’t think it was possible. I can’t get someone this beautiful.”

They exchanged numbers and kept in touch over the summer before they were both on campus.

A year later they attended a meeting about deaf and hard-of-hearing services on Long Island and they ran into an audiologist who knew them both.

“She was like, ‘How do you guys know each other. You were in the same school when you were little and I had both of you guys,’” Schlitt said. “She couldn’t believe how life brought us back together.”

The couple has been together ever since.

Leifsson works as an American Sign Language teacher on Long Island and Schlitt is a lawyer who will begin a job later this year as an attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Suffolk County.

Leifsson proposed on April 13, 2017, when they were visiting his native Iceland. He popped the question at the top of the Snaefellsjökull glacier overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

“I had to go over the top,” Leifsson said. “She had been waiting eight long years for me to propose. I had to make it amazing, and it’s my favorite place to be.”

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, is it really happening?’ Of course, I said, ‘Yes,’” Schlitt said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Study abroad experience highlight for hospitality student

Light skinned male with short brown hair wearing hoodie, tan jacket and backpack in front of a world map.

RIT/NTID's Connor Draughn wanted to get out of his comfort zone and try something new, so the hospitality and tourism management major decided to spend a semester studying at RIT Croatia.

“I learned a lot about myself,” said Draughn, who is from Raleigh, N.C. “For sure it is a highlight of my time at RIT.”

Draughn was helped by the Constellation Brands Study Abroad Fund, which supports hospitality students who want to study in Croatia.

Ginny Clark, senior vice president of Public Affairs for Constellation Brands, said given the importance of global learning, Constellation felt that this opportunity for RIT students would be a meaningful way to give back.

“Today’s business world is global—and the key to a successful global business is building strong, trusted relationships,” said Clark ’06, ’08 (hospitality and service management, service leadership and innovation). “Constellation believes that creating this scholarship opportunity for students to study abroad supports the experiential educational efforts that RIT sees as a critical component to a student’s education.”

Supporting hospitality students, Clark added, made sense for Constellation Brands, which is a global beverage alcohol company—but at its core is a hospitality company.

“It was quite natural that Constellation would see a strong connection with our philanthropy and the School of International Hospitality and Service Innovation,” she said.

Draughn, who got his associate degree in hospitality and services management from NTID in 2016, started pursuing a bachelor’s degree last year. He spent the fall semester of 2017 in Dubrovnik, Croatia, taking hospitality and tourism classes. He is minoring in history, he said, so he enjoyed living in the historic city and learning about the culture and the country.

After he graduates from RIT, Draughn said, he plans to pursue a master’s degree in hospitality and tourism. He hopes to one day become a travel coordinator for a professional sports team or for a Fortune 500 company.

The study abroad experience had such an impact on Draughn that after he returned, he got a job as a Global Ambassador coaching other RIT students about opportunities abroad.

“I like helping people,” Draughn said. “I like telling other students about my experience so they will think about doing something different while they are in school.”

RIT Student Government president encourages community involvement

Light skinned male with brown hair wearing button down shirt and jacket holding a microphone and raising his other hand.

Bobby Moakley, Rochester Institute of Technology’s new Student Government president, thinks every student should feel welcomed at RIT, regardless of what their interests are, where they are from or their beliefs.

That’s one goal Moakley, a fourth-year environmental science major from Boston, and Vice President Corinne Mendieta, a fifth-year mechanical engineering technology major from Olney, Md., have for the coming year. They also plan to make sure students have the tools they need to succeed, including transportation, resources such as the free textbook library and finding funding for projects.

“We want to enhance the culture of creativity and innovation at RIT,” Moakley said. “We want to enable students to create what they came to RIT for, whether it is artwork or a new medicine.”

Other ideas planned for this year include adding two more vans for club and organization use, a bike sharing program in the fall, and a charging station installed in the Student Government office to encourage students to drop by if they need to charge a phone or laptop. Free popcorn will still be available to visitors.

And he wants to have more direct communication with student organizations representing international students, ALANA students, student athletes, LGBTQ students, and deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

“Student Government never had a formal working relationship with them. I’d like to work closely with those representative student organizations,” he said. “They are representatives for entire groups of demographics on campus.”

Two years ago, Moakley first joined Student Government as the cross-registered senator from RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and last year served as Student Government vice president.

He’s not worried about representing more than 18,000 students on RIT campuses or giving a talk in front of thousands of people.

“I’ve taken a few public speaking courses, so I know how to maneuver the nerves,” he said.

Born deaf, Moakley received his first cochlear implant and began learning sign language before he was 2. He knows there’s a wide range of communication preferences on campus among the students supported by NTID.

“People should feel comfortable using what communication they prefer, and everyone should respect people’s choices,” he said. “That’s one reason I wanted to come to RIT, there is this open and accepting feeling and a good mixture of deaf and hearing students. Here is a place I could have both of those.”

Moakley is the third deaf student to become RIT’s Student Government president. The first two were Lizzie Sorkin in 2006-2007, and Greg Pollock 2010-2012.

Moakley is uncertain what he’ll do after he graduates. He’d love to become a photojournalist for National Geographic, or work with the United Nations in international affairs.

“People now are unwilling to cooperate with other countries and are letting imaginary boundaries dictate the way they live,” he said. “How do you expect to fix an issue when you don’t talk with the people living next to you? We’re all living on one planet.”

He’s spending his summer working on a fellowship for Project HOPE (Health Outcomes Through Participation, Education and Engagement) and the Genesee Valley Land Trust, helping residents in northeast Rochester make connections to improve their community and finding ways to preserve the environment.

His great uncle was Joe Moakley, a popular Boston Congressman for 28 years who died in 2001 and had several buildings in Boston named after him. Bobby Moakley said he hasn’t ruled out a political career in the future. “I guess there’s a little inspiration from him behind it.”

He said he uses time management effectively to juggle his work, classes, volunteering and Student Government responsibilities. He usually has several meetings a day and stays up late into the night to make sure everything gets done.

“Some days I may be tired and feel fed up with it, but then I realize I love all the work I’ve been doing,” he said. “I couldn’t think of anything better I could be doing with my time.”

Regardless of what lies ahead for him, Moakley wants to make sure he leaves behind “a Student Government that is efficient for students in the future.” He hopes more students decide to become active by joining a committee or attending just one of the meetings the Student Government cabinet holds from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. each Friday in the Bamboo Room, beginning the last week in August. The meetings are open to everyone.

“I hope students feel they can contact Student Government if they have anything on their mind,” Moakley said. “No issue is too small.”

RIT included in ‘Fiske Guide to Colleges’ 2019 edition

Blue and green oval with text that reads:

Rochester Institute of Technology is among the universities included in the 2019 edition of "Fiske Guide to Colleges."

The 2019 edition highlights RIT’s “big focus on connecting students with careers” and says RIT is “strong in anything related to computing, art and design and engineering.” The guide this year also cites RIT’s flexible general education program, which has added more than 80 academic minors within the past few years. More.