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RIT/NTID celebrates growing number of Ph.D. candidates

15 Jul

Madeline Beach in black cap and gown with pink lei around her neck standing next to Peter Hauser in blue cap and gown at podium

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is honoring deaf and hard-of-hearing graduates who will continue on to earn doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Four RIT/NTID students were enrolled in the Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate program— in partnership with University of Rochester and funded by a grant from the National Institute for General Medical Science—that is helping to fill the gap that exists when it comes to deaf and hard-of-hearing students earning doctoral degrees in science disciplines.

Up to three graduate students are selected each year for entry into the Bridges program. Most of their tuition is paid, and they also earn experience—and a paycheck—working in laboratories at RIT and UR. Throughout the program, they meet regularly with mentors who help prepare them for the academic rigors of earning a doctorate, attend at least two professional conferences and complete three research rotations at UR laboratories.

“We are proud of the accomplishments of these students, who are advancing toward their doctoral degrees and making meaningful contributions to scholarly research,” said Dr. Gerard Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “They are role models for deaf and hard-of-hearing undergraduate students interested in STEM disciplines.”

            The students being honored through the Bridges to the Doctorate program:
            • Lorne Farovitch (Vancouver, Wash.), graduated with a master’s degree in environmental science and will attend University of Rochester Medical Center to earn a Ph.D. in translational biomedical science.
            • Madeline Beach (Aurora, Ill.), graduated with a master’s degree in applied statistics and will attend Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to earn a Ph.D. in biostatistics.
            • Jessica Contreras (Eagle River, Alaska), graduated with a master’s degree in experimental psychology and will attend the University of Connecticut to earn a Ph.D. in developmental psychology.
            • Gloria Wink (Rochester, N.Y.) graduated with a master’s degree in environmental science and will attend University of Rochester Medical Center to earn a Ph.D. in epidemiology.

Other RIT/NTID graduates who are continuing on to earn advanced degrees:
            • Natalie Snyder (Rockville, Md.) graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science, with minors in exercise science and psychology, and will attend University of Maryland Eastern Shore to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.
            • Courtney Kellogg (Lake Waukomis, Mo.) graduated with a master’s degree in chemistry and will attend University of Rochester Medical Center to earn a Ph.D. in Pathways of Human Disease.
For more information about the Bridges to the Doctorate program, go to

Gaining Business Knowledge on Co-op

14 Jul

Female student with Caterpillar heavy equipment in the background

Marlet Mancera’s co-op experience as a corporate accounting intern at Caterpiller taught her many things among which are that employers value excellence, commitment and teamwork. Her RIT courses helped her develop skills in Microsoft Office, Excel and other software related to her business and accounting interests. She is sure that her business administration degree and accounting training will guide her to a successful future. 

RIT team wins first place in global challenge against terrorism

29 Jun

Female RIT student holding framed award certificate surrounded by her teammates, also women, all wearing black and white suits.

“It’s Time: ExOut Extremism,” a social media campaign created by Rochester Institute of Technology students, took top prize in a global challenge conducted by the U.S. State Department aimed at finding ways to counter terrorist propaganda online.

The RIT team was the only group from the United States to reach the finals of the P2P: Challenging Extremism competition held on June 27, 2016, and became the first U.S. team to win first place, defeating this year’s other finalist teams from Versalius College in Brussels and Khazar University in Baku, Azerbaijan. To reach the finals, RIT competed against 56 university teams from around the globe. More.

RIT students win award from Apple for game app

23 Jun

RIT students wearing blue t-shirts standing from left to right are Josh Deichmann, Erik Lydick and Patrick Pistor.

A game developed by three Rochester Institute of Technology students has been named one of the most well-designed apps of 2016, according to Apple.

The game app, called Dividr, took home an Apple Design Award on June 13 at the tech giant’s Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco. Apple gives out 12 Apple Design Awards each year—10 to professionally developed apps and two to student apps. The annual awards are meant to recognize independently developed apps that raise the bar in design, technology and innovation. More.

Deaf entrepreneurs on the rise

14 Jun

Deaf entrepreneur Alec Satterly wearing a green shirt seated at a desk, working on a computer.

This article about the growth of Deaf entrepreneurship by W. Scott Atkins, a business studies professor at RIT/NTID and nationally recognized deaf entrepreneurship expert, originally appeared in the Rochester “Democrat & Chronicle” and is reprinted with permission. (Photo credit:  A. Sue Weisler, RIT)

Deaf entrepreneurs on the rise, locally, nationally 

There is a revolution happening in Rochester and all across the United States. The number of deaf people running their own businesses has grown by leaps and bounds. Technological advances have made it possible for these individuals to access networks, customers and suppliers. There are now growing networks of deaf entrepreneurs.

Last weekend, I attended an event for local deaf entrepreneurs sponsored by Convo, a deaf-owned video relay service (VRS), and run by CEO Jarrod Musano, a deaf graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. There were 30-35 deaf business owners at the event, and they were grateful for the opportunity to network. I overheard a deaf realtor say to a deaf business owner who owns several rental properties, “Contact me and let’s see if we can do business together.” Convo has coordinated these types of events in other cities and has invested in a “Deaf Business Ecosystem,” which includes the creation of an online directory that now contains information on more than 250 deaf-owned businesses from all over the country.

Last semester at RIT/NTID, I was involved with a student business competition called the Next Big Idea, sponsored by VRS provider ZVRS, which provided opportunities for students to work on cross-disciplinary teams to innovate new products and services. This year, 15 teams competed for the opportunity to win cash prizes. It is my hope that many of these concepts will develop into full-fledged businesses.

In a class that I teach at RIT/NTID, called Introduction to Entrepreneurship, deaf and hard-of-hearing students create their own business with less than $20 of their own money. One student, Alec Satterly, established a bike repair business and was able to earn $650 during his winter break. Over the next few years, Alec participated in several entrepreneurship efforts on the RIT/NTID campus and has been very successful.

In 2014, his team, Cenify, won the ZVRS Next Big Idea grand prize of $5,000, and that summer, he and his team gained entry into the Saunders Summer Start-up Program, an incubator program at RIT. Cenify has since moved into RIT’s Venture Creations business incubator, which helps companies move to the next phase of their businesses. This is just one illustration of how RIT/NTID fosters entrepreneurship on campus. In addition, RIT/NTID brings alumni who are business owners to campus to speak with students. Alumnus and RIT Trustee Rob Rice, owner and founder of the Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm BayFirst Solutions, presented last year. RIT/NTID also works closely with RIT’s Simone Center for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship in an effort to boost the number of deaf entrepreneurs on campus. Currently, we have two all-deaf teams who are part of the Saunders Summer Start-up Program.

This is only the beginning. There are many deaf and hard-of-hearing people who want to create their own businesses, but they are not sure where to start. It is important that we invest in new infrastructures to make this happen. This requires a collaborative effort by universities, agencies, corporations and other entrepreneurs. With their support, I am optimistic that we will continue to see the growth of a new generation of deaf entrepreneurs, especially here in Rochester.