Gifts in Action: A Donor Newsletter May 2021

Scholarships open doors to life-changing opportunities for RIT students.

Because of our donors, talented students receive financial aid and scholarships that give them the opportunity to pursue their dreams. With 92% of full-time undergraduate students receiving over $340 million in financial assistance each year, your gifts create new opportunities for success—and an impact that extends far beyond our campus.

The outstanding students profiled in this newsletter show how scholarship support allows RIT to recruit and retain exemplary scholars who will transform the future. Thank you for making a profound impact in their lives!

Kyreen Love headshot

Kyrren Love BS ’21 is a computing and information science student graduating this spring. His enthusiasm for undergraduate experiences inside and outside of the classroom, and his dreams for the future, have been at the heart of his success over the last four years.

Generous donor support gave Kyrren the ability to attend RIT after completing one year at Monroe Community College as part of the 1+3 program. He was awarded the RIT Founders Scholarship, the Hiranandani Family Endowed Scholarship, the RIT Achievement Scholarship, and an additional RIT grant. “The scholarships made a huge difference for me,” he reflected. “I’m the first person in my family to get a college degree, and without that assistance, I wouldn’t have been able to make it happen. I want to extend a huge thank you to the donors and for those that continue to give; it really does make a difference.”

Upon graduation, Kyrren is taking with him a vast portfolio of experience. His student co-op position at the Wegmans corporate office as a Network Support Technician, coupled with his on-campus employment with the RIT Information Technology Services team, has allowed him to incorporate and implement real-world experience into his coursework and two-semester capstone project. Kyrren also participated in RIT’s Men of Color, Honor and Ambition (M.O.C.H.A.) leadership program for several semesters, in which he collaborated with other students to address societal, academic and professional endeavors. He will soon begin a full-time position with Brite Computers in Victor, N.Y., and may return to RIT for a graduate degree in the future. “I’ve gained so much confidence from my time at RIT,” said Kyrren. “You really can do anything, as long as you have support from others and work hard.”

After receiving his bachelor's degree in computing and information science in 2020, New York City native Ian Effendi BS ’20, MS ’22 decided to pursue an online masters in data science. The change in setting is very different than life on campus, but for Ian—a historically active and engaged student—continuing on a diligent and focused path to graduation and beyond comes as second nature.

Ian’s RIT educational career to date is nothing short of impressive. During his time as an undergraduate student, he held co-op positions with the Sesame Workshop and MAGIC Spell Studios, served as treasurer for the Asian American Alliance (2016–2017), public relations officer and webmaster of International House (2016–2017), president of International House (2017–2018), president for the RIT Global Union (2018–2019), community representative at large of Mental Graffiti, and earned membership within both the MCAS Scholars Program and the Honors Program. Ian was honored with the Student Beacon Award in 2020, which recognizes student leaders for their academic achievements and efforts within the realm of diversity and inclusion.

Ian’s academic journey was made possible through multiple scholarships. He is a beneficiary of the Alfred L. and Ruby C. Davis Scholarship, the Bates Merit Scholarship, the Frederick Douglass Scholarship, the Mildred Loeffler Scholarship, the RIT Merit Scholarship and the RIT Presidential Scholarship. “The scholarships were important for me as an undergraduate student,” he stated. “To RIT’s generous donors, thank you for helping to make this possible!”

Over the next year, Ian plans to participate in another co-op and complete his client-centric capstone project. He is open to a wide array of career opportunities and feels that his experiences while at RIT will set him apart from others in his field of study.

Ian Effendi headshot

Elle Holland BS ’23 has flourished since coming to RIT, exhibiting a high level of commitment to her studies and extra-curricular activities. She has a nearly perfect GPA after her first two years of college, while being a member of the Women’s Varsity Swimming and Diving team, pursuing a rigorous course load, and working as a lifeguard on campus.

A swimmer since childhood, Elle was thrilled when she had the opportunity to continue her passion as a student-athlete at RIT. “For me, swimming is like a sense of home, and the team was my immediate family. My teammates have a shared interest in the sport, but come from different backgrounds and study different things. It’s been a great opportunity to meet a diverse group of people and build lasting friendships,” Elle shared.

In the classroom, Elle credits the opportunity to use real-world technologies and hands-on techniques in the lab as some of the primary reasons she loves science. The variety of programs and classes offered within the College of Science has allowed her to explore different career paths and interests, and helped her discover her passion for genetics. She has worked closely with Dr. Gary Skuse, conducting research on how direct-to-consumer genetic testing services impact health care providers’ ability to help their patients understand and interpret the results. Elle hopes to continue to work with Dr. Skuse on future genetics or cancer-related research projects and continue her hands-on learning. This summer, she will be an intern at Regeneron within the QC Virology department, and will continue to build on what she’s learned at RIT while gaining real-world experience.

After receiving her degree from RIT, Elle plans to pursue her master’s degree in genetic counseling and work as a genetic counselor. She reflected on her desire to make a difference in peoples’ lives through her work, just like RIT donors have made a difference in hers. “I am extremely thankful for the generosity of RIT donors. No matter the size of the scholarship, their support is helping to improve my experience here, and making my goals for the future possible.”

Elle Holland headshot
Fabian Sanchez headshot

Starting college amid a pandemic was not how Fabian Sanchez BFA ’24 envisioned he would begin his undergraduate experience, but his first year at RIT was both rewarding and fulfilling. As a film and animation major, and RIT Presidential Scholarship recipient, Fabian keeps busy with his coursework and is also an active member of several clubs on campus including the Animation Club and the Game Development Club. His involvement in these clubs has been one of the most enjoyable experiences during his first year at RIT, bringing his studies to life, and giving him insight into the industry through presentations from outside organizations and professionals in the field. A highlight of his year was participating in Art Jam, a community event where students draw together in a shared digital workspace. At a time when in-person events were limited, Fabian truly enjoyed having the opportunity to collaborate with fellow students in a non-traditional way.

With one year under his belt at RIT, Fabian already has big ideas for the future. One day, he hopes to co-op or intern at Dreamworks to further his studies in animation, and study abroad in Japan to learn more about their unique style of animation and the culture. When asked about how he’d like to use his degree after graduation, Fabian shared a myriad of ideas; from working in animation rigging, the technique used to create the skeletal structure of a 3D model, to bringing more diversity to the world of animation. Specifically, Fabian dreams of “creating an animated series with a diverse cast and crew that features minorities to allow people to see into their worlds.” Fabian shared his gratitude to RIT donors “that provide so many resources for students to take advantage of, and opportunities for us to explore and learn.” He is optimistic about the future ahead of him and looks forward to exploring all that RIT has to offer in the coming years.