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David Burgess, M.Phil., MFA
Founder, Advisor, Advocate

For three decades, David has been a serial social entrepreneur and a student of social innovation, having worked in business, academia, the nonprofit sector, and the arts.

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Samer Suleman
Coach

Samer Suleman is a freshman at the University of Iowa, pursuing a degree in education. Some of Suleman’s favorite activities include writing, reading memoirs, fashion, and visiting local eateries.

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Cameron Cook
Coach

Cameron is a journalist, photographer, feminist and student at Northwestern University, studying Psychology and American History, with a focus on identity politics in the 20th century.

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Born in Chicago, raised in Evanston and St. Louis, Cameron moved to Iowa City in 2001. She graduated with high honors from Iowa City West High School in 2017 and is set to graduate from Northwestern in 2021.

When she wasn’t in school, Cameron played violin. She participated in two orchestras and played first violin in a quartet, which she also managed for their handful of paying gigs. She also swam competitively for seven years, until she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, at which point she stopped participating in organized sports.

Cameron spent three years on the staff of West Side Story as a reporter, photographer and videographer. It was as a journalist that she developed an interest in social justice and equality, after writing at length about Islamophobia, white privilege and K-12 public school funding. She currently works on the staff of the Daily Northwestern, Evanston’s only daily newspaper.

In her free time, she curates a health and lifestyle blog where she shares original recipes, travel photos and living life with an autoimmune disorder and depression. Cameron also works for an Evanston nonprofit, where she does communications and writes grant proposals. She plans on continuing in the nonprofit sector as long as necessary, until she feels as if she’s made a net positive impact on the world.

Samer also has an incalculable love for pears!

As a recent graduate of West High school, Samer is fortunate to have participated in the various clubs and opportunities the school had to offer. He has acted for SPIT (Student Produced Innovative Theater), co-led the Truth Squad club, participated in the annual IMMAW (I’ll Make Me a World) Black History Month competition, served as a teacher assistant during MLK day sessions, served as a peer mentor for ELL students, and participated in two Walk It Out cultural fashion shows.

Samer emigrated to the United States in 2009, having lived in Eritrea, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia beforehand. As a first generation American, Suleman shares a similar background with a demographic of students that this program seeks to help. He, too, comes from a family background that lacked the tools and knowledge to assist him through the college application process.

During his high school years, Suleman was able to speak with a great deal of students of all backgrounds— be it through club activities, focus groups, or regular dialogue— and he has come to learn of their fears and lack of knowledge regarding higher education as a result. He attributes his successes in finding a good and affordable college to the adults in both his personal and educational life, and he is very excited to be involved in a coaching program that has the potential to do the same for others.

Outside of academics, Samer can be found volunteering at Oaknoll retirement center, flipping burgers at Culver’s, or canvassing for the Zach Wahls campaign.

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Gordana Lenert, Ph.D.
STEM Advisor

With a nearly 40-year career in research, project management, and policy, working in Europe, Canada, and the United States, Gordana brings her vast and varied expertise to her mentorship of young people interested in STEM fields.

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She has worked for many years in academia, government health institutions, and private industry, including at respected institutions such as the University of California-San Diego, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the University of Ottawa Loeb Health Research Institute, Ottawa Life Science and Technology Park, Centre for Biologics and Gene Therapy Directorate and for Vaccine Evaluation in Ottawa, Belgrade University and the University of Novi Sad.

She earned her B.Sc. in Molecular Biology and Physiology, and her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Immunology and Allergology from the University of Belgrade. Seeking to broaden her skills, she completed a second M.Sc. in Bioinformatics, under the supervision of Stanford Professor Dr. Michel Dumontier, and granted through the University of Ottawa.

Her areas of expertise include immunology, antibodies and vaccines, human genetics and genomics, pharmacology, molecular biology, microbiology/infection, stem cell research, bioinformatics, and genetic engineering.

She has taught courses at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate levels in areas including immunology, allergology, bioinformatics, and research methods (NCBI databases, PubMed, and ISI Web of Science).

Her husband Dr. Petar Lenert is Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and has published extensively, including in the journal Nature. Her sons are also very accomplished. Dr. Andrej Lenert is an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan, and Dr. Alexander Lenert is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.

In her free time, Gordana enjoys reading, cooking, gardening and swimming, and has been a volunteer swim-referee for many years.

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Jadvyga Gerasimovic
Virtual Team Application Support
I.T. Support

Having earned degrees in Computer Science and Russian Literature, Jadvyga has more than two decades of experience working in computer consulting and support in Europe and the United States. She has worked in the corporate world, government, and academia.

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Charlie Lam-Lu
Coach

A Vietnamese-American born in Iowa City to a refugee father and immigrant mother, Charlie is majoring in political science and economics at Macalester College.

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Charlie's primary interest is international immigration policy, with particular mind to the role that integration plays in the overall success of the immigrant population. Many of his experiences have been shaped by the ever-growing rift his parents feel between themselves and the community at large. The limited support that his parents found upon arriving in the US manifested in a lifelong struggle to educate themselves and guide their family towards a more secure future. As a result, Charlie has always been aware of the economic challenges faced by immigrant populations. He understands too well the feeling that a peaceful moment is always too far away and the lifeline that an education represents.

Charlie is well situated to understand the challenges that many students face in school and the college application process. Much of his time in high school was spent taking courses with only the most general sense of his goals and no real assistance in exploring them. His parents, owing to their limited English and still more limited understanding of the school system, were unable to help him. It was only as high school neared its end that he was sufficiently organized to reach out to people that could provide some guidance. By then, it was almost too late to engage in any effective way. His goal with SICC is to make it easier for students to explore their options without feeling that they lack the resources to do so effectively.

He played trombone in high school and volunteered at the VA hospital. Charlie has also been a vendor at the local Farmer’s Market for the past nine years.

She joined the Information Technology department at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in 2000, and has provided support to clients, departments, and even surgeons in the O.R. on Mac and PC ever since.

In 2018, Jadvyga was elected to a three-year term on the University of Iowa Staff Council, which, along with Faculty Senate, are the university’s main governing bodies. She represents the nearly 900 staff employees working in information technology. In 2019, she was elected by Staff Council members to the Executive Committee as an At-Large Member. She is advocating for transparency, accountability, and empowerment of their constituency of 7,000 staff members across the university.

She has been involved in the non-profit world for many years. She co-founded the first environmental youth organization in Lithuania in 1996, and was also among the core group at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics that worked to build The Preemie Project, a social entrepreneurship organization that provides free hand-knitted hats, blankets, and other items to families with children in NICUs across the region. The project has been replicated nationwide.

She is the mother of two teenage sons and is proud of their creativity and success. Jadvyga speaks five languages fluently: English, Polish, Lithuanian, Russian, and Belorussian, and understands German, Czech, Slovak, and Ukranian.

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Matthew Rossman, J.D.
Advisor

Professor Matthew Rossman is a nationally-recognized expert in social entrepreneurship and non-profit organizations. A graduate of New York University School of Law and Miami University, he has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and University of Baltimore.

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In 2004, he returned to his home town of Cleveland and joined the law faculty at Case Western Reserve University.

Matt began his career in private practice with the New York offices of Latham & Watkins and Christy & Viener. His practice areas included corporate, securities, real estate, tax and nonprofit law.

At Case, Matt coordinates and teaches the Community Development Clinic, through which third-year law students provide pro bono corporate counsel and transactional law services to community-based nonprofit organizations and social entrepreneurs in the Cleveland area. Matt also created and teaches the Urban Development Lab. The Lab conducts legal policy analysis and prepares white papers on challenging issues arising from efforts to redevelop and revitalize urban areas. Matt has published several articles and papers exploring the relationship between tax law and the trajectory of urban areas.

He is excited to lend his experience to providing guidance and mentorship to young people interested in social entrepreneurship, community development, and especially in areas related to the law.

A proud father of three and husband of nineteen years, Matt enjoys spending time with his family. In his free time, he also strums the guitar around campfires, plays pickup football, baseball, and basketball, and explores the history of Cleveland neighborhoods. He is also an avid Cleveland sports fan, which, over the decades, has taught him great patience and perseverance.
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Annette Badamy
Advisor
School Liaison
Vocational and Special Ed Coordinator

Annette has made significant impacts in education and social entrepreneurship over a thirty-year career, and she has been a leader in teaching, mentoring, and advocacy at the primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels as a professional and as a parent.

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She believes that people with all abilities should be involved in social entrepreneurship work, and that everyone has a role to play in creating a more equitable, accessible, and sustainable society. College may not be for everyone, but everyone can find their vocation and turn that into a career, and she firmly believes that social entrepreneurship is the best way to make that happen..

She is a social entrepreneur and owner of the Columbus, Ohio educational advocacy organization Two Birds Educational Services.

Annette graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.S in vocational education and an M.Ed. in special education. She taught for 26 years in rural, urban and suburban school districts and has made a profound impact on the lives of hundreds of students and families she has served.

Over the years, Annette recognized that learning occurs when people are in a good place emotionally, and when they are not, learning is hindered at best, or impossible at worst. Annette’s passion for learning and for supporting the emotional development of her students, as well as her commitment to focus more on their emotional needs, drew her to make a career change. She resigned her tenured position in Worthington Schools and is currently earning her second Master’s degree in the highly-ranked Social Work program at The Ohio State University.

Annette continues to leverage her expertise in education and make a significant impact in many current and future classrooms. She now serves as one of three staff evaluators of all student teachers in Special Education at The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology. Her responsibilities include evaluating, mentoring, and supporting student teachers as they work towards graduation and teacher certification.

Annette has served in leadership positions for many years. She represented over 500 of her colleagues as a member of the elected school union representatives conducting negotiations with the Worthington School Board. She also served as a representative to statewide Ohio Education Association conferences and general assemblies. She is an advocate for tolerance, supporting LGBTQIA efforts and has participated in many fundraising and advocacy events. As a teacher, Annette has supported her students who are a part of this community and helped to educate other students and adults.

As part of her degree program, she is also working half-time at one of the most respected and largest non-profits in the midwest: Ohio Guidestone, a comprehensive social services organization that has served hundreds of thousands of people over its 150-year history. Annette is also a loving mother of two college-aged daughters of whom she is extremely proud. Among the ways Annette ensures her own self-care are hiking, backpacking, camping, cooking, working out, biking, photography, snow skiing, rock wall climbing, and mindfulness meditation. She has competed in a number of races, including the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Half Marathon.

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Andrew Burgess
Marketing and Client Support

A rigorously trained younger brother since the age of zero, Andrew has experienced ups and downs throughout his life that have helped him gain insight. On top of high school classes, he is taking a full course load in philosophy and cognitive science at the University of Iowa.

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Born and raised in Iowa City, he has shown his skills in writing, music, and photography. Beginning his classical training at the age of four, he studied under Doris Preucil on violin and Professor Rene Lecuona on piano.

He also studied vocal performance with Shari Rhodes and Nancy MacFarlane, and during that time performed in operas with the University of Iowa and Cedar Rapids opera theatres, as well as local productions of musical theater and theater. He helped start a greenhouse gas reduction project which received national awards and earned him an invitation to the White House. After winning multiple state, regional and national competitions in piano and violin, he decided that improvisation was more interesting and moved on to learn jazz and indie rock, and began to work seriously on creative writing.

He also picked up a guitar in middle school, though hasn’t yet grown out his hair or gotten a neck tattoo. He’s been a gigging musician since age 15, and performs on keyboard, backing vocals, and percussion the local band Slackmaster Smooth. You can find his name on numerous Iowa City cycling leaderboards on Strava. He hopes to have his novel — the first of a trilogy — published before he graduates high school.

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Hae-Joo Yoon
Coach

Born in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in Hawai’i, Minnesota, and Iowa, Hae-joo Yoon is a Korean-American language and culture enthusiast studying at the University of Iowa.

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She is fluent in English, Korean and Japanese, and intermediate in her Chinese abilities. She has studied abroad in Tokyo and Beijing. Hae-joo has also played the violin for eleven years and the piano for nine. She has taken part in 7 orchestras and honor orchestras, including All-State and PSSO at the Preucil School of Music.

Since she was young, Hae-joo struggled with understanding math, and received tutoring in math during high school. She went on to take AP Calculus and tutored a 5th grader in math herself, teaching until her tutee graduated from the 6th grade as a student placed in an accelerated math program.

As the first family member to apply for college in America, Hae-joo faced difficulties in understanding the college application process. Her parents, who went through a very different application process in Korea, could not help her with Common App, and she spent much more time confused than not. She hopes to help others so that they don’t go through the same difficulties in obtaining help and information as she did.

In her free time, she enjoys drawing, videography, reading books on mythologies, and learning more about Korean folklore and history. She advocates for diversity, equality, and the exchange of cultures in America.

 
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Daniel Burgess
Coach

Iowa City-raised and New York City-based singer-songwriter, writer, and producer Daniel Burgess is an astrophysics major at Columbia University. He has self-produced an indie rock album, Stay the Light. His music and photography can be found at danielburgess.com.

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Daniel has composed jazz charts for combos and big bands as well as performed at nationally prominent venues such as Gabe's Oasis and the Iowa Arts Festival's main stage. First making his mark as a kid with classical piano, violin, and opera, he later decided that his heart wasn’t quite that antiquated, and on a whim switched to rock and jazz fusion.

Along with music, he did significant work in STEM fields, and this split between scientific and artistic interests ended up becoming the topic of his Common App personal essay. He was the 1st place winner of the 2014 international DuPont Challenge, winning with his theorized transparent thin-film solar cell. This led to him authoring two entries for Encyclopaedia Britannica, one on thin-film solar cells and another on building-integrated photovoltaics. He has also assisted graduate student research into superhydrophobic surface characteristics at the Energy Transport Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Daniel has participated in both the Iowa All-State Orchestra and All-State Jazz Band and has been a National Merit Finalist, often-hired local musician, and USAG-certified gymnastics instructor. While his varied accomplishments lengthened his resume, he credits his success throughout the college application process to the people around him. He was fortunate to have family and friends to push him and both facilitate and refine his application to a sufficiently competitive level. At the same time, the lack of information and help for so many of his friends was a painful awakening, and he is driven and committed to help high school students with college admissions and bring success to their careers and make a positive difference to this world.

Surfing is his favorite sport, photography his favorite hobby, and he also loves mountaineering, snowboarding, and freerunning.

 
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Diego Rivera
Coach

Born and raised in a culture full of compassion and empathy, Diego Rivera is ultimately grounded in his passion for people. He is studying business analytics and philosophy on full scholarship at the University of Iowa.

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Diego grew up in a bilingual household. Both his parents immigrated from Mexico to Iowa. His mom worked at the University of Iowa Cultural Diversity and Enrichment Center, which provided him with an exposure to diverse people from different cultural, linguistic and economic backgrounds.

Beginning in 10th grade, Diego took notice of his passion for linguistics and culture in his AP Spanish course. During the course, he took the opportunity to live in Spain with a Spanish family for a week and explore the country. Everything from comparing the Mexican and Spanish foods to family culture among the two, ultimately began Rivera’s pursuit in learning about people and their stories.

Following his overseas experience, Diego decided to begin a new journey, this time in Asia. From the minute he realized Chinese was an option at Iowa City West High School, he jumped at the opportunity. Diego took two semesters of Chinese language and culture and plans to take two more his senior year.

He plans to major in political science with a focus in international relations, and wants to eventually study abroad in China. His ultimate goal is to work in immigrant policy and education.

 
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Eman Elsheikh
Coach

A Sudanese immigrant at the age of two, Eman Elsheikh is studying chemical engineering on a pre-med track at the California Institute of Technology.                           

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Eman plans to continue her education by pursuing a combined MD/PhD. In high school, she was involved in various activities such as theatre, robotics, student government, and newspaper. These activities allowed her to further develop her passion for STEM and also find creative outlets through mediums such as music, video, and acting. She hopes to be able to continue participating in similar activities in college.

Eman loves to study the sciences, but she is also largely interested in language and philosophy. She is bilingual in English and Arabic, and is learning German and Mandarin Chinese. Through the Post Secondary Enrollment option at the University of Iowa, she was able to pursue her interests by taking two linguistics courses and a philosophy course. Not only did she greatly enjoy learning the material in these classes, but she found she had a knack for understanding the concepts discussed. Linguistics, in particular, fascinates her because it gives one the ability to break down seemingly abstract concepts in language into almost mathematical terms that can be more formally reasoned with. She hopes to be able to continue studying these subjects independently.

Determined to defy the stereotypes set for women of color in academia, Eman continuously strives for excellence by taking the most rigorous classes available. She hopes to serve as a role model for such groups that are traditionally underrepresented in higher education.

 
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Ned Furlong
Coach

Ned Furlong is a musician, poet, and student at Princeton University, studying Art History and Jazz Performance. Within Art History, he specializes in American postwar art. Ned was born in Iowa City to a farming family. 

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His father farmed far outside the city, and he came to Iowa City seeking political and social engagement. Ned’s parents, while not musicians themselves, exposed him to classical music and performances while he studied piano. His mother insisted on bringing him to art museums years before he showed any interest in art history.In high school, Ned developed performance skills on the French horn, and diversified his piano playing to include jazz music. Beyond performance, he began to delve deeply into a variety of creative media, studying orchestral scores and modernist literature, tearing them apart for their deepest meanings. Last of all, and most strongly, he investigated visual art, where his visual analysis skills bridged genre and time to provide compositional insight.

During this time, Ned also suffered through a number of subjects about which he didn’t care nearly as much, but in which he performed adequately. He faced the challenge of developing interests that weren’t represented course-wise at his high school, independently pursuing studies in Art History. He also took courses in the subject from the University of Iowa. He graduated from Iowa City West High School in 2017 with high honors, and is set to graduate from Princeton University in 2021.

At Princeton, Ned has extended his abilities in the field of creative writing, as a poet published in the school’s Arch and Arrow writing magazine. He has also engaged in social reform through SPEAR (Students for Prison Education and Reform), in which he establishes correspondence with persons imprisoned in solitary confinement. At Princeton, Ned has also performed with the Creative Large Ensemble and with the Princeton Sinfonia, in addition to playing in his own band, Mellophone. In the future, Ned aims to apply his analytic skills wherever he sees most fit, whether it be in the Art History field, an NGO, or in a business environment.