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Zicklin School of Business Student Awarded Venture for America Fellowship



Sophanie Occean against a brick backdrop wearing a black blazer and green dress

Baruch College student Sophanie Occean (’19), a Digital Marketing major in the Zicklin School of Business, was awarded a fellowship with Venture for America (VFA). The highly competitive fellowship program selects recent graduates from around the country to work in start-up environments and equips them with the skills and resources needed to create jobs in American cities.

Occean is the fourth Baruch College student to receive and accept a VFA fellowship, which involves a rigorous application and selection process during its nationwide recruitment for fellows.

“As I transitioned from an Accounting major to a Digital Marketing major, I looked to my mentor for guidance,” Occean said. “I began researching the program and was inspired by the amount of resources, the networking opportunities, and funding to help you succeed as you develop your ideas.”

“Stepping out of my comfort zone”

The VFA fellowship requires fellows to choose a job opportunity from among nine U.S. cities, such as Cleveland, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh. After making the move to their selected city, fellows are paired with more experienced entrepreneurs to learn alongside them and help grow companies, create jobs, and revitalize those communities.  

Occean welcomes the challenges of a new city and a bold new venture.

“I am honestly looking forward to stepping out of my comfort zone and learning as much as possible about the world of startup and technology,” said Occean. “I am excited about the experience that I’ll gain in an environment where my input will have immediate impact.”

Merging Interests to Create a Company

According to Occean, not every fellow wants to start their own company but she has already set her sights on being an entrepreneur.

“The two venture that I want to explore are within the apparel and nonprofit industry. I would love to bring awareness to particular issues in the world by making a statement through what you wear,” explained Occean. “My second venture includes owning enough capital and networks to fund projects for building communities in neighbors with little to no resources.”

Occean added, “I believe this fellowship will be amazing not because of what it provides, but for the opportunities that it allows for an individual to be their whole self as they bring their creative ideas to the workplace.”

Support for Students

The Office of National & Prestigious Fellowships Advising helps students through the essential steps of applying for fellowships and scholarships, including writing proposals. In recent years, Baruch students have been awarded Fulbright Fellowships, Critical Language Scholarships, Jeannette K. Watson Fellowships, Gilman International Scholarships, among others.

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