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Students Launch Gabelli School Innovators’ Podcast

Gabelli100 | Nov 24, 2020 |

By Claire Curry

The first episode of the new Gabelli School Innovators’ Podcast went live on Spotify on Nov. 23, a result of an idea four students had more than a year ago and have collaborated on ever since to bring to life.

Brittany Gesell, BS ’22, Gerald De La Cruz, BS ’22, Alia Benabdeljalil, BS ’22, and Giana Bartko, BS ’22, made up the Gabelli School’s second cohort of Stanford University’s Innovation Fellows (UIF) program, which empowers student teams around the world to become change agents by approaching problems with a design-thinking mindset. The third cohort was named earlier this fall.

“Design thinking is an important mindset for every student because it increases creativity, identifies problems, and triggers solutions,” said Bozena Mierzejewska, Ph.D., professor of communication and media management at the Gabelli School and a Faculty Champion for the UIF program, who has mentored the students throughout the project.

The UIF teams were charged with making projects that would facilitate entrepreneurship or innovation on their home campuses. Gesell, De La Cruz, Benabdeljalil, and Bartko decided to develop a podcast series that showcases change makers within the Fordham community.

“The podcasts dive into stories of change makers and innovators among us,” said De La Cruz, noting that they are students, alumni, and faculty. “We want to amplify these voices on campus and inspire other students who are listening to pursue their ideas.” Gesell agreed, adding that “innovators are everywhere and are not just traditional entrepreneurs.”

In the first episode which went live on Nov. 23, Bartko and De La Cruz interview Alexa Cucchiara BS ’20, a health and wellness advocate, entrepreneur, and author of the book The Power to Persevere. Other guests include Alessandra Ciuffo BS ’22, a marketing major and chef who has appeared on the Food Network with Guy Fiore and Rachel Ray, and Mark Guberti BS ’20, a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and host of three podcasts, including Breakthrough Success.

The cohort comprised two global business majors from Seattle and Rabat, Morocco, a marketing major from the Bronx, and a business administration major from Westchester. Each student brought a different skill set to the table: Benabdeljalil edits the episodes; De La Cruz runs the social media accounts; Bartko prepares guests for the interviews; and Gesell works on distribution.

“Our process in running the podcast is very collaborative, and we work together to recruit guests, host the show, brainstorm questions, and make big-picture decisions,” Gesell said.

The students emphasized that Professor Mierzejewska fulfilled a crucial role in the project.

“The brainstorming and prototyping steps of this process were not easy and when we hit a roadblock, Professor Mierzejewska would reunite us, help us take a step back, and see how to move forward,” said Benabdeljalil. “She became our biggest advocate and helped push our project forward. She taught us to be our own advocates and to have the courage to seek human-centered change where we believe it is needed.”

The one-hour episodes will air monthly on all major podcast platforms through Anchor, including Apple podcasts, Breaker, Castbox, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and RadioPublic. The podcast will also be promoted on Instagram @gabellischoolinnovatorspod and on Twitter @FordhamUif.

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