Category: Undergraduate Student Profiles
You could, just maybe, say that Max Alexander is well-rounded.
Max currently holds the title of consultant analyst on the Information Technology Services (ITS) team at SMG, where he is the principle designer and developer for the School’s official Intranet website (SMGWorld), as well as creator of an advanced software tutorial suite for faculty, students, and staff. At the same time, he’s starting a business focused on high-end 3D and 2D design and animation whose original product Zink Pulse Minarai, he explains, is “3D motion capture software in OpenGL for polymorphic engine deployment.”
He’s also a musician who has performed at Carnegie Hall and was named First Place Medalist for the Drum Corps International Partners Academic Award Contest. Oh, and he’s fluent in French and Mandarin Chinese (plus proficient in Japanese and Kazakh).
So in his downtime, what’s a guy like Max to do but try to be productive? This has led him to his latest role as project programmer, web designer and developer, and marketing designer for the new startup Kamuu, founded by SMG Information Systems professors Stephanie Watts and George Wyner.
When Professors Watts and Wyner met Max in the SMG classroom, they were impressed with his energy, intelligence, and entrepreneurial spirit. So when the SMG junior learned of their new technology initiative and wanted to get involved, they figured there was a good chance he could bring some value to the table. Kamuu’s first product, in whose development Max is playing an integral role, is the Kamuu iPhone app.
“Kamuu’s new app is a barcode-scanning mobile application that allows you to use your power as a consumer to change the way companies spend their money,” Alexander explains. “Scanning a product with Kamuu gives you clear and concise information about the company that produced it, allowing you to make real, informed choices while you shop.
“Let’s say you disagree with how much a company is spending on advertising when it could be creating jobs,” Alexander continues. “Then let Kamuu be your megaphone, and allow your purchasing power to finally begin making a positive difference.”
Given Max’s proven track record of success across multiple fields and roles, we’re guessing he may be onto something.
Future Entrepreneur Is Not Risk Averse
Ethan DeLano (BSBA‘12) has bungee-jumped off the Macau Tower in China, one of the tallest structures in the world. He has gone skydiving in Australia — 13 times — and received a skydiving license for solo jumps that required him to pack his own parachute. He has skydived, ridden a motorcycle, and gone scuba diving within 24 hours, cramming three of his passions into a single day.
Another of DeLano’s passions is business. He ran his own company stocking vending machines in high school. “I learned some business basics, like keeping a budget and finding the cheapest goods,” he says. “I took out a loan.”
When it came to choosing a college, a strong business program and a sense of adventure were musts. “I’d been in California my whole life,” DeLano says. “I wanted a new experience.”
Boston University School of Management (SMG) satisfied both of those requirements, DeLano says. SMG provides hands-on, team-based learning and let him start studying management from year one. Certain of where he was headed, DeLano didn’t want to have to wait two years to declare a major.
Moving to Boston provided the adventure, from a new climate that included snowy winters to a new, more intense, East Coast attitude.
DeLano jumped right in to university life. He joined the BU Student Alumni Association, (SAA), the Ping-Pong Club, and other student organizations. He took extra classes and worked for BU’s IT Help service. In search of school spirit, he attended most of the Terrier hockey home games his freshman year, and witnessed the team’s triumph in the national Frozen Four championship in Washington, DC in person. “It was just an amazing experience,” he says.
Taking extra classes allowed him to take off the second semester of his junior year from school to travel to Australia, India, and Hong Kong. At each stop he interned for two months, working at a private equity firm, a Big Four accounting firm, and a financial consulting firm.
Inspired by his extreme adventures abroad, when he returned to BU he founded the Extreme Club, organizing students for scuba diving, skydiving, and ice climbing trips.
He eventually became president of BU SAA, and that’s where he’s been devoting a good deal of energy this year. “The Student Alumni Association organizes networking events for students and alumni,” DeLano explains.
The SAA event Strike Up a Conversation jump-starts the relationship between students and alumni during the fall semester. Throughout the year, BU alumni host Dinner for 10 Terriers events that bring together students and alumni in a more intimate setting. In the spring, DeLano says, Connect for Success is a formal networking event that allows students and alumni to connect with others in their own industries.
But SAA organizes just-for-fun events, too, DeLano says, including a student-alumni broomball tournament with finals in the Agganis Arena, where the varsity hockey teams play.
DeLano has concentrations in operations and technology management and management and information systems. He’s also minoring in economics. After graduation, he plans to return to California to work for a consulting firm, which he believes will give him exposure to more facets of the business world that will build on his far-reaching SMG education.
“That’s what I really like about business: how things interact,” he says. “I like not being stuck in one area, such as accounting, but being involved in all aspects of business.” Eventually, DeLano would like to run a business of his own. He’s inspired by the way his father built his veterinary practice and by several uncles who run their own businesses.
If it’s true what they say about starting a business being a lot like jumping out of an airplane, at least DeLano has experience packing a parachute.
A Mayor in the Making?
Listening to him talk a mile a minute and watching the excitement build on his face, it’s easy to see how junior Evan Gross (BSBA ’12) convinced the City Council of his hometown, Scarsdale, N.Y., to choose him over other candidates as the councilman for Youth Affairs.
“When I spoke with the village trustees about why they should choose me, I explained that I could offer the most unique perspective. I had just graduated from the high school and could give insight into youth affairs that most adults couldn’t possibly dream of. And I thought it would freshen up not only the board itself but the way it’s perceived by others as well.”
City Council isn’t the only thing Evan’s talked his way into. Being a huge baseball fan (and a proud Yankees supporter) and having umpired local baseball games since the eighth grade, Evan also co-manages the Little League of Scarsdale with his best friend Matt Ursillo, who attends Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.—all the way from Boston. “We put together a formal pitch for the board of directors that oversees the League,” he says. “Since we go to different universities about 300 miles from home, they asked us how we would do it. We came up with a comprehensive outline for spring break training and effectively scheduling games.”
That was two years ago, and they’re still running the program from afar, with great success, Evan adds. They manage more than 50 people involved in the league and have recently been asked to take over the management of a Fall Ball program. Sometimes they have to drop everything they’re doing in their respective cities to deal with umpires canceling an hour before a scheduled game, but in the two years since they’ve taken over the league, not a single game has gone uncovered.
“It’s a lot of fun and gives us a chance to work with parents, help kids in the community, and stay involved with baseball and my hometown. It’s one of the most fun things I do. It’s a junior version of what I hope to do someday in management. It’s definitely taught me how to deal with different types of personalities and adapt to different kinds of people.”
Evan was fueled to do volunteer work because he wanted to make a difference in his community. “It was the idea that things are great, but…” he said, “I could definitely see a couple things going in a better direction.” As an example, he tells the story of the senior internship required at his high school and how he was able to effect change. “The guidelines and rules they designed for the internship were so horrendous that I had to let the school administration know they had a problem. When I graduated, they asked me to come back and become an advisor. So I was happy that other students could benefit from my feedback.”
Evan is particularly happy to help the youth in his community. “Schools are the most important thing in a community. If you can shape them, you can shape the way your town evolves.”
He feels so strongly about this that he’s considering running for mayor of Scarsdale in the next election. “Local politics are more interesting because you know the people and the issues, and you can really relate and effect change.
“When you come across issues that impact your daily life, or the daily lives of those around you, you have to stand up,” he says. “And from my experience, I’ve found that when you find the right person to talk to you and offer your opinion in a respectful and intelligent way, you’d be surprised how easily you can change things.”
It’s clear that when Evan puts his mind to something, he doesn’t stop until he achieves it. Last year, when he and seven other male students got together for the College of General Studies’ Capstone project, a 50-page research paper, he was told that an 8-man team would never win. Evan, the team leader, wanted to prove the naysayers wrong. He gave his team a motto—”If you’re not first, you’re last”—and flung himself into the project. The group wrote a comprehensive new outline on global warming and devised a mathematical formula to determine who was emitting what and in what capacity. Out of 17 teams, Evan’s group won the Capstone Award, which they received during Parents Weekend this past fall.
If he doesn’t win mayoralty in Scarsdale, Evan would like to go into accounting after graduation, following in the footsteps of his father. “Accounting just makes sense to me,” he says. “Money helps determine everything.”
If all else fails, he’d be perfectly happy as the commissioner of Major League Baseball.
Right At Home – Where Passion and Academics Meet.
Severine Cukierman (BSBA ’12) is a very busy woman. “As soon as I visited SMG, I knew it was where I wanted to be. I felt right at home.” While it seems like a common sentiment, for Severine Cukierman (BSBA ’12), home has always been a fluid concept. Raised in Miami, Florida, Cukierman has had roots in a diverse collection of locales. “My mother is Dominican and my father is French,” she explains, “so I was brought up speaking English, Spanish, and French in my household, as well as traveling to Paris and to the Dominican Republic throughout my childhood.”
Cukierman’s cultural background contributed heavily to her academic pursuits. The majority of her classes in middle school were conducted in French, and she now speaks five languages, including Italian, which she learned here at BU. Her scholastic strengths don’t end there. Prior to SMG, Cukierman attended the Maritime and Science Technology Academy, a magnet high school for math and science in Miami. She continues to excel in her coursework at SMG, and was recently awarded the Arnold L. Beatrice Linter Scholarship for her academic distinction.
She credits her parents with giving her the tools to accomplish her goals. “I watched them struggle to raise me and give me the essentials; they always put me first and supported me,” she shares, “I’m the first in my family to attend college and eventually plan to go to law school. I’m extremely driven to be successful.”
“Dancing is my getaway.”
Outside of class, Cukierman’s energy and focus are often dedicated to dancing. An avid dancer since the age of five, she has worked as an instructor at In Motion Dance Center in her hometown of Miami, and is currently a member of Vibes, an all-female hip hop group here at BU. “Dancing is my getaway,” she reveals, “it’s something I do for myself.” However, the future could hold an opportunity to combine her academic and athletic passions, as she plans to pursue a career in entertainment law, with an eventual focus on the management side of the music industry. She has also worked as an intern for Gamble Sports Management, an independent basketball agency, and is an active member of the SMG community, serving as a Dean’s Host and working with incoming freshmen as a student advisor during summer orientation.
Cukierman plans to graduate in the spring, a year earlier than the traditional four-year college experience, and from there, intends to add to the list of diverse places she has lived. “I’d like to take a year or two off to go abroad, learn another language, and work in a field that’s out of my comfort zone,” she states. Though her destination is not yet definite, with her powerful determination and impressive set of skill and talents, Cukierman should easily fit right in and make herself at home.
The last question I asked Liri Kovalski (BSBA ’11) during our interview was about her plans for the future, which include applying to law school and expanding her real estate management business. But then she told me, “There’s a Hebrew saying that I’ll translate into English for you: ‘The man makes plans, and God laughs.’” I knew exactly what she meant, and laughed heartily at the simple truth of it. But the more I thought about it, the more I doubted whether she really buys it. After all, just half an hour earlier, she was explaining to me, like it was a simple empirical fact of nature, “When I decide something, it happens.”
From what she tells me about herself, that sounds a lot more likely. Liri began working at age 12 (though she didn’t have to), because she “never wanted to be dependent on people.”
At 17, she started as a hostess at local bars in Tel Aviv, only to quickly transition into a very profitable event producer/PR manager, much to the chagrin of the seasoned industry veterans around her.
“Both of my older brothers went into the family business, and it was assumed that I would too. But I wanted to make it for myself with no connections in Israel, to prove that I could.”
“Most of my competitors were 30-plus-year-old men. Not only was I the only lady in the industry, but I was also the youngest. Most of them had already pursued their degrees. At first they didn’t take me seriously, but after a few events I threw succeeded, they started contacting me with offers to cooperate. I started doing more serious event production, including premieres of the Israeli So You Think You Can Dance and the movie of a famous local actor.”
Like all Israelis, Liri was drafted into the Israeli Defense Force for two years when she was 18. But unlike others, that didn’t mean she was going to quit her job. She convinced her superiors to let her continue conducting PR business anyway.
A few years later, having fulfilled her duty to the army, while saving some money on the side, Liri left her home in Israel to begin a new life on her own. She knew she wanted to be in Boston, ultimately to study law, and to try her hand at real estate like her father had before her.
“Both of my older brothers went into the family business, and it was assumed that I would too,” she says. “But I wanted to make it for myself with no connections in Israel, to prove that I could.”
Coming from Israel, Liri didn’t enter college with any AP credits, but nonetheless she is scheduled to graduate from the School of Management this May, a year early. Meanwhile, she was the teaching assistant for freshman-year business classes SM121 and SM122, and this year is the head teaching assistant for all freshman business courses.
As if that weren’t enough, Liri is already following one of her dreams: Last year, she bought a residential property in the South End, which she manages, in partnership with her father. And this year she is looking to make her second real estate investment in the Boston area. Her partnership with her father, who has been a constant supporter and mentor, is 50/50. “I do most of the management work because my father lives in Israel, but I’m happy to be in partnership with him,” she says. “I cherish his opinion and experience—my father did it the same way with his parents.”
She credits her grandparents and father with her interest and success in real estate. Having moved to Israel after the Holocaust with almost nothing, her grandparents always put any extra money they had into real estate.
“I think that was an inspiration to me,” she says. “I learned from them and my father, who followed in their footsteps as I am in his, that real estate is a means of securing yourself financially long-term. It enables you to do things that you love while being sure that tomorrow you won’t starve, because only two generations ago, my grandparents were in a situation where they did starve.”