Innovator's Gala 2017

 Participant photo

Daniel Evans, Tariro Kandemiri, Sofia Olenchek, Blaise Iradukunda, and Tori Hinshaw (from left), pitched their ideas for improving the community at the 2017 Innovator's Gala

Sofia Olenchek, C ‘20, thought she had a good idea: making high-quality portraits available to people and families that can’t afford the high costs often associated with professional photography.

So she took her idea to the 2017 Innovator’s Gala and convinced the attendees she was right. Now, she has a grant of $250 to help bring her project to life. She plans to promote her services at area community centers and sought funding to pay for photo editing software and photo distribution costs.

The Gala, sponsored by the Entrepreneurship & Social Innovation Club, drew an audience of 32 students and community members for an evening in Guerry Garth where they dined on food donated by Dave’s Modern Tavern, The Mountain Goat Market, and Pearl’s Fine Dining.

Along with the socializing, the audience listened to Olenchek’s pitch and two other proposals.

A team of Tariro Kandemiri, C ‘18, Daniel Evans, C ‘18, and Blaise Iradukunda, C ‘18, pitched their local food delivery business——an on-line app that offers to-the-door meal service from area restaurants and fast food outlets.

Tori Hinshaw, C ‘19, proposed helping fund the Highlander Hoedown, a community event at the site of the old Highlander Folk School. The event, in the style of the Saturday night social events the school often ran in the 1940s, is designed to open new connections between local residents and University students. Hinshaw is the event organizer, and she sought the funds to help defer some of the costs associated with the event.

The contest among the three groups was tight—Olenchek collected 12 votes, while each of the other projects picked up 11 ballots.

To see a slideshow of the Innovator’s Gala, follow this link.