Skip to main content

Hajim Young Leadership Council

collage

A tangible way to make a difference

Koji Muto ’15, now a project development engineer at ExxonMobil, wanted to stay involved with the University after graduating.

Tyler Kieft ’09 (’10 T5), a software engineer at Instagram, wanted to do whatever he could to give back to the Hajim School and its students in gratitude for the “continuing benefits of the education I received there.”

Both are doing so as members of the Hajim School Young Leadership Council (HYLC). Now 24 members strong, the council was formed in 2015 to build positive relationships between recent alumni and the school’s current students and faculty.

Council members are encouraged to share their experience, time, and resources to help strengthen the quality of education, to promote alumni engagement and professional development, and to increase philanthropy as a way to make the Hajim School ever better.

It is an opportunity for young Hajim School alumni to find tangible ways to be involved and make a difference in the school.

'A perfect avenue to help students'

That was a strong motivation for both Muto and Kieft.

“There are so many things I wish I had known about how to build a career when I was in school,” says Kieft. “It’s daunting, being on the cusp of graduating, having the whole world in front of you, and being forced to choose a path. I feel like I have some good insight now to provide students facing the same situation. “

Adds Muto: “As a recent graduate, I am all too familiar with the transition from the last day of school to the first day of work and the challenges my peers and I faced. The Leadership Council is a perfect avenue to help students prepare for that transition and to encourage them to stay in touch with the University after graduation.”

The council officially gathers on campus during Meliora Weekend and also meets once a year via Skype. Other conference calls and independent communications take place between these scheduled get-togethers. 

“The council mirrors in many ways the evolution in how people do business,” says Jim Zavislan, associate dean for education and new initiatives, who updates the group on school programs and initiatives and on specific opportunities for engagement. “The idea is to try to do a flash mob of engagement, where we are reaching out to them in ways that are current. They’re excited to be part of the school and provide us reflections on how their educational experiences are being put into practice.”

The benefits flow both ways

There is a two-way flow of benefits. The input and support from recent alumni helps the school keep its educational programs relevant to the current workplace, connect with other recent graduates, and build mentoring and internship opportunities for current students.

Members, in turn, are kept abreast of what’s happening at the school and enjoy networking opportunities that can be useful for their own professional development.

“The biggest personal benefit so far has been to reconnect with classmates whom I lost track of,” says Kieft.

“It’s interesting to meet with other young alumni who all graduated from the same engineering school and hear about the different paths they took,” adds Muto.

To learn more about the council, contact Derek Swanson at derek.swanson@rochester.edu or via phone: o: (585) 273-1341 / m: (315) 271-9732.

Current members

(With links to LinkedIn profiles)

Wyatt Anderson ’10
Computer Science
staff software engineer, engineering manager
Oscar Insurance
New York, New York

Jeffrey Arndt ’07
Mechanical Engineering
FBI
Rochester, New York

Rachel Bierasinski ’13 (MS ’14)
Mechanical Engineering
design engineer
Xerox
Rochester, New York

Travis Block ’12
Biomedical Engineering
senior scientist StemBioSys
founding president San Antonio Science
San Antonio, Texas

Nathan Charles Contino ‘17
Computer Science and English
software developer
Bloomberg LP
New York, NY

Jesse Cramer ’12 (MS ’14)
Mechanical Engineering,
mechanical/thermal engineer
Harris Space and Intelligence
Rochester, New York

David Gonzalez Garcia ‘16
Electrical and Computer Engineering
technical solutions engineer
Google NYC

Tyler Kieft ’09
Electrical and Computer Engineering
engineering manager
Instagram
New York, New York

Bryan Knouse ’13
Mechanical Engineering
founder
Rapdinfluence and Responsive Technology
New York, New York

Zamantha Lopez Aldaco ’13
Chemical Engineering
chemical engineer
Talis Construction Co.
Phoenix, Arizona

Katie McCormick (Schwertz) ’08
Optics
senior design engineer
Edmund Optics
Tucson, Arizona

Conor McNamara ’14
Chemical Engineering
senior logistics analyst
Anheuser-Busch,
St. Louis, Missouri

Koji Muto ’15
Mechanical Engineering
process design followup engineer
Exxon/Mobil,
Farnborough, UK
(Bio)

Brad Orego ’10
Computer Science
senior UX researcher, Prolific Interactive
founder, MelioraLabs
Brooklyn, NY
(Bio and advice to students)

Berto Perez Reyes ’15 (MS ’16)
Mechanical Engineering and TEAM
mechanical engineer
Vuzix wearable display devices
Rochester, NY

John Pershing ’10
Computer Science
vice president, software engineering
1010data, New York, New York
(Bio)

Tergel Purevdorj ’16
Computer Science and Studio Art
senior UX designer
Apple, San Francisco, California

Rishi Sharma ’16 MS
Data science
natural language processing researcher
University of Rochester

Kedar Shashidhar ’15, ’16 (KEY)
Audio and Music Engineering
audio application software engineer
Magic Leap

Ethan Siegler ’13
Mechanical Engineering
MBA candidate
University of Southern California

Luis Soto ’11 (TEAM ’12)
Electrical and Computer Engineering
project manager
NBC Sports,
New York, New York

Rachel Twardowski’10
Biomedical Engineering,
senior manager, specialty analytics and reporting
Takeda Pharmaceuticals
Chicago, Illinois
(Bio)

Brigit Vallera ’08 (’09 MBA)
Chemical Engineering
director of data management
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Boston

Bo Wang ‘10
optical engineer
Precision Optical
Costa Mesa, CA