A recent study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Notre Dame found that women who maintain a close inner circle of other female friends are more likely to attain high-ranking leadership positions. Yang Yang, a research assistant professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and co-author of the study, says that “such an inner circle can provide trustworthy, gender-relevant information about job cultures and social support, which are very important to women in male-dominated settings.” In other words, successful women surround themselves with other successful women.
That’s exactly the ethos of The Propel Program, an initiative launched by The Garage to foster diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship at Northwestern. Propel was made possible with the generous support of Steve Elms ‘92 MBA, and his wife, Katherine Elms, in partnership with the Innovation and New Ventures Office (INVO). Under the guidance of Melissa Kaufman, executive director of The Garage, and Hayes Ferguson, associate director of The Garage, the Propel Program offers budding women entrepreneurs at Northwestern access to networking, mentorship, and immersive learning experiences, in addition to stipends to support their entrepreneurial projects.
Through the program, Propellers are able to connect with a network of Propel mentors, a group of ten female entrepreneurs with experience from a variety of industry backgrounds, from angel investing to hedge fund managing to bookselling—including two former Garage residents. Later in the year, Propellers will meet all together to trade notes on their project trajectories, and in June, they’ll share what they’ve been working on at a showcase open to the Northwestern community.
Yasmeena Faycurry, McCormick ‘22, says she’s excited about being a part of the Propel Program because it’s an incredibly unique resource. “I’m excited to have a community of women I can learn from, and I’m especially excited to work with a mentor, because it’s hard to find somebody who will help you no matter what.” Yuki Solomon, School of Communication ‘19, is working on a documentary film series about Chicago, and echoes the same excitement about the Propel community. She loves that “The Garage [is] innovative, progressive and dedicated to the power of sharing new ideas for the community and for the future.”
In Propel’s inaugural 2019 class, there are 24 students from a range of Northwestern undergraduate and graduate programs, from freshman engineers to second-year MBAs. Propel women are working on a diverse set of projects, VR technology, sustainable apparel manufacturing, and a CBD beverage company.
Get to know our 2019 Propel class and a snippet about their projects below:
Kimmie Carey, Kellogg ‘19
Her project: the dose co. is a functional food and beverage company dedicated to improving your well-being.
Cheyenne Cazaubon, Pritzker ‘19
Her project: A career profile website elevating millennial women in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Mathematics).
Nicole Dannehower, Kellogg ‘19
Her project: Mineral SPF aims to provide affordable, high quality sun protection delivered direct to consumer, and including education on when, how, and why to apply.
Sophie Davis, Weinberg ‘21
Her project (with Tarushi Sharma): to make waking up more refreshing experience through Lux, an IoT device that customizes a bright light sunrise to your sleep cycles.
Yasmeena Faycurry, McCormick ‘22
Her project: eliminating distance with VR technology.
Anim Haroon, Kellogg ‘20
Her project: to create a platform for teenage girls to find resources and mentorship.
Maja Ivanovic, Feinberg ‘20
Her project: to create an interactive course for health care students which focuses on business in medicine.
Cassidy Jackson, Medill ‘21
Her project: a podcast called “5-Minutes of Passion” that works to give listeners quick doses of passion from young adults just like them.
Isabella Jiao, Medill ‘19
Her project: Wearever curates and delivers clothing rental services to travelers who are unable to pack/source everything they want and need for a trip.
Emily Kvitko, Medill ‘19
Her project: Onesie, a digital magazine and app that features videos, photos and interactive stories on baby and toddler fashion and celebrates children up to age five for their creativity, curiosity and free spirits.
Ruge (Star) Li, Medill ‘19
Her project (with Zoey Qianren): C-art is a video content platform that makes art more accessible and fun by providing 1-3 minute educational and interactive videos about artwork.
Amie Liu, Kellogg ‘19
Her project: MyVillage is an app that helps parents streamline asking for help when the unexpected pops up.
Rachele Louis, Kellogg ‘19
Her project: LifeWeb, a social memory platform for collecting memories from your loved one’s community to create a 360 view of life after they’ve passed away, and to connect those who knew them in different ways.
Alice Lu, Pritzker ‘19
Her project: an incubator to develop a tailored training on Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) for law schools and legal clinics to contribute legal expertise towards the national conversation on TIC.
Regina Morfin, McCormick ‘21
Her project (with Avantika Raikar): facilitate the use of sustainable manufacturing processes in large scale apparel production.
Cara Morphew, Kellogg ‘19
Her project: BeenThere is a career prep and higher education application marketplace that connects applicants to current MBAs for detailed guidance and advice.
Aimee Ortega, School of Communication ‘20
Her project: Aimee Elise Sewing Studio, a contemporary space to learn and engage in the creative practice of sewing while building community along the way.
Zhao (Zoey) Qianren, Medill ‘19
Her project (with Star Li): C-art is a video content platform that makes art more accessible and fun by providing 1-3 minute educational and interactive videos about artwork.
Avantika Raikar, McCormick ‘22
Her project (with Regina Morfin): facilitate the use of sustainable manufacturing processes in large scale apparel production.
Elaine Ramirez, Medill ‘19
Her project: Prodos builds trust in blockchain technology through data-driven content and insights for business leaders.
Tess Russell, McCormick ‘20
Her project: provide a platform to help people recycle goods they never thought were recyclable and to make it easy to find recycling companies and locations for all types of products.
Tarushi Sharma, Weinberg ‘19
Her project (with Sophie Davis): to make waking up more refreshing experience through Lux, an IoT device that customizes a bright light sunrise to your sleep cycles.
Yuki Solomon, School of Communication ‘19
Her project: a documentary film series that captures the personal and public life of inspiring female figures here in the Windy City. Shot on an iPhone.
Colleen Zewe, Medill ‘19
Her project: a podcast about women’s health so that they will have information they need to feel empowered and in-charge of their own health and well-being.