Fourteen members of the Class of 2023 have been named Falk College Scholars–the highest academic award conferred by Falk College on graduating seniors. Falk Scholars represent undergraduate students who display academic excellence, exceptional campus and community engagement, independent research and creative work, innovation in their disciplinary field, and personal integrity.
We asked the Class of 2023 Falk Scholars to describe their most meaningful experiences at Syracuse University. Here’s what they wrote:
Alexander Borelli, Sport Analytics
Throughout my four years at Syracuse University, my most influential and memorable experiences have come from within Falk College. Starting the Fantasy Sports Club in 2021 and serving as its vice president was an incredibly fulfilling experience that allowed me to bring together many like-minded individuals. It has been amazing to see an idea I started with one of my peers develop into a hub for students to attend weekly and discuss their fantasy football leagues.
Being a recruiting intern for the Syracuse University football team during the 2021-22 season was also a memorable experience that taught me a lot about the player operations side of a football organization. I was able to tie my love for sports and my background in player evaluation to a position that granted me the opportunity to make an impact on the team. Syracuse University, and the various experiences in my time here, has helped me develop into a better person and leader.
In the News: Borelli competed for the Syracuse University team that finished first in the game analytics division in the AXS National Collegiate Sports Analytics Championship.
Kylie Dedrick, Sport Analytics
Syracuse has provided me with memories, experiences, and friends that will stick with me for many years to come. One of the most meaningful experiences I’ve had at Syracuse would be joining the Sport Analytics Women (SAW) Club. I was involved with other clubs but SAW truly gave me a tight-knit community of women to go through this program with as there are not too many of us.
The club gave me the opportunity to grow as a person and take on more responsibility. Coming into college, I never thought I would be the president of a club, but here I am in my senior year serving as president. I’ve been able to participate in multiple case competitions, attend the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and connect with some amazing people in the sport industry. Coming to Syracuse University is truly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
In the News: Dedrick competed for the Syracuse University team that finished second in the business analytics division in the AXS National Collegiate Sports Analytics Championship.
Kiersten Edwards, Public Health, Neuroscience
My time at Syracuse University has been full of ups and downs. While my classes and clubs have always provided security in their routine, it’s really the people and the adventures you embark on with those people that make the difference.
Nothing has been more meaningful to me than the nights I spent with friends staying awake far too late, or the in-depth conversations with faculty beyond school–the ones that dove into my dreams, my sorrows, and our collective hope for what the world could be someday. I am so grateful for the friends I made here, for the faculty mentorship I have received, and for the future that Syracuse has helped provide for me!
Taylor Fein, Nutrition Science and Dietetics
I have had many meaningful experiences at Syracuse but volunteering for the Shaw Center program “Books and Cooks” each semester is one that stands out the most. During this program, we visit a local elementary school every Friday to teach students a lesson about nutrition and food from different countries. I have built connections with the students and witnessed how much joy it brings to their day. I am grateful to have been part of a program that makes a difference in students’ lives.
Another experience that I am thankful for is conducting my own research. In my “Sleep and Hydration” study I was able to conduct hands-on research with human participants. I learned how important it is to improve and learn from each encounter along the way. I am now looking forward to pursuing a Ph.D. in physiology and continuing this path of academic discovery through research.
In the News: Fein received the 2021 Ruth Tolley Award from the Department of Nutrition Science and Dietetics.
Shane Halpin, Sport Analytics
The Sport Analytics program at Syracuse University has provided me with countless rewarding opportunities to cultivate and demonstrate my analytical skills as they relate to the world of sports. My most meaningful experiences have been representing Syracuse through SABR Diamond Dollars Case Competitions.
As part of these events, I have collaborated with peers formulating responses to complex prompts relevant to current issues in baseball. These experiences have required me to think outside the box and find as precise and unique answers as possible. Being selected as captain of my teams in the last two competitions has been a gratifying experience for me, allowing me to reflect on my growth as a student and as a leader. Additionally, I have been inspired to pursue further research related to baseball with my professors, igniting my passion to continue working in the sport industry upon graduation.
In the News: Halpin competed for the Syracuse University team that finished second in the business analytics division in the AXS National Collegiate Sports Analytics Championship.
Aric Lechner, Public Health, Neuroscience
In my time at Syracuse University, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing, bright-minded people. Working closely under the guidance and mentorship of Professor Brittany Kmush and other faculty members in the Department of Public Health has been a defining experience and certainly helped shape my career goals. The pilot study was made possible through SOURCE (Syracuse Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Engagement), where I was able to receive funding for research to further analyze new methods for the detection of opioids in wastewater.
In addition to research and experiences in the Department of Public Health, Syracuse University Ambulance (SUA) has been another place of support during my time here. Being able to serve as a personnel supervisor has had a meaningful impact on my growth as a leader, teacher, and person, and I am forever grateful to all of those who have made these last four years so special.
In the News: In addition to SUA, Lechner was a member of the “Goon Squad,” Syracuse University’s official welcoming committee for new students.
Eli Miller, Sport Analytics
Being part of the Falk College provided me with a unique learning experience that I could not have received anywhere else. The coursework was not only challenging but also very practical, giving me real-life experience that will undoubtedly come in handy in my future career.
Furthermore, the university’s robust internship program allowed me to apply my knowledge in real-world settings, giving me hands-on experience and the opportunity to network with professionals in the sports industry. The faculty and staff were also incredibly supportive, providing me with guidance and resources to succeed both academically and personally. I feel confident that my experiences at Syracuse University have given me a strong foundation for success in the sports industry, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.
In the News: Miller competed for the Syracuse University team that finished second in the business analytics division in the AXS National Collegiate Sports Analytics Championship.
Mara Miranda, Public Health
Since beginning my journey at Syracuse University, I have had opportunities that have helped me grow professionally and personally. As I reflect on the past four years, the experience that I’ve had participating in undergraduate research through the Syracuse Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Engagement (SOURCE) has been truly rewarding.
Working with Professor Justin Ehrlich, Professor Brittany Kmush, and Professor Shane Sanders on research involving head injuries, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), helmet policies, and rule changes in the NFL has helped me bridge my love for sports with my passion for public health and medicine. It has helped me to look at athletics from a different lens, and I have appreciated this experience. Being a member of the Falk community has granted me opportunities that I will hold for a lifetime.
In the News: Miranda assisted with the research for the study on head injuries for NFL players that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Matthew Penn, Sport Analytics
Some of my most influential experiences at Syracuse have been in clubs. One of those clubs is the Baseball Statistics and Sabermetrics Club, for which I have served as the vice president. Through the organization, I have been able to work on research and travel to Arizona to compete against other schools across the country in SABR Case Competitions.
Another club that has been influential in my time at Falk is the Sport Management Club and its Charity Sports Auction. As co-chair of the Analytics Committee for the auction, I have been able to help raise money and give back to the Central New York community. These experiences have helped me grow both as a person and in my career.
In the News: Penn and the Sport Management Club raised more than $50,000 for Vera House at the 2022 Charity Sports Auction.
Madison Roberts, Human Development and Family Science
Syracuse University offered many extraordinary opportunities, but my time presenting at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) stands out as one of the most impactful. In the fall of my sophomore year, I began an independent study with Professor Matthew Mulvaney and another student. We examined the developmental and personality variables that influenced students’ willingness to engage with diverse viewpoints on campus. This project was accepted for the SPSP National Conference in Atlanta. In February, we flew to Georgia and presented our poster at a three-day conference.
This opportunity reinforced my passion for research. I have been able to conduct two projects across the human development and family science field. This contributed to my decision to pursue graduate school, including taking a position in a research lab. I look forward to taking these skills and applying them to my future academic career.
In the News: Roberts received the 2021 Florence B. Potter Memorial Award from the Department of Human Development and Family Science.
Brielle Seidel, Public Health
Syracuse University has been a place of true academic and personal growth for me. I have been able to explore my passion for the medical field and service by taking public health and addiction classes and engaging in meaningful campus organizations, including Syracuse University Ambulance and Camp Kesem. Additionally, I traveled abroad to Geneva, Switzerland, expanding my understanding of the world and addiction studies.
Syracuse University and its incredible staff have encouraged me to converge my personal and academic interests through their support of my thesis about psychedelic medicine. Their support for my passions has given me a deeper appreciation for my education at this University.
Finally, being a 2022-2023 Remembrance Scholar has been one of the most meaningful experiences at Syracuse. I faced challenges and grief in honoring Luann Rogers and those who perished on Pan Am Flight 103. Through that experience, I was able to find the importance of promoting peace, connection, and love–the qualities that build a better future.
In the News: Seidel was one of Syracuse University’s 2022-23 Remembrance Scholars, whose mission was to honor and remember the Syracuse students and others lost in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.
Joanna Vines, Public Health, Policy Studies
During my freshman year, I determined that a double major in public health and policy studies would align with my interests and goals. This interdisciplinary path of study created a trajectory that has provided me with valuable opportunities and meaningful experiences and enabled me to make positive impacts over my years at Syracuse.
I have engaged in experiential learning roles as a research consultant for the Onondaga County health department, an intern for Planned Parenthood, and a laboratory assistant at the COVID-19 Program Management Office. Through these positions, I enhanced my skills and knowledge in public health practice and connected with influential public health community leaders. These experiences inspired the research content for my honors thesis, which addresses public health and educational disparities and inequities in New York State.
In the News: This spring, Vines is working as an intern in the Education and Outreach department at Planned Parenthood of Syracuse.
Benjamin Wachtel, Sport Analytics
When I first learned of the Sport Analytics program at Syracuse University, I knew it was the best choice for me. Now as I am completing my studies, I can reflect on how much I have grown both inside and outside the classroom.
Out of all my experiences–whether it be competitions, research, or other extracurricular projects–one of the most meaningful has been being a Berlin Scholar for Sport Management Instructor Adrian Simion. In this role, I am participating in department research while also learning about this process. I have assisted with research pertaining to the NCAA transfer portal, providing input on project ideas and cleaning data.
Currently, I am aiding the initial stages of a Major League Baseball deep-learning project. My growth as a student and researcher, and my future professional in the industry, could not have been achieved without the opportunities the Sport Analytics program provided to me.
In the News: Wachtel competed for the Syracuse University team that finished first in the game analytics division in the AXS National Collegiate Sports Analytics Championship.
Junhui “Carol” Yang, Nutrition Science and Dietetics, Psychology
As an undergraduate researcher and research assistant at Syracuse University, I have been presented with numerous impressive opportunities and resources. During my sophomore year, I joined Professor Latha Ramalingam’s lab and worked on a study investigating the cross-generational effects of omega-3 fatty acids on improving obesity and chronic inflammation. Through this research project, I learned various skills in experimental operation, including testing gene expressions. This experience not only expanded my knowledge but allowed me to receive multiple scholarships, awards, and poster presentation opportunities, which have been incredibly encouraging.
Furthermore, serving as a peer mentor in International Student Success and the Renée Crown Honors Program, and being a teaching assistant for Professor Jane Burrell, has provided me with meaningful opportunities to assist others. Additionally, I am honored to have been pre-selected by the Phi Beta Kappa Society New York Chapter at Syracuse University, the most prestigious academic honor society in America. The confidence and passion I have developed at Syracuse have propelled me toward pursuing my dream of becoming a physician-scientist.
In the News: Yang’s research with Ramalingam involved examining obesity in male mice to explore the idea that a healthier father will produce a healthier child.