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Class of 2024 Falk College Scholars

‘Thank you, Syracuse, for the path, passion, and people that made a difference and challenged me to do the same’
Falk scholars students standing together

Falk College Scholars and Undergraduate Department Marshals recently gathered a reception hosted by Dean Jeremy Jordan. Front row, left to right: Scholar Alison Gilmore and Marshals Jane Alexander Morales-Pinto (Food Studies) and Marissa Taylor Schneider (Sport Analytics). Middle row, left to right: Marshal Emily Jo Shuman (Human Development and Family Science), Scholars Sophia Lehrer and Ainsley MacLachlan, Marshal Julia Geronimo (Exercise Science), and Scholar Creagan Mee. Back row, left to right: Scholars Nicholas Kamimoto, Tyler Bolebruch, Mariana Pérez Lugo, and Tess Palin, Marshal Lirona Brucaj (Nutrition), and Scholar Alex Oppel.

Ten members of the Class of 2024 have been named Falk College Scholars–the highest academic award conferred by the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics 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 2024 Falk Scholars to describe their most impactful experiences at Syracuse University. Here’s what they wrote:

Sean Bolan stands on a soccer field with a trophy
Sean Bolan with the Syracuse University’s 2022 men’s soccer NCAA Championship trophy.

Sean Boland, Sport Analytics

My most influential–and certainly most memorable–experience at Syracuse University has been working as an analyst for the men’s soccer team. In this role, I have been able to develop technical skills, create memories, and build relationships that will last long after graduation.

I started working with the soccer team as a sophomore, thanks to a connection through the Sport Analytics program, and have loved every minute of the journey it has taken me on these last three years. Standing on the sideline with the team during the decisive penalty kick shootout that won us the 2022 NCAA Championship, running onto the field after the final shot, and getting to hold the national championship trophy are memories that I will never forget. Getting the chance to experience moments like this while also developing relevant skills that will help me as a professional in the sport analytics industry has been everything that I could have asked for and much more.

Four male students pose in a stadium
Tyler Bolebruch (left) with the Syracuse University team that won the National Collegiate Sports Analytics Championship in Dallas, Texas.

Tyler Bolebruch, Sport Analytics

The most influential moments that I have had at Syracuse University and Falk College are all the events I was able to travel to, and be a part of, including the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Analytics Conference, MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and National Collegiate Sports Analytics Championship (NCSAC). Each one of these events was a great experience that allowed me to meet a lot of different people and learn from the many different talks and presentations.

Beyond that, for the SABR Conference and NCSAC, I was able to compete and present my work to industry professionals. This has helped me substantially in my search for a job. Instead of simply meeting some of these professionals, they have been able to see my work and what I can do. The exposure from the Sport Analytics program and Falk College has had a massive impact on my college experience and future career opportunities.

Alison Gilmore stands outside the student center at Syracuse University.
Alison Gilmore was also named one of 12 Syracuse University Scholars, the highest undergraduate honor the University bestows.

Alison Gilmore, Sport Analytics

My time at Syracuse University has been unforgettable and life-changing in so many ways. Involvement in clubs such as Sport Analytics Women Club, Baseball Statistics and Sabermetrics Club, OrangeSeeds, and OttoTHON allowed me to tap into my passions, develop personally and professionally, and surround myself with remarkable and diverse individuals. Further, my work as a Student Assistant and Peer Mentor at the Disability Cultural Center helped support my passion for advocacy while facilitating my growth in exponential ways, from speaking at the New York State capitol to co-presenting in a panel discussion at the University’s inaugural DEIA symposium.

Beyond that, as a Remembrance Scholar—forever the greatest honor of my life—attending the Pan Am Flight 103 35th Anniversary memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery alongside a few of my fellow Scholars was incredibly special. Within sport analytics, the opportunities I was afforded to attend conferences such as the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Analytics Conference and the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference were fundamental for me professionally. I am endlessly grateful to those who have had a hand in my journey. I am forever Proud to be Orange!

Nicholas Kamimoto portrait
Nicholas Kamimoto presented his research at the prestigious MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, Massachusetts.

Nicholas Kamimoto, Sport Analytics

Syracuse University and the Sport Analytics program has provided me with countless opportunities throughout my four years here. I have been able to build relationships and create memories that will last a lifetime. The most memorable experiences that I have had here at Syracuse have been the competitions and research that I have been a part of, such as representing Syracuse during the 2024 Business Analytics National Collegiate Sports Analytics Championship. Our team ended up winning the championship and that was such a great feeling seeing all our hard work pay off. I had an incredible time traveling with my friends to compete.

I have also had the opportunity to work alongside (Associate Professor) Dr. Justin Ehrlich this past year. We have worked on various research papers, most notably being a paper analyzing NBA true shot charts. I created a dashboard to display all the GAM (generalized additive model) shot charts. The paper made it all the way to a finalist at the 2024 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. I am so grateful for my time at Syracuse and in the Sports Analytics program at Falk College. I thank all my professors and peers who have helped me along the way.

Sophia Lehrer Leans against on of Falk College's buildings.
Sophia Lehrer’s varied experience at Syracuse University included an appearance in the gymnastics national finals and a cover story for Healthy You magazine.

Sophia Lehrer, Human Development and Family Science

Discovering curiosity’s compass in Falk College and the Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) program revealed many shapes and silhouettes that now frame my seasons at Syracuse–challenging valleys traversed, majestic hills ascended, faces and hearts of those that stirred me on. Combining research, fieldwork, and mentorship instilled a passion for pediatric healthcare. Working with toddlers at the Bernice M. Wright Child Development Laboratory School, observing surgeries at St. Joseph’s NICU, and trips including Bloomberg’s London headquarters through Syracuse Abroad connected science, practice, and journalism as integrated pursuits.

Professors and students inspired my path from HDFS Outstanding Freshman to Falk Scholar and beyond. A USA Gymnastics State Vault Champion, I applied the physics of leaping as my teammates and I led Syracuse to the NAIGC Gymnastics National Finals! Syracuse sparked creative leaps as well, encouraging me to publish the cover article in “Healthy You” magazine while earning a minor at Newhouse. Academic, athletic, and life lessons remain as guideposts to pursue a doctorate in healthcare on a journey to become an engaged clinician, researcher, and educator. Thank you, Syracuse, for the path, passion, and people that made a difference and challenged me to do the same! A slice of gratitude among many–Go Orange!

Ainsley MacLachlan portrait
Ainsley MacLachlan was involved in a groundbreaking study showing how wastewater surveillance is a potent tool in understanding COVID-19 transmission within school settings.

Ainsley MacLachlan, Public Health

My time at Syracuse University has truly been the most memorable four years of my life, thanks to my friends, professors, and mentors. I am incredibly grateful to have received the guidance of (Chair and Professor) Dr. David Larsen, who has supported the start of my research career while teaching me the power of wastewater surveillance in public health.

With my colleagues in Dr. Larsen’s lab, I have had the incredible opportunities of both having my work published in PLOS Global Public Health and attending the New York Water Environment Association’s annual conference. It is because of my experiences during my studies at Syracuse University and Falk College that I feel truly prepared and confident to embark on my next chapter of life.

Creagan Mee portrait
Since August, Creagan Mee has served as crew chief for Syracuse University Ambulance, a student-operated organization that responds to over 1,500 medical emergencies per year.

Creagan Mee, Public Health

Syracuse University has played a huge role in my personal and professional development. Working as an EMT (emergency medical technician) for Syracuse University Ambulance allowed me to explore my passion for medicine. This experience not only taught me essential skills in patient care but also significantly developed my self-confidence. Studying abroad in Florence, Italy, was also a transformative experience that broadened cultural understandings and pushed me outside my comfort zone.

Additionally, conducting research for my honors thesis on the relationship between preterm births and the social determinants of health enhanced my understanding of health issues, especially in maternal reproductive health. This experience equipped me with research skills and valuable knowledge that I will apply in my future career to deliver equitable and compassionate healthcare. I am forever grateful for the friendships, mentorship, and opportunities that Syracuse University has provided me, shaping me into the person I am today.

Alex Oppel stands next to a S.A.B.R. Conference sign.
Alex Oppel was a member of the Syracuse University team that won the 2024 Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Diamond Dollars Case Competition in Phoenix, Arizona.

Alex Oppel, Sport Analytics

My time at Syracuse University has been everything I could have hoped for. While COVID made my college transition more challenging, the experiences I have had and the relationships I have built have allowed me to grow into the person I am today.

Many of my favorite memories at Syracuse have come from my involvement with the Baseball Sabermetrics Club. I have had the opportunity to participate in several baseball analytics case competitions, which served as a platform to showcase and develop my analytical skills. The last two in-person competitions in Phoenix, Arizona, were especially fun. Being able to attend World Baseball Classic and spring training games with peers are experiences I will always remember.

Whenever I reflect on my four years at Syracuse, I will think about the people I am thankful to now call good friends. I have thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded by like-minded classmates who share my passion for sport, as well as interacting with the faculty and staff who make our program unrivaled.

Tess Palin works with a young child at a table.
As site coordinator and outreach coordinator for Syracuse University’s Shaw Center, Tess Palin facilitated a cooking and nutrition literacy program in the Syracuse City School District.

Tess Palin, Nutrition Science

My most influential and memorable experiences in my undergraduate career have been in my time working with Syracuse University’s Mary Ann Shaw Center for Public and Community Service. Starting as a sophomore, I volunteered at Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection to teach students at risk of not graduating how to cook and build balanced meals. After becoming an intern at the Shaw Center, I was able to run that specific program, as well as create and facilitate two different pilot programs that worked with different community partners and students.

I have also been able to help create community events in collaboration with “Take Back the Streets,” a grassroots initiative out of the west side of Syracuse to bring resources to different members of the community. These experiences have strengthened my desire to work with, and for, the various communities I am a part of, which has informed my future education and career goals.

Mariana Pérez
Lugo portrait
A Syracuse University Scholar as well as a Falk Scholar, Mariana Pérez Lugo received the 2023 Norma Slepecky Undergraduate Research Prize from Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE).

Mariana Pérez Lugo, Nutrition Science

My time at Syracuse University has truly been a journey filled with impactful moments. Joining Dr. Latha Ramalingam’s research lab during my freshman year stands out as a highlight of my undergraduate journey, particularly as I took on the role of primary author for our published manuscript. Beyond academics, I found various ways to fulfill my passion for serving others, such as volunteering with the Shaw Center’s Food Busters Program, leading the Catholic Student Association as president, and even studying abroad in Madrid, immersing myself in diverse communities and cultures.

In addition to these endeavors, my role as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician at Syracuse University Ambulance was pivotal in shaping my journey. It solidified my passion for medicine, strengthening my commitment to a personalized approach to healthcare as I work towards my goal of becoming a physician.