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Carmita Semaan ’04, Jessica Tsai ’17, Karlo Young ’15, were among the students and alumni named 2017 Youn Impact Scholars.

youn impact scholars 2017

Kellogg announces 2017 Youn Impact Scholars

Diverse group embody spirit and social action of award’s namesake

By Cheryl SooHoo

2/16/2017 - The driving force behind the creation of the Kellogg Youn Impact Scholars four years ago was a goal to foster more social change agents like Andrew Youn ‘06. The program recently welcomed a new group of likeminded Kellogg students and alumni, five student and five alumni Youn Impact Scholars who will join the ranks of this elite network that now numbers 40.

From the CEO of a $2 billion cooking equipment company employing his skills and assets to assist refugees, to a student using technology to help former inmates find jobs, the 2017 cohort exemplifies the depth and breadth of what Kellogg leaders can accomplish in the social impact space. “Whether they are using their business platforms to forge progress or launching social startups, these scholars are using everything they have to make a difference,” says Megan Kashner, clinical assistant professor and director of social impact at Kellogg.

The honor of joining other Youn Impact Scholars humbles Njideka Harry ’12, who left a job at Microsoft in 2000 to start the Youth for Technology Foundation to fight poverty and social disconnection using innovation in technology education. “Great things in business are never done by one person but rather a team of people,” she says. “I look forward to learning more and sharing.”

Jessica Tsai ’17 sees opportunities to further raise awareness about a topic “near and dear” to her heart: empowering young women in China. Tsai is involved in social startup QuickPulse International, a Chinese venture that uses a B2B gamified NPS employee platform to gain insights on what China’s millennial workforce needs to improve performance and retention. Making an impact on K-12 education in his Baltimore community through volunteerism and leadership, Karlo Young ’15 finds exhilarating the prospect of pooling intellectual capital and resources from the Youn Impact Scholars network. “It’s impressive to see how Kellogg is harnessing resources and talent to focus on positive social change,” says the vice president and general manager of 2U, Inc., an education technology company. “I am excited to join my fellow scholars to further push the envelope on social innovation.”

Distinct Endeavors
The program accepts and encourages applications and nominations for students and alumni from a wide array of fields and enterprises. Carmita Semaan ’04, for example, saw her own trajectory transformed by high-quality education and now works every day to fuel the leadership that will transform the educations and lives of children from backgrounds like hers. While none of the new Youn Impact Scholars is a perfect clone of One Acre Fund Founder Andrew Youn, newly graduating scholars David Piza ’17 and Saumya ’17 both have a passion for agricultural growth and supporting small farmers. Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability for S&D Coffee & Tea, Colombia-based Piza cultivates relationships with farming communities to create prosperity along the value chain. In 2015 Saumya co-founded Kheyti, an India-based venture focused on delivering low cost “greenhouses-in-a-box” to improve crop yield and provide farmers a dependable income. Consulting with Andrew Youn while building her startup, Saumya draws considerable strength from his story and the assurance she is on the right path.

“Whenever I feel I am struggling with my work, I remember how Andrew started such a huge movement in a country he had never been to,” says Saumya. “His humility and perseverance are simply inspirational.”

Here is a full list of this year’s Youn Impact Scholars:

  • Selim Bassoul ’81, Middleby
  • Jorge Calderon ’03, Eddily
  • Njideka Harry ’12, Youth for Technology Foundation
  • Carmita Semaan ’04, Surge Institute
  • Karlo Young ’15, 2U Inc.
  • David Piza C. ’17
  • H. Kay Howard ’17
  • Jessica Tsai ’17
  • Saumya ’17
  • Tiffany Smith ’17