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Dean's Scholarship Challenge Winners Announced [MSNBC VIDEO]

Release Date:
4/3/2012 4:00 PM

Four High School Entrepreneurs Win Four-Year Scholarships to University of New Haven as Part of National Facebook Business Competition

April 3, 2012 (UPDATED April 6 with video)


University of New Haven: Larry Flanagan and John Paul DiTomasso
UNH College of Business Executive Dean Lawrence Flanagan and John-Paul DiTommaso

WEST HAVEN, CONN. --- Four entrepreneurial high school seniors from New England are the top winners in the University of New Haven’s College of Business Dean’s Scholarship Challenge competition (

The four students, who will enter UNH in the fall, are part of a national Facebook competition.  Each of them will be awarded full-tuition scholarships for four years. The prize is worth more than $120,000 for each and represents a total commitment by UNH of nearly half a million dollars. 

The online entrepreneurial business plan competition on Facebook was open to any incoming freshman or transfer student who had been accepted to the UNH College of Business by the contest deadline, March 18.

“The competition has attracted attention from all over the country and resulted in more than 100 entries,” said Lawrence Flanagan, executive dean of the college, who, as the former chief global marketing officer for MasterCard, spearheaded the famous “Priceless” advertising campaign.  “The winners have outstanding ideas and clearly demonstrate the entrepreneurial spirit that is a cornerstone of the business program at the University of New Haven.”

Entrepreneurial leadership is a hallmark of the College of Business and Flanagan noted that he was looking for students who will become the future leaders in the business world. “Many of our alumni are highly successful,” he said.  “We are looking for students with an entrepreneurial spirit who will use their education to continue that tradition of success.”

Participants were asked to create a Facebook page for a business they wish to launch. As part of the project, they defined what the business is, what it does, why it is unique, why it is needed, and how it will be positioned to achieve and sustain long-term success. The entries were judged by a panel of business leaders and UNH faculty members.

The university plans to run a similar competition next year.

The four top winners are:

- John-Paul DiTommaso, of Farmington, Conn., whose business, Turf-Guise, would treat artificial turf so it would smell like real grass and include an anti-bacterial agent to kill germs. DiTommaso plans to major in management at UNH.

- Jacob Stevenson, of Waldoboro, Maine, whose company, Algae Innovations, would provide a less expensive, green alternative to both gasoline and diesel fuel by using a fuel developed from algae.  The product could be used in either gasoline or diesel vehicles without modifications. Stevenson plans to major in management as well.

University of New Haven: Jacob Stevenson, Dean's Scholarship Challenge, 500px Jacob Stevenson

- Daniel Kiley, of Ansonia, Conn., who designed the “Ultimate Sports Complex and Resort,” a 24-hour facility that would be the “Disneyland of sports” with indoor and outdoor facilities for hockey, basketball, bowling, track and other sports, and feature more than 1,000 rooms in an adjacent hotel. Kiley plans to major in management.

University of New Haven: David Kiley, Dean's Scholarship Challenge Daniel Kiley

-Frank Dipadua, of Spencer, Mass., whose proposed business, “Cards for Causes,” would allow an individual to contribute online to a charitable cause, such as a children’s hospital or veteran’s organization, and then type out a message and select someone to receive it.  The company would then prepare and deliver a hand-written card.  Dipadua will be an undecided business major.

Twenty iPads and 40 $250 gift certificates to the UNH Bookstore were also awarded to the runners-up in the competition.  

The Dean’s Scholarship Facebook Challenge is at

The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 on the campus of Yale University in cooperation with Northeastern University, UNH moved to its current West Haven campus in 1960. The University provides its students with a unique combination of a solid liberal arts education and real-world, hands-on career and research opportunities. UNH enrolls approximately 6,400 students, including nearly 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates – the majority of whom reside in University housing. Through its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, Tagliatela College of Engineering, and University College, UNH offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. UNH students have access to more than 50 study abroad programs worldwide and its student-athletes compete in 16 varsity sports in the NCAA Division II’s highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference.

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