Lafayette is helping a talented group of first-generation and underrepresented students become the next generation of innovators. With financial support, specialized training, and mentorship, these budding entrepreneurs will be able to launch their own venture by their senior year
The Dyer Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship launched a new four-year program to develop the next generation of innovators, students unafraid to brush off failures and turn ideas into impact.
Designing Your Entrepreneurial Roadmap (D.Y.E.R.) fellows combine Lafayette’s extensive classroom resources, a broad range of liberal arts thinking, a committed alumni network, and robust experiential learning. Over four years, D.Y.E.R. fellows enhance entrepreneurial thinking and skills, hone personal understanding, leverage hands-on ventures, and develop broad-based networks. Fellows earn a monthly stipend. For those who move through the rigors of each year, their junior year culminates with a $4,000 investment in an entrepreneurial venture.
The program is specifically focused on students who have lacked access to the innovation marketplace, specifically underrepresented and first-generation college students. “We want to widen the circle and welcome the amazing talent of first-generation and underrepresented groups who have the ideas and desire to change the world,” says Yusuf Dahl, director of the center.
Swetha Tadisina ’25 | Hometown: Hyderabad, India
“I identified the fellowship as a very special opportunity to put my education to use—as I lift myself up through education and then in turn, lift people up through entrepreneurship. I want to dedicate my career to nation-building in India. I want to build solutions and systems for people back home through the fields of science and technology. As a fellow, I really want to build myself as a servant leader and begin identifying answers for community development in the 21st century.”
Jahi Heath ’25 | Hometown: Washington, D.C.
“I want to cultivate my passion for entrepreneurship. Having an entrepreneurial mindset is very beneficial in all aspects of life. I’m hoping to grow my business, Kickback, and learn how to be a successful entrepreneur. I want to grow as a leader, spokesman, and philanthropist.”
Daniel Andrade ’25 | Hometown: Quito, Ecuador
“I hope to build an entrepreneurial idea I am passionate about and meaningful relationships with a wide variety of people. Coming from Ecuador to study in the U.S., I was always worried about what the clash of different cultures and mindsets. This all changed when I met the rest of my D.Y.E.R. fellows and everyone involved in the Dyer Center. I had never imagined that people with such different backgrounds could have such a similar drive to succeed and leave their own mark in this world.”
Danny Weispfenning ’25 | Hometown: Ridgewood, N.J.
“There’s no better place on campus to get involved with entrepreneurship than the Dyer Center. I’m hoping to apply an entrepreneurial mindset in the renewable energy sector. This fellowship has opened up a myriad of resources and opportunities on and off campus. I just have to manage my time properly, so I can get everything I can from this fellowship.”
Dina Azar ’25 | Hometown: Cresskill, N.J.
“I plan to pursue my interests in Middle Eastern relations, specifically the refugee crisis and relief for the youth in countries like Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen. I am extremely excited for this opportunity because we are getting taught by entrepreneurs who have different mindsets and experiences that we learn so much from just over a conversation during dinner.”
Virginia Sacotingo ’25 | Hometown: Alexandria, Va.
“I am a social entrepreneur and want to find how to best deliver my organization, SELAH (Serving Every Living being At Heart), to communities in a way that has not already been done as we strive for racial reconciliation. There are always skills to learn and a mindset to cultivate as an entrepreneur, so I am hoping to learn as much as I can about myself as an entrepreneur. Coming across a fellowship like D.Y.E.R., with the value of connections and opportunities found here, is rare.”