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Alicia Schmidtendorff receives $2,500 Independent Innovator Network scholarship

Alicia Schmidtendorff

SAU senior Alicia Schmidtendorff has recently been awarded a $2,500 state-wide innovation scholarship for her business idea. A health and exercise major, marketing minor and member of SAU’s track and cross-country teams, Schmidtendorff was awarded the scholarship by Michigan Colleges Alliance (MCA) through its Independent Innovators Network (IIN) scholarship program.

The IIN awards scholarships based on the strength of student applications outlining a business or social entrepreneurship concept. Schmidtendorff pitched the idea of an app called Reconnect, which would allow students on college campuses to connect over shared recreational interests. Schmidtendorff has been working on the idea for years — long before she found out about the IIN scholarship through an email from SAU professor of business and management Dr. Caleb Chan. She hopes to, one day, make the app a reality.

Schmidtendorff’s entry was reviewed by MCA board members, scholarship donors and representatives from partner entrepreneurial organizations across the state. This year’s review panel included representatives from Steelcase, Ford Motor Company, PVS Chemicals and ASG Renaissance, as well as MCA faculty. Reviewers looked for comprehensiveness, clarity, relevance, viability and innovation in applications.

Schmidtendorff was one of 25 applicants across 11 schools, and one of six winners awarded a scholarship for her idea. Scholarships awarded ranged from $2,500 to $7,500. Any student attending one of the 14 member colleges and universities of MCA can apply.

“It feels amazing to be chosen for the Independent Innovator,” says Schmidtendorff. “I have put time and hard work into this idea, but I still could not believe it when I found out that I was chosen alongside many other incredible and talented individuals.”

Faculty who sponsored winning students also received a $500 stipend. SAU assistant professor of marketing Dr. Allen Knight was Schmidtendorff’s faculty mentor.

Schmidtendorff says leadership opportunities and academic programs at SAU helped her win this award.

“Spring Arbor University has opened a lot of doors to let me grow and pursue my passions,” says Schmidtendorff. “This can be from the professors who are willing and able to meet with you to discuss course work and questions, to the amazing student body who pushes one another to succeed.”