Five years ago, School of Information Studies (iSchool) senior Adrian Hatch received a brochure in the mail from Syracuse University – it was an advertisement for Summer College, a program that offers high school students an opportunity to explore college majors and experience college life through summer course offerings.

Hatch, then in his junior year of high school, was familiar with Syracuse, as an older high school friend had come here – but what caught his eye that day was the listing for a class on web design – the iSchool’s IST 263 course

“I had always wanted to learn about web design,” said Hatch, “so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do that, as well as find out what college would be like, so I signed up.”

After only a few days on campus, Hatch was hooked.

“My time at Summer College was really positive,” he recalled. “I knew that finding the right place to go to college would be difficult, but after my first week at Syracuse that summer, I felt like I was settled. I really enjoyed my experience, and by the end of the class, I knew I would apply to Syracuse.”

Finding the iSchool

And Hatch wasn’t only interested in Syracuse – he was specifically interested in the iSchool.

“I met [iSchool academic advising and student engagement director] Julie Walas Huynh that summer, and she introduced me to the iSchool, and some people here, including [digital strategy director] Mike Clarke,” said Hatch.

Clarke was impressed with Hatch and his work, and offered him a position working on the iSchool’s website when he returned as a freshman a year later.

“I can say without question that Adrian is one of the most talented and hard-working students I have come across in my nearly ten years teaching and working at Syracuse,” said Clarke. “He has proven to be an essential part of our team, lending his expertise, creativity and positive attitude to everything he does, and I am proud to have been a part of his time here at Syracuse.”

Entrepreneurship Interests

With his on-campus employment secured, Hatch then turned to his interest in entrepreneurship.

“I knew that Syracuse had a good reputation for entrepreneurship programs, and I thought that college would be a good time to get involved in something like that and try it out,” Hatch said.

So after applying to Syracuse as an early decision admit, Hatch signed up for the Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship (CIE) residential learning community based out of the Dellplain Residence Hall.

Residential learning communities at Syracuse help to create an academically supportive environment for students by allowing them to live together around common academic interests, and take courses together.

“I spent my first year in the Dellplain community and really enjoyed it, so I kept doing it for two more semesters, and then served as a mentor afterwards,” said Hatch. “It piqued my interest in entrepreneurship, and introduced me to the larger entrepreneurship community at the University and in the City of Syracuse.”

Hatch’s connections with the entrepreneurship community allowed him to take an internship with Rosie – a company that developed a mobile application for grocery ordering and delivery.

“I also took the ‘What’s the Big Idea?’ class at the recommendation of iSchool professor Bruce Kingma – he knew I was interested in starting a company, so he encouraged me to take that class, and it taught me to think in a new way,” said Hatch, “it taught me to think like an entrepreneur.”

‘What’s the Big Idea’ (IDS 401) is a course in the iSchool’s minor, Information Technology, Design, and Startups, that helps students learn how to develop, grow, and vet ideas and build teams that are ready to create a product, service, or business.

With a couple of entrepreneurship courses under his belt, Hatch and a classmate built a mobile application to connect hobbyists with each other. “It was like a LinkedIn for people with different hobbies,” Hatch explained. “You could find other enthusiasts working on the same hobby, share information, connect with them.”

“And while building the app was a good experience, what happened is that I had a greater interest around the team than the app itself, so we pivoted to become a business that builds applications and websites for other companies,” said Hatch. “It’s a fully functioning partnership with several clients, including a biotechnology startup that we’re working with now to build a website and a mobile app.”

What’s Next

After graduation later this month, Hatch isn’t going too far. He’ll be back in Hinds Hall as a graduate student in the iSchool’s Information Management master’s program, and working part time for the iSchool’s Technology Services group managing one of the building’s computer labs. Hatch also plans to pursue a graduate certificate in data science along with his master’s degree.

“And after my master’s, my options are really open,” said Hatch. “I’ve set myself up with a lot of things that I can choose from, and I’m hoping the path will show up as a result of my hard work. 

That path, according to Hatch, might be one that takes him to the West Coast.

“I learned early on through an internship that a corporate job wasn’t for me,” Hatch recalled, “but on the iSchool’s Spring Break in Silicon Valley trip, I was introduced to the idea of working for a fast-paced small startup, and it really intrigued me.”

When asked to provide some advice for current students, Hatch was quick to point out the importance of following your interests.

“For classes, make sure what you’re taking is something that actually interests you, not something you’re taking just for the sake of fulfilling an elective,” he recommended. “And the same for clubs and extra curricular activities – make sure it’s sharpening the saw you have.”

For Hatch, who filled his undergraduate years with course work, his own business, part time jobs, and clubs, it was important to be be busy. “You define the size of your plate,” he explained. “And while everyone has a finite amount of attention they can give things, and you don’t want to overdo it, I thought it was important to fill my bandwidth all the way.”

Top Honors

When Hatch walks across the stages at the iSchool’s Convocation ceremony and the University’s commencement this weekend, he’ll be wearing a University Scholar medallion, the highest academic honor at Syracuse University. 

Scholars are selected using criteria that includes coursework and academic achievement, independent research and creative work, a personal statement and faculty letters of recommendation.

“I am honored and thrilled to be named a 2016 University Scholar,” said Hatch. “Syracuse and its community have helped me find my dreams and the direction to chase them, and the iSchool has been a better home than I ever could have imagined. I am overjoyed to be able to represent the school that has done so much for me, and the community that has been such a family to me.”