Published 01/30/17

Alumni and parent mentors integral to IDEA success

When Andrew Corrado ’87 attended new student orientation with his son, Andrew Jr. ’20, and heard about the bootcamp-style program teaching design thinking for all first-year students, he knew he wanted to be a part of it.

“I’ve taken IBM-sponsored classes on innovative ways of problem solving,” says the Senior Vice President, Group Director, of Signature Bank in Melville, NY. “It’s really forward-thinking for Bryant to be infusing this into the curriculum for freshmen.”

All innovation, all the time

The fifth annual Innovation and Design Experience for All (IDEA) program for first-year students concluded just before the start of Bryant’s spring semester, and it was a resounding success. IDEA is a three-day immersion that guides students through the three phases of design thinking: inspiration, ideation, and implementation, followed by iteration. The program focuses on encouraging innovation and creativity across all disciplines, and students work in teams charged with generating creative solutions to real-world situations in everything from the arts to social services to the business sector.

“It’s really forward-thinking for Bryant to be infusing this into the curriculum for freshmen."

The mentors throughout the program are volunteers – faculty, staff, parents, and alumni – who are there to guide and encourage students to brainstorm and try new solutions. And to fail.

“I was really drawn in by innovation and outside-the-box thinking,” says David Shannon ’17, a finance and applied analytics double major who served as a peer mentor this year. “I also really bought into the whole concept that it is all right to fail.”

Like Andrew Corrado Sr., Michael Shannon, David’s father, learned about IDEA during his son’s orientation. “We just kept hearing about this IDEA program,” says Michael, a retired managing director of FedEx, “and I thought it sounded an awful lot like what I’ve been doing in my career for 30 years.” This past IDEA program session was Michael’s fourth time serving as a mentor.

Mentoring future leaders

IDEA program mentors last beyond the three-day session. “I had mentors and people who helped me be successful. It’s now my time to come back and help mentor the future leaders of our country,” said Jeffrey Fryer ’91,  P ’19, Vice President and Chief Tax Officer at Alexion Pharmaceuticals, a global biotechnology company that develops treatments for devastating rare diseases. Networking with Jeffrey during IDEA is how David found his first internship.

“When I was fresh out of college, the idea of mentors were people further along in their careers with whom you had little actual interaction. You just watched and emulated,” says Andrew. “Now mentors are much more interactive and involved. Some of the students in my cohort have already connected with me through LinkedIn, and I’m happy to help them beyond their college careers. I will definitely be participating in IDEA again.”

If you're interesting in mentoring in the IDEA program, email Alumni Engagement with the subject line: IDEA mentor.