Baker Institute Awards Spotlight Entrepreneurial Mindset & Accessibility

Virtual ceremony honors alumni, faculty and students.

Paul Martino talks with Lehigh students

Paul Martino '95 talks with students at LehighSiliconValley in 2019.

Paul Martino ’95 laid out a call-to-action as he accepted the Farrington Award for Outstanding Commitment to Entrepreneurship at Lehigh on April 21, as The Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation presented its annual awards in a virtual ceremony.

“I think entrepreneurship is the single most important thing we can do in the United States to promote equity, to promote people advancing themselves and to solve the massive structural issues that are in front of us,” said Martino, in his acceptance speech. “But in order for us to do that, entrepreneurship needs to be open to everybody, it needs to be accessible to everybody. Because if it's available to everyone, you can change your lot in life.”

The Farrington Award is the highest accolade bestowed by the Baker Institute. Past recipients have included Dale Falcinelli ’70 ’72G, Alita Friedman ’87, Tom Gillis ’14P ’17P ’19P, and Joan Thalheimer.

Paul Martino '95

Paul Martino '95

Martino, a successful entrepreneur, has started many businesses, including Bullpen Capital, where he currently serves as general partner. He’s also been a key player in Baker’s flagship LehighSiliconValley program. 

“Paul Martino is an extremely accomplished player in the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Lisa Getzler, Baker Institute’s executive director. “He continues to give generously of his time to the Baker Institute. He carries on conversations with our students well past the dates of our programs and provides many with ongoing support and advice. He rallies other Lehigh alumni in the Bay Area and has raised the level of entrepreneurial discourse at Lehigh.”

As part of the ceremony, multiple awards were presented to students and faculty who achieved excellence in entrepreneurship during the 2020-2021 school year. 

Kristi Morin

Kristi Morin

  • Kristi Morin, an assistant professor of special education in the College of Education was awarded the John B. Ochs Teaching Award, which is presented to a young faculty member who has taken initiative and risks in teaching by embracing entrepreneurship and/or entrepreneurial mindset learning.

    Morin mentored the Global Social Impact Fellowship project, “Diagnosing Autism in Africa,” a team that also was recognized as a 2021 Davis Projects for Peace winner during the evening.

    In accepting the award, Morin said, “The real world challenges we address in special education may look different than those tackled by people in other fields, but they involve the same creative thinking and focus on the “customer” (in our case teachers, parents, and individuals with disabilities) that is inherent in the definition of the entrepreneurial mindset.”  She credited her success to the support received from the Office of Creative Inquiry and its staff, who support the Global Social Impact Fellowships.
Marc de Vinck

Marc de Vinck

  • Marc de Vinck, professor of practice, mechanical engineering & mechanics and director of the Technical Entrepreneurship Master’s program, received the John Ochs Faculty Achievement Award in Recognition of Curriculum and Program Innovation and Building the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem at Lehigh. The award celebrates substantive long-term contributions made by a faculty member. He made the decision to leave his role as director of TE to fully reengage in his own entrepreneurial endeavors.

    “He has dedicated his talent, experience, knowledge and expertise for the past nine years to the education of and benefit to hundreds of Lehigh students,” Getzler said. “During his tenure he set the standard for experiential, hands-on learning in graduate entrepreneurship education. His total commitment to his student's development of their entrepreneurial mindset and skills will be greatly missed by the TE Master’s program leaders, students and alumni.” 
Steven Escobar-Mendez ’22

Steven Escobar-Mendez ’22

  • Steven Escobar-Mendez ’22, Sareena Karim '22, and Sahib Saini '22 received the RK Laros Foundation Endowed Prize for Entrepreneurship, Creativity & Innovation, a monetary prize that recognizes students who have participated in Baker Institute programs and demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit. 

    Escobar-Mendez ‘22 said an entrepreneurial mindset was a shift that helped him be more grateful and see problems as opportunities.
Sareena Karim ‘22

Sareena Karim ‘22

“Thanks to that mindset, I'm currently helping a non-governmental organization in Columbia in reviving after the civil war, so I believe that the Hatchery, the Baker Institute has really helped me in preparing not only future goals, knowing, step by step, what to do in order to reach them,” he said.

View all award winners

Sahib Saini '22

Sahib Saini '22

The event also featured student testimonials, including one from Emma Kwasnoski ’20 ’21G. She shared the powerful takeaways gleaned from her first entrepreneurship class at Lehigh. 

“I learned that entrepreneurship can be a means to address problems I’ve experienced, that are meaningful to me, and that have a social impact,” she said. “Through entrepreneurship, I melded my interests in engineering, design and equity. As an undergraduate, I led a venture to combat harassment that female runners experience. Now, in graduate school, I’m building a business to improve the pelvic exam experience and ultimately, address issues of equity in healthcare.” 

Kwasnoski’s latest project, Advocan, won the audience-driven People’s Choice award earlier in April. 

As part of the ceremony, the Baker Institute Fellowships were introduced. Composed of students and alumni who have shown commitment to and excellence in entrepreneurship through their participation in Baker Institute programs, the initiative will provide opportunities for professional development, personal growth, and strengthening the Lehigh entrepreneurial community. 

“We've known for several years that creating a designation and set of resources for the students who have explored their entrepreneurial mindset, participated in a multitude of programs, as well as working to solve problems that matter at a higher level than most, was important,” Getzler said.

Seventeen students and alumni were part of the inaugural Baker Fellows and many of them participated as award presenters throughout the Celebrate event. 

Story by Samantha McGinty Dutton

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