Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Enterpreneurship in Action: Nine StFX students receive Wallace Family Internships 

May 11th, 2021
L-r, Top row: Richard Grant and Donald Jewkes, Emma Kuzmyk, and Tania Tesson. Bottom: Mbongeni Ndlovu, Cayla Olynyk, Thalia Puac and Adelaide Strickland. Missing: Liam Johnston

Nine StFX students have been awarded 2021 Wallace Family Internships that will allow them to pursue their unique business ideas and gain 12 weeks of full-time employment over the next few months. 

Successful recipients include Mbongeni Ndlovu and Liam Johnston; Richard Grant and Donald Jewkes; Thalia Puac and Cayla Olynyk; Emma Kuzmyk and Adelaide Strickland; and Tania Tesson, who will receive coaching and assistance from StFX staff and faculty mentors and engage in learning activities that help them explore and develop an enterprise venture. 

StFX DiscoverBox administers the Wallace Family Entrepreneurship Fund, which provides April to July internships to StFX students who have an enterprise idea and who are interested in starting a new venture, developing a new prototype, or applying innovative approaches to a particular product or service.

This year’s recipients and their projects follow below:

Mbongeni Ndlovu/Liam Johnston, Fitness Training App by AI

Computer science student Mbongeni Ndlovu and Liam Johnston’s project focuses on building the data infrastructure and a software application that strength and conditioning coaches can use to either enhance their training programming workflows or automate their ability to prepare training programs for athletes, based on their sport, position and individual characteristics. The app will also be able to make rehabilitation training programs based on a specific injury and all the muscles associated with it, he says. The two say data is the gold of the 21st century. Significant systems that are built on top of Artificial Intelligence (AI) require large amounts of high-quality data that is insightful and actionable. Strength and conditioning coaches manually design individual training programs for each athlete they are responsible for. This task is time and labour intensive as coaches account for many variables when creating training programs. Organizations such as universities with smaller budgets cannot afford to hire teams of strength coaches to manage the needs of all athletes, they say. Coaches typically end up making one single training program for a whole team, which negatively affects the athletes as these programs are too general and do not consider the individual needs. “Each athlete is unique and requires individualized training programs targeting their current needs and abilities, while also considering physical limitations the individual may have, such as an injury. There is currently no data that can be used to train intelligent systems that can make conditioning programs for athletes based on their sport, position, and abilities, therefore, one must be created. The conditioning programs made by coaches come in many different forms (spreadsheets, PDF’s, text files, etc.) and are presented differently based on the coach that prepares the program. All of these conditioning programs made by coaches were designed to be given to athletes and not for computers to understand. Thus, the data will be built from the ground up using first principles thinking and will be specifically designed in such a way that computers can understand the information that it receives and build cohesive training program plans that take into consideration the muscles, equipment available, past injuries, and training goals for the sport, position, and athlete.” 

Richard Grant/Donald Jewkes, Liven Beverages

Mr. Grant is a third year Schwartz School marketing student and Mr. Jewkes is a fourth year computer science student. In Liven they hope to produce and market Canada's first craft protein kefir, which is a fermented, probiotic milk beverage. “Our goal is to create a protein probiotic for general health conscious consumers to drink after a workout or as a tasty healthy post-meal dessert. So far we have produced a "looks like acts like prototype" in a small portion of the Antigonish Farmers’ Market kitchen. We are aiming to scale up production to then launch our Liven at the farmers’ market,” they say. The duo have food safe testing underway with Perennia food and beverage innovation in Truro, NS. They are also conducting market research and an introductory marketing campaign in anticipation of the product’s launch and hope to use the resources provided from the Wallace Family Internship to scale up the business, allowing them to conduct better product testing with Perennia and to expand production to enter other farmers’ markets. 

Thalia Puac/Cayla Olynyk, Dream Bean Yogart

The two fourth year nutrition students are working on a pulse-based yogurt sweetened with imperfect local fruit to satisfy the gap in the market for non-coconut-based dairy-free yogurt. “By using local, sustainably sourced, nutritious ingredients, this product would support local farmers and manufacturers in the Antigonish area who are seeking to reduce their waste,” they say. “It would satisfy the needs and wants of the environmentally and economically conscious consumer as well as seniors impacted by illnesses or disabilities.” Pulses, they say, are the dried edible seeds of plants in the legume family and in Canada they are grown across the prairie provinces, southern Ontario, and Quebec. Pulses contain high amounts of protein, fibre and folate, and may be effective in reducing risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. “As human nutrition students of BSAD 356/HNU 471, we have built an effective founding team and want to move this work beyond the classroom to build our venture knowledge and skills. After the cancellation of Mission Delicious last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to use this opportunity to take our ideas and learn not just product development, but also market and industry analysis. We have demonstrated our capacity for initiative and self-direction through our work as advanced major and honours students. Thalia’s project focuses on local blueberry production, while Cayla is exploring the experiences of student athletes with exercise-related gut distress. With shared values in health and a sustainable future we aim to address the current gap in the market for plant-based yogurts.”

Emma Kuzmyk/Adelaide Strickland, Tales of Activism and lessons of Sexual Violence on campus

Ms. Strickland, a fourth year BA honours development studies student, and Ms. Kuzmyk, a fourth year BA English honours student, will work on a project that will see them produce an anthology of student essays, poems, speeches, and artwork centering the experience of fighting sexual violence on university campuses. The anthology will consist of three sections: 1) What We Faced: stories about combatting rape culture, institutional inaction, and insufficient policies. 2) What We Built: stories about the programs, positions, and policies achieved through student activism. 3) How We Survived: stories about building networks of support, practicing community care, and overcoming adversity amidst protest and unrest. “Throughout the anthology, we will also include ‘tips and tricks’ for readers doing similar work, collected from our own experience and from each of our contributors,” they say. “Evidently, we hope that this project produces a publishable anthology of student voices. We hope that it will serve as somewhat of a guide or motivation for student activists in years to come—we certainly know that it would have been useful to us in pursuing our own activist ventures to read about what others were doing to combat similar issues. The learning outcome of working on a project such as this is also something we’re looking forward to—in learning new skills, making connections, and gaining experience in a field relevant to what we’d like to do.”

Tania Tesson, Naturally Me - A Shift to Cultural Appreciation

Ms. Tesson, a fourth year sociology student, says she created Naturally Me, which now produces face masks, “to have everyone experience another culture with the confidence of knowing about it. At the same time, tackling the cultural appropriation phenomenon continuously dividing us.” She says Naturally Me is aimed at showing appreciation and respect to other cultures. “I have decided to express that through clothing and starting with the Naturally Me masks, my current project under the Xaverian Innovation and Entrepreneurs Micro-Grant.” Ms. Tesson says she recognizes that it is hard to celebrate and appreciate the world's cultures by fear of cultural appropriation. “To tackle cultural appropriation, we need a shift to cultural appreciation. Giving the facts and story behind the fabrics used in each design will help that. It will also educate and allow people to provide the proper respect and appreciation to our world's cultures. Education on what cultural appreciation is can also provoke the change from cultural appropriation.” In this internship, she wants to explore a continuum of Naturally Me's mission: to tackle cultural appropriation and transform it into cultural appreciation. She is hoping to create social change through fashion and education. She would like to take Naturally Me a step further and develop children's books that will educate on cultural appreciation and acceptance of different cultures. Additionally, she wants to work on a t-shirt design in collaboration with people of different cultural backgrounds. Like the Naturally Me masks, each t-shirt will come with a flyer containing information about the fabrics and designs used. 

Start Your Journey