These Champion Scholars Are Making a Difference
Champion has had the privilege of supporting local youth by way of college scholarships since 2014. We recently checked in with the Champion Scholars Class of ’15 & ’16 to see what’s keeping them busy post-college graduation. From climbing mountains to helping build fashion empires, it’s clear these scholars haven’t slowed down at all. If you want to learn more about what it takes to become a Champion Scholar please click here.

Joseph Buckle - 2015 Recipient

$5,000 Champion Scholars Award

Joseph works as a petroleum engineer in the reservoir production group at Kaiser- Francis Oil Company in Tulsa, OK. Even from a young age, Joseph aspired to be an engineer like his dad. He studied chemical engineering at Texas A&M, but after hands-on experience he knew he wanted to work in petroleum. “I did internships watching drilling completions and decided that that was what I wanted to do.” 

Joseph misses his family in Houston but is happy to be a part of the Tulsa community. “I’m in a rebuilding phase but it gives me the opportunity to find who I am. I want to contribute to this community as best I can” he said. Although physically far away, his sister who has autism remains close to his heart and his biggest inspiration. “She has to work every day to do things that are ordinary to the both of us. She is one of the most hardworking people I know.”

When Joseph has free time he loves to be outdoors fishing or hiking. “I’ve been a fisherman most of my life so I like to go down to Rockport” (TX). Recently, he climbed three of the more than fourteen thousand foot mountains (14ers) in Colorado including Mount Elbert, Mount Harvard and Mount Yale.

Joseph is recently engaged to be married to Madeline and they are busy planning their wedding.

Joseph Buckle

Gena Palmeri

Gena Palmieri - 2015 Recipient

$3,000 Champion Scholars Award

Gena works for as an analyst for Deloitte in San Francisco. She especially enjoys her work with clients in the fashion and retail industry as she has a passion for fashion. “I get to integrate all sides of fashion, business, and data” she said. “It’s been really interesting to work with so many businesses and understand the fundamental problems that they’re having.”

Gena’s passion for fashion started from a young age. “I always had an inclination for it,” she said. “I would take a word document and then copy and paste the clothes I wanted from Gap. I would dream about designing clothes.” Although she considered a career in fashion, she said “a more realistic side of me wanted to focus on business.”

At Notre Dame, Gena studied IT Management and Data Science. Her most valuable class was called “Foresight” in which she looked at different scenarios and predicted how the market would change under different circumstances. “It was very challenging and hard,” she said. She also really liked her “Design Thinking” class. “It allowed me to be a bit more creative and learn about web design.”

She is inspired by female entrepreneurs in the fashion / beauty industries including Tyler Haney, founder of Outdoor Voices. “It’s really cool that she’s created this brand that emphasizes community and prioritizes exercise and having fun,” she said. She also admires Marianna Hewitt, cofounder of Summer Fridays. “She has built a brand, but also has her own podcast with the voices of women.” Like those who inspire her, Gena hopes to one day have a business or a blog.

In her free time, Gena likes to run and explore the outdoors. “In San Francisco the weather is usually nice, in the 50s and 60s. I like to go to the farmer’s market and get flowers and spend time with friends and family. Those are the things that bring me happiness,” she said.

Edemanwan Ephraim - 2016 Recipient

$5,000 Champion Scholars Award

Edemanwan works as a supply chain leader at Frito Lay in Rosenberg, Texas. She manages a team and strategizes optimal efficiency. “I make it a priority to come up with solutions to help my team” she said. When her team became frustrated that the previous shift did not properly “load up,” she took action. “I started to design a new process where the previous shift would have to perform better and complete the job.” Each group must rate the group before them to keep everyone accountable. “If a group receives a low rating, the manager can get involved as needed.”

Prior to her job, Edemanwan attended The University of Texas where she studied mechanical engineering and was an active member of the National Society of Black Engineers. During a NSBE club meeting, “Frito Lay made a great pitch” she said. Edemanwan first interned at the Frito Lay headquarters as part of the engineering and warehouse automation team.

Her favorite class was senior design in which her team built a 3-D food printer that was supposed to print out a food product. “It was all on us to design it, build it, make it work. We put icing in it and it printed designs on cookies” she said.

Prior to college, Edemanwan exceled in high school calculus and physics and knew she wanted to continue to explore them. Her physics teacher made it enjoyable and also motivated her to do well in the class. “He was so smart and taught me so much,” she said.

When Edemanwan isn’t working she enjoys video games, especially the Walking Dead video game. She also began weight lifting to keep busy during quarantine.

Edemanwan Ephraim