Student Entrepreneurs

SUNY Old Westbury’s very own students have gone above and beyond in their process of achieving their degrees. Emily Stanzini, Tray Gatsby, Jamar Ross and Samuel Ariyibi have become entrepreneurs in the pursuit of their careers. From selling books to writing their own, these students have worked to make something out of their college experience. These talented entrepreneurs have used their own experiences in life in the projects they created hoping to benefit those around them.

Tray Gatsby recently published his book titled Nigga.  Nigga is about a boy named Richard who grew up in the public housing complex in the Bronx. Richard faces many adversities growing up because of his environment and those around him. He encounters a rich entrepreneur man in which he has to make a decision to work with to benefit his future. “This book is about the reality of life in poverty. The truth about what’s going on in these poverty stricken neighborhoods in the Bronx. The real discussions happening in these public housing complexes. I held nothing back. It’ll offend some, but it’ll inspire the ones that can relate or want the raw truth. You get to experience NYC public housing up close and personal through the eyes of Richard,” stated Gatsby.

Gatsby was inspired to write this book because he comes from the projects in the Bronx and often disagreed with his parents on what was best for him.

Gatsby stated that many stories involving people from “the hood” often get killed or in jail, but his story leads to something different. Gatsby wants to inspire those who live in poverty or grew up in a tough neighborhood that it is possible for them to succeed in life. “I want my book to inspire and teach. It’s very entertaining, but there’s gems throughout the book. I put the medicine in the candy and fed the reader through the entertainment,” stated Gatsby.

Gatsby was not thinking of writing a book until he heard about the book of a former Rikers Island corrections officer who wrote about the wrongful things that happen inside Rikers. The author self-published his book and was able to talk about his experiences.

Gatsby began writing Nigga while taking a summer course in San Francisco. He failed his courses because he was focused on writing the book rather than class. “I just loved writing this book because I got a lot of things off my chest and I knew I was writing something important and different that could push the culture forward. This story is also inspired by real life events that either I went through or my childhood friends went through. I never knew how wrong it was to grow up the way we did until I began writing this book. Traumatizing situations were normalized in our communities,” stated Gatsby.

Although people may find the title of his book to be controversial, Gatsby wants people to think of the word in a positive way, the way legendary 2 Pac Shakur did, “Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished.”  Gatsby stated, “I also titled my book Nigga because I was inspired by Dick Gregory’s autobiography titled Nigger. I felt it was bold and caught my attention. I wanted to be bold too and catch readers attention by the title. So far it’s been working.”

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Emily Stanzini is a freshman majoring in psychology. While getting through her first year of college she has managed to publish her own book titled Poems for the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. The book is based on her struggles with self-harm. Stanzini has been writing poetry since 7th grade to express her emotions that she didn’t know how to deal with. Stanzini has dealt with suicidal thoughts, an eating disorder, and self-harm for a couple of years. She is diagnosed with

Stanzini began working on her book on January 31st 2017 and published by February 16th, 2017. About a year ago she was not comfortable with sharing her poems, but her teachers gave her the push she needed. The idea began with her high school teacher publishing one of her poems in magazine, and encouraging her that her work is valuable. Professor Chamigliozi was the one who gave her that extra encouragement to publish.

Stanzini’s father had a “Meet the Author” event at his job and she sold her books and signed them to his employees. “My professor’s, friends,

She has become more open about her mental health illness in her efforts to encourage others to overcome their struggles. This has also helped her from self-harming herself.

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Jamar Ross and Samuel Ariyibi have started their own company known as Texchange. Texchange is a book exchange company that was launched to make books that are needed for courses more affordable for college students. Ross is the CEO and founder, who graduated Spring 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Media and Communications. Ariyibi is the co-founder, a current junior majoring in PEL.

Ross developed the idea from personal experience. He realized that many students, including himself had books that others needed but wouldn’t think to sell them. Ross also felt as though paying tuition is really expensive. “I was at a point where I couldn’t afford textbooks, and I was forced to take some time off because of the fact that I couldn’t afford certain expenses such as textbooks,” said Ross.

For now, Texchange is just a book exchange, but Ross’s and Ariyibi’s plans to allow a networking opportunities for students. Soon they hope that students can contact each other in need for tutoring and studying through their website. They also want to bring in student designers and developers to help build Texchange and give them an opportunity for experience.

“If you have a strong mind and you have a strong will, you can really do anything in life,” stated Ross. Ariyibi stated that there have been many people have doubted their business and even denied them from joining their email list-serve, but they both continue to have persistence and drive to make Texchange grow.

To “Texchange” your books, email stating the books you want to sell and they’ll take it from there.