Seven alumni to receive Rising Star Awards

Seven alumni to receive Rising Star Awards

The University of Bridgeport Alumni Association will present seven extraordinary young alumni with Rising Star Awards and present its annual undergraduate scholarship during Homecoming Weekend at 11 a.m., Sunday, October 7, 2018.

Rising Star Awards honor alumni under 40 who are excelling in their fields, leading and influencing others, and making a difference. This year’s winners are Vincencia Adusei ’02, ’05, Erik David Barber ’05, Dr. Robert Brody ’14, Angelica Castillo ’10, Jesse Jones ’16, Alicia Robinson ’07, ’08, and David Salinas ’02.

The Alumni Association Scholarship will be awarded to Richard Greo ’20. Worth $10,000, it is presented to one junior or senior a year based on academic merit and financial need.

“It is incredibly exciting to see our University of Bridgeport alumni flourish as this group of Rising Stars has done,” said Aimee Marcella, interim vice president of university advancement. “We’re thrilled to honor these talented men and women during Homecoming. Their talent, drive, and contributions enrich so many.”

Vincencia Adusei is founder, president, and construction manager of Vase Construction LLC and VASE Management LLC, a private, construction-management organization based in Bridgeport. VASE has worked for Yale University, the Town of Fairfield, New Haven Housing Authority, and Connecticut’s Department of Housing.

An alumni of the University’s MBA program whose parents owned a construction company in her native Ghana, Adusei founded Vincencia Adusei Special Events, or VASE, as part of an internship while she attended UB. That experience eventually inspired her to develop VASE Construction and VASE Management.

Adusei serves on the board of directors for the Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, and for Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust’s Continuum of Care Committee, a supportive housing non-profit organization.

She has been recognized by numerous organizations including but not limited to: the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Congressman Jim Himes, the Caribbean World Chamber of Commerce, Fairfield County Business Journal‘s 40 Under 40, National Association for Women in Construction: CT Chapter, and Heroes’ Villages.

Erik David Barber is a luxury residential real estate agency at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty and a member of The Gulf Luxe Team, named the No. 1 residential real estate team in Naples, Florida. Having represented some of the most expensive home and condo sales within select Naples communities, Barber has distinguished himself by his work for diverse clientele.

He is an advocate for Keep Collier Beautiful and a member of PETA, Heal the Bay (Los Angeles), The Humane Society of the United States, and Save Japan Dolphins. In addition to his involvement with the World Children’s Baseball Fair and service as a local youth baseball coach/instructor, he has been a team lead for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society events, is a yearly participant in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and has planned teen-empowerment conferences.

Barber is a Master Certified Negotiation Expert as well as a member of the Florida Association of REALTORS®, the National Association of REALTORS® and the Naples Area Board of REALTORS®. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from The University of Bridgeport with BA in Business Administration.

Robert Brody is owner of Personalized Natural Medicine in Newtown, Connecticut, and a staff physician at the Center of Excellence. He specializes in digestive disorders, autoimmune diseases, genetic analysis, the blood type diet, genotype diet, preventative medicine, and general health. His practice uses herbs, vitamins, minerals, homeopathy, naturopathic manipulation, as well as diet and lifestyle modifications to treat patients holistically.

Brody’s interest in natural medicine was initially influenced by his father, a practicing nutritionist.

Brody earned his Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and a MS in Human Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport and completed his residency at the Center of Excellence in Generative Medicine under Dr. Peter D’Adamo.

Angelica Castillo is a copywriter for Macy’s, contributing to the retail chain’s print, digital, and broadcast campaigns. Previously, she worked on PR and social media campaigns for Putumayo World Music, Tribeca Film Festival, Sony Pictures, Endless Jewelry, Vincent Peach & the Trudeau Corporation before becoming a fashion copywriter for top retail brands such as New York & Company, Alloy, and Delia’s.

Castillo studied improv at The Upright Citizens Brigade in Manhattan and spent a year in Hawaii managing a surf shop on Waikiki Beach. Committed to her community, she volunteers for Macy’s Operation Happy Children in partnership with the Department of Homeless Services during the holiday season and at MoMA PS1’s summer music series WarmUp.

Castillo graduated from the University of Bridgeport with a BA in Mass Communication and was honored as the Commencement Speaker for the Class of 2010. While at the University, Castillo paved the way for her media career by serving as a blogger and contributor to, where she interviewed Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and other celebrities.

Jesse Jones, more commonly known as “Filayyy,” attended the University of Bridgeport in 2015 after transferring from Passaic County Community College. As a member of the men’s basketball team, he scored an impressive 311 points before graduating from UB with a Bachelor of Science in General Studies.

Jones’s visibility and future career as a social media influencer began when he posted an Instagram video of then-Kentucky commit Isaiah Briscoe. The post featured Jones’s unique singing commentary and debued the “Filayyy” catchphrase that would change his life. The initial video gained approximately 4,200 likes. To date, Jones’s signature commentary and catchphrase have lead him to gain 1 million followers on Instagram alone. From one video to a global sensation, Jones has been able to grow his brand Filayyy Movement to include a wide range of apparel.

Alicia Robinson is the director of performing and visual arts for Bridgeport Public Schools and program director at Turnaround Arts: Bridgeport.

As a music educator, Robinson harnesses the arts and technology to serve students’ diverse needs. Turnaround Arts: Bridgeport supports all teachers by modeling arts integration strategies, coaching, and co-teaching.

Recognized for her commitment to students and the arts, Robinson won the 2016 Theodore and Margaret Beard Excellence in Teaching Award. Robinson is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and serves on the steering committee for the Fairfield County Community Foundation’s Fund for Women and Girls. She graduated magna cum laude from University of Bridgeport with a MS in Education with a concentration in Music.

David Salinas is the founder and chairman of District Innovation and Venture Center (DIVC), a nonprofit devoted to workforce development and educational programs around technology talent initiatives and entrepreneurial support.

His is also the co-founder and former CEO of Digital Surgeons, a full-service brand development and digital marketing agency with offices in New Haven and Manhattan. Founded in 2006 by Salinas and Peter Sena, Digital Surgeons is broadly recognized as one of the preeminent privately owned agencies in the country. The recipient of dozens of awards, including the coveted Webby Award and was named Top Ten Agency for Startups. Under Salinas’s leadership, the agency delivered award-winning results for Lady Gaga and United Technologies.

Salinas is a mentor at Yale Entrepreneurial Institute at Yale University. He serves on the Connecticut Innovation Council for  and is a founding board member of The Motivation Edge, a nonprofit youth development agency in Florida focused on improving the lives of underprivileged youth.

He received his BS in Business Administration at the University of Bridgeport.

Richard Greo is the winner of the 2018 Alumni Association Scholarship and a junior who is majoring in criminal justice & human security and social science. A visible student leader on campus, Greo serves as a student ambassador, residence advisor, orientation leader, and a member of M.A.L.E.S (Men Achieving Leadership Excellence and Success). He works off-campus at Supercuts and holds a hairdressing and barbering license. He has completed internships at the Bridgeport Police Department while juggling full-time studies and two jobs.