Cait Hopkinson, a student at Manasquan High School, has won a full four-year scholarship to University of Rider in the 2022 Norm Brodsky Business Concept competition.
employment. On January 29, she presented her business idea — an air-fried donut shop — to a panel of judges in the annual competition.
“I never thought I’d be on top and be the big winner, but the feeling is mind-blowing and it’s still so surreal,” Hopkinson says. “Winning this scholarship helped relieve a lot of stress in figuring out all the college finances.”
Hopkinson worked on her business idea, AIR Fried & Frosted, in the school’s entrepreneurship class. She wanted to create a more healthy spin on her breakfast favorite, using an air fryer instead of the traditional method of frying donuts in oil. Part of its business model also includes gluten-free and dairy-free options. She even created her own prototypes at home.
When she found out about the scholarship competition, she knew she had to sign up.
“I just thought it was a perfect opportunity and a perfect way to gain experience regardless of the outcome,” she says.
Passionate about her business idea, Hopkinson hopes to bring it to life in the future. At Rider, she plans to study accounting with a focus on fraud and business forensics.
Rider’s Norm Brodsky Business Concept Competition challenges high school students to develop an innovative business idea and present it to a panel of judges, in Shark Tank style. This year’s final judges are Bill Cunningham of Encompass Media, Joe Lopez of the Uncommon Individual Foundation, and Lisa Teck ’02, ’09, Assistant Professor at Norm Brodsky School of Business.
Held almost this year in the shadow of a winter storm, five seniors competed for the first prize for a full four-year scholarship, while five juniors and sophomores competed for cash prizes and the chance to be automatically entered into the grand competition when they were eligible.
Ryder received over 300 entries in this year’s competition. Applicants were asked to submit a brief summary of their business concept, which underwent two rounds of review by a panel of judges, before being narrowed down to 10 finalists.
Other winners include: Denver Edwards of the Interlochen Academy of the Arts in Michigan (2nd place, Division 1); Thomas Wright of Scotch Plains Fanwood High School (3rd place, senior division); Sophia Ruffo from Park Ridge High School (1st place, sophomore/junior division, automatic entry to division one next year); Lola Cantillon from Newark Academy (2nd place, freshman/junior department); and Brianna Vasey of Park Ridge High School (3rd place, freshman/junior division).
“We are very proud to welcome Kate to Ryder,” says Laura Hodeka, director of the Ryder Center for the Study of Entrepreneurship. “I and all the judges have been inspired by her budding passion and business acumen. We can’t wait to see how she thrives at Rider and continues to embrace her entrepreneurial spirit.”
The competition is sponsored by husband and wife Norm Brodsky 64 and Elaine Brodsky. Norm, a longtime entrepreneur named after Rider’s Norm Brodsky School of Business, has founded eight successful companies, including Citi Storage, the nation’s largest privately owned archival company. He also strongly believes that anyone, regardless of industry or job title, can benefit from an entrepreneurial mindset. This mindset can be recognized by our 40 undergraduate and graduate programs in college, minors, and certificates.