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Prestigious Kauffman Fellowship Awarded to Rady Student

By Keri Minehart | May 22, 2006

Niall O’Donnell
Niall O'Donnell

Niall O’Donnell, a student in the Rady School of Management has been named by the Center for Venture Education as one of 30 Kauffman Fellows for 2006. The Kauffman Fellows Program educates, develops and networks emerging leaders in the venture capital industry.

As a Kauffman Fellow, Niall will work as an associate at a venture capital firm while participating in the two-year Kauffman Fellows educational program. The educational curriculum includes classroom time, conferences, an international symposium and a customized leadership program. The tuition for the Kauffman Fellows program is $55,000, which will be paid by Niall’s new employer, RiverVest Venture Partners.

Niall’s journey to the Kauffman Fellowship began with an information session for Rady School students led by current Kauffman Fellows. Niall then completed the 40-page application and was selected from a field of 260 to move on to the semi-finals for the life sciences, which consisted of interviews with venture capitalists and Kauffman Fellows.

Upon learning was a finalist, Niall packed his bags for San Mateo once again, to participate in a mentor event where finalists spent time with venture capitalists who were serving as mentors for the program. Niall took this time to pitch Defibra, the company he created with Rady classmates for their “Lab to Market” course, which won his team second place in a venture competition earlier this year. The mentors were impressed with his presentation, which Niall attributes to the Rady School saying, “"Before I came to Rady I had limited finance knowledge and no experience pitching an idea to potential investors. Through the Rady MBA I was mentored by local venture capitalists and experienced firsthand pitching biotech start-ups."

Three weeks later, Niall received an offer to do his Kauffman Fellowship at RiverVest Venture Partners, a St. Louis firm that invests nationwide in emerging medical device, biopharmaceutical and other healthcare venture opportunities. Niall will begin work this month and have his first Kauffman event later in the summer. He will return to UC San Diego in August for his Rady School commencement ceremony, as part of the school’s first graduating MBA class.

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