Claudia Luján ’15 Wins Entrepreneurial Fellowship

Claudia Lujan '15

When you think entrepreneur, you probably don’t think background in biology and English literature. But Claudia Luján ’15 defies categorization.

In recognition of the leadership and collaboration skills Luján honed at Swarthmore, Venture for America (VFA) has named the El Paso, Tex., native one of its 2015 Fellows.

“I was as ecstatic as I was surprised,” says Luján. “I wasn't sure that my [academic] background made the strongest case, but thankfully I had experience leading groups both on and off campus.”

VFA seeks fellows from various backgrounds. Its main criteria: “a track record of building things, experience in scrappy and entrepreneurial contexts, the ability to direct yourself when no one’s telling you what to do, and a history of kicking butt everywhere you go.”

VFA aims to help revitalize American communities through entrepreneurship, placing its fellows in two-year positions with startup companies it partners with in 12 cities.

Luján is crossing her fingers for an opportunity in Philadelphia or Baltimore, but no matter what she plans to immerse herself in the experience.

“I don’t think there’s a better place to learn how to run a business than a startup,” she says. “You have the ability to learn alongside a small team and really contribute to the direction of the company.”

Before joining a startup, Lujan will spend this summer at a training camp at Brown University — “a crash course on everything entrepreneurial,” she says. She’s excited to work with and learn from the other fellows this summer and as a member of the VFA network.

“The fellows I’ve met so far are very talented and extremely motivated to give back to the cities they were placed in,” she says. “Fellows go on to start their own companies after VFA, so I’m excited about the potential for collaborative work.”

Among Luján's experiences at Swarthmore were volunteering for the Global Health Forum through the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility, helping to launch the first student-led science journal, and leading a poetry workshop. She relishes the interdisciplinary nature of the College, which she says “fundamentally shaped” how she approaches problems.

“I have a wide set of seemingly unrelated skills that are actually very useful at a startup,” says Luján. “You have to think quickly on your feet and come up with innovative solutions. Having the capacity to tap into a variety of perspectives for a given problem is something I can thank Swarthmore for."