Abigail Kates '24 stands with her hands on her hips and smiles, cherry blossoms are in the background

Abigail Kates '24, Markets, Innovation and Design

June 30, 2023

When choosing a college, Abigail Kates '24 wanted an environment that would challenge her both academically and athletically. Photo by Emily Paine, Communications

I wanted to get a great education while also being able to continue track and field. At Bucknell, I get the best of both worlds.

As a markets, innovation and design (MIDE) major, Abigail Kates '24 spends her waking hours considering what consumers want — before they know they want it. The MIDE curriculum encourages students to examine creative, analytical and technical processes and how they combine to generate ideas that can be turned into products and services. Kates is considering forging a marketing career that would promote such innovations.

She's already well on her way, thanks to her work with Bucknell's Small Business Development Center. The center provides budding entrepreneurs with free consulting and educational workshops that help them start and grow successful businesses. Kates manages marketing and outreach for the center's signature event, Bucknell's annual BizPitch competition. In the spirit of television's Shark Tank, student entrepreneurs present early-stage concepts for new products or services or highlight their own startup companies. The 2023 event drew 30 applicants. Five finalists competed for more than $17,000 in prize money to help further their ambitions.

In her role, Kates helps participants navigate the high-pressure process, offering organizational support as they prepare to present their ideas and inventions to a panel of judges, many of whom are alumni and entrepreneurs themselves. She also operates social media accounts, creates posters and helps organize panel events where alumni talk about their BizPitch experiences.

"I love supporting small businesses and startups, and exploring new ideas has always been a passion of mine," Kates says. "The students' ideas solve problems, are innovative and help people in their daily lives. The center has opened my eyes to the idea of working somewhere as a marketing executive, and maybe after that I'd move into consulting and give my expertise to small businesses."

High jumper Abigail Kates is in the air, with her back arching over a high bar that she is clearing head first.

High jumper Abigail Kates '24 uses speed and power to launch herself to new heights. Photo by Emily Paine, Communications

When choosing a college, Kates, who grew up in Aston, Pa., wanted a campus environment where she'd be academically challenged, where she could work closely with professors, and where she could see how high she could fly.

Kates is an accomplished high jumper who has been competing in track and field since the fourth grade. In 2023, she set a 5-foot, 7.75-inch personal best, the second-best high jump in Bucknell track-and-field history, and finished fourth at the Patriot League Championships.

"I wanted to get a great education, while also being able to continue track and field," Kates says. "At Bucknell, I get the best of both worlds."

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