Ismael Voltaire, MS '21, had already come a long way by the time he entered Adelphi's first Strategic Plan Competition in 2018.
His family had relocated to Florida from his native Brooklyn and, shortly after, his father, who worked as a taxi driver, succumbed to pulmonary disease. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in Fort Lauderdale before making his way back to New York and to Adelphi to study medicine. Now, with an MS in Biology from Adelphi, an MBA from NSU and his own business, he’s the one accepting and reviewing business proposals.
“Coming into Adelphi, I was a hopeful pre-med student solely focused on becoming a future physician,” Voltaire said. “However, Adelphi really opened up my eyes to a world of possibilities beyond medicine. I found myself interacting with the business school, and even switched my concentration from physiology to biotechnology. The transition allowed me to take business courses as well as biology courses.”
A business competition may not have been on his mind when he arrived at Adelphi, but it was in his blood. His father and mother, a certified nursing assistant, were “both entrepreneur-minded individuals,” he said, “instilling in me and my brothers the value of chasing what drives you.” Shortly after he received his master’s degree from Adelphi, Voltaire and his brothers were struck with another blow with the death of his mother. “It was so unexpected and sudden that it literally uprooted my whole family,” he said. “But my mother did teach me how to be resilient and face adversity with my head held high.”
Bringing dreams to life
Voltaire said he was hesitant at first to enter the Shark Tank-style Strategic Plan Competition but gathered confidence with the support of mentors Chotsani West, MA ’07, executive director of diversity, equity and inclusion, and Murat Erogul, PhD, associate professor of management. After winning the first competition, he entered the second, which was financed by Kevin Mahoney ’83, first vice president-wealth management, UBS Financial Services, “who I regard as a true role model in both business and in life.
“Adelphi has led me to become the person I am today because the University gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams,” he added. “As I continue to navigate through life and discover my true purpose, I will always look back and thank the University for setting me on the right course.”
“With two master’s degrees along with the practical knowledge gained from my analytical role at a research firm,” he said, “I gained the tools to start my Black-owned business consulting company, which focuses on developing business plans for young people just like me…who want to bring their long-awaited business plans to life and establish a successful business the first time around.”
Voltaire’s consultancy business provides financial forecasting, financial summary reports and growth plans. “All my reports are geared toward the user presenting it to potential investors, bankers or just looking for a solid blueprint to bring their ideas to life.”