University of St. Thomas
For John Ruff ’12, his success can be attributed to what he calls grit, or the ability to keep moving forward when the going gets tough. Grit is what brought him to the University of St. Thomas from his hometown in Minnesota. Grit is what allowed him to suffer through the Houston heat and endure long hours of soccer training, a sport he started playing his senior year of high school. Grit is what helped him make it through the hours of grading papers as a schoolteacher with Teach for America, and grit is what helped Ruff and the ScribeSense team present and win at the Dream Big America competition this past February.
Ruff, a political science major, met the ScribeSense team through Kevin Valdez, a UST alum and former soccer teammate, with whom they shared a space while part of a startup incubator, Tech Wildcatters, in Dallas. Initially, Ruff was asked to test the product, but upon using the product he was so thrilled by it that he has been helping them for the last year and a half. As a teacher with Teach for America, he was able to bridge the gap between the technology and the educational applications. He was asked to present the product to different schools and districts around the country and handle the public relations side. Since the competition in February, Ruff and the ScribeSense team have stayed busy. They recently placed as a top 10 startup at SXSW EDU. With 40 schools currently using their free pilots, they are looking to expand their reach with paid subscriptions from more than a dozen schools beginning this fall. Ruff credits the St. Thomas community for the support and preparation that went into his success. Mentors like Dr. Jon Taylor, professor of political science, Dr. Jean-Philippe Faletta, associate professor of political science, and Dr. Livia Bornigia, associate professor of communication, taught him to make sure that what he learns outside of the class is just as important as what he learns in it. Drew Wilson, a UST alumnus and business owner, also offered support as he mentored Ruff through college to this day. Moving forward, Ruff plans to attend Johns Hopkins University, where he will pursue a Master of Education. He will continue his work with ScribeSense and plans to spend more time with his wife, Catherine, also an alumna, and daughter, Aria.
|Hometown||St. Paul, Minnesota|
|Living In||Houston, Texas|