About the Dean Yep, Jr. Prize
Dean Yep, Jr., a beloved member of the Fuqua School of Business Class of 2012, passed away in 2016. Dean believed in entrepreneurship’s ability to diminish geographic and social boundaries, and he embraced the Team Fuqua culture. His intensity and tenacity inspired and empowered everyone around him to thrive in all aspects of their lives, empowering everyone around him to be better. Dean was selfless, often providing encouragement, solutions, and a helping hand during difficult situations. His deep and powerful connections with classmates, friends and other acquaintances served as a beacon of hope and support for everyone whose life he touched. Although his time here was too short, we seek to continue his legacy through encouraging other members of the Duke and Fuqua communities to build upon these ideals through the creation of the Dean Yep, Jr. Prize in the Duke Startup Challenge.
Dean Yep, Jr. was born on October 22, 1982 in Flushing, New York, to Dean and Winnie Yep. He grew up in Woodside, NY and Glen Cove, NY. Growing up, Dean was involved in a number of extracurricular activities and graduated fourth in his class at Glen Cove High School.
Dean attended Georgetown University (The McDonough School of Business), where he majored in finance and management. He was a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, the National Jesuit Honor Society, and graduated Magna Cum Laude, with a degree in business administration. At Georgetown, Dean was heavily involved with the Chinese Students Association, and frequently hosted gatherings to bring students together. He volunteered as a math tutor at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and was a member of the McDonough School of Business Admissions Council. While on campus, Dean also worked at the McDonough School of Business Technology Center and the Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union.
After graduating from Georgetown in 2004, Dean worked for BearingPoint and E888 International before attending the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. He obtained a Master of Business Administration degree in 2012 with a concentration in entrepreneurship & innovation. While at Fuqua, Dean was involved in a number of clubs, including the entrepreneurship & venture capital club, the asset management club, the real estate club, and was a member of the Program for Entrepreneurs. In addition, he was also an admissions fellow and a management communications teaching assistant. When he wasn’t studying, working, or volunteering, he enjoyed spending time with his friends, singing karaoke, playing volleyball, and a good game of poker.
After business school, Dean returned to commercial real estate and worked at Capital Appraisal Services. He obtained a New York State Certified General Appraiser License and had been working towards the requirements necessary for an MAI designation. Dean also worked for Fultonex Realty as an exclusive sales associate on “Flushing Commons,” one of the largest mixed-use developments in Downtown Flushing, New York. Never one to be idle, Dean worked tirelessly towards obtaining his CFA designation, and received it in August 2014.
On November 3, 2016, Dean passed away from complications due to encephalitis. During the two weeks he was hospitalized, doctors worked tirelessly to determine the cause. However, all of the lab results came back negative and the cause was never determined.
Dean was a generous and dedicated son, brother, and friend, who had a passion for traveling the world and was always there to provide encouragement. He never missed an opportunity to connect with friends or to lend a helping hand. Although he was taken from us too soon, he made a difference and deeply touched the lives of everyone he knew. He is survived by his parents, and his twin sister, Didi.
“Dean’s selfless attitude, kindness, loyalty, commitment, and passion for life will always be missed. We are so thankful and humbled that this prize will keep the memory of our beloved son and brother alive forever,” said the Yep family on the second anniversary of Dean’s unexpected passing. “Dean always encouraged those he knew to strive for their maximum potential, so it seems fitting that this prize will enable a deserving team to go further with their vision.”
The first ever Dean Yep, Jr. prize will be awarded to GOLeafe this year. GOLeafe is a Durham based startup that has developed a patent-pending and low cost manufacturing process to produce ‘Graphene’, currently one of the most expensive materials on earth under current production methods. Imagine solar panels that can generate energy 24 hours a day and picture an energy storage solution that outcompetes lithium ion batteries in cost, storage capacity, charging speed, weight, lifespan, and safety; nanomaterial Graphene makes it possible. Graphene is 1000 times lighter than paper and 200 times stronger than structural steel. GOLeafe has introduced a scalable batch process to produce Graphene that is 10x cheaper than the competition, while keeping it very eco-friendly by removing most of the harsh chemicals used in competing methods.
Arsheen Allam, CEO of GOLeafe
GOLeafe’s founder and CEO is Arsheen Allam, who previously co-founded CNanoz, an innovator in developing nano-technology based water purification systems. At CNanoz, Arsheen developed an interest in Graphene that eventually resulted in the launch of GOLeafe. Arsheen has a Bachelor’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering, as well as a Master’s degree in Global Innovation Management from NC State University, and an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
Arsheen and GOLeafe have demonstrated remarkable technical expertise, perseverance and entrepreneurial skills to develop the innovative technology for low cost Graphene production and are the deserving winners of the Dean Yep Jr. memorial prize.
This year’s prize amount is $2,000. Higher amounts are anticipated in future years as the endowment fund that supports the Dean Yep Jr. memorial prize nears the goal of being fully funded. “Thanks to the fund, we expect these cash prizes to be distributed in perpetuity, empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs and honoring Dean’s love for Duke”, said Aju Joseph John, Dean’s friend from Duke Fuqua School of Business and one of the prize administrators.