HAMBURG, N.Y. – Hilbert College introduced the Hawks Under 40 to honor four Hilbert graduates under the age of 40 years old. The inaugural honorees are Michael Gabor '10, Karen Kalwicki '06, Jason Luna '96, and Jonathan Rajewski '04. The honorees were selected because they have made an impact in business, community, research, artistic, leadership, educational, and/or philanthropic endeavors and have demonstrated a commitment to maintaining a lifelong relationship with Hilbert College.
Michael Gabor, a native of Cheektowaga, is one of the first students to receive both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Hilbert. Gabor enrolled at Hilbert as an undergrad and was active in the Ski Club and Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE). He was also a member of the men’s soccer team, where he was an honorable mention all-Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) pick after the 2008 season. His six goals and 17 points in his senior season rank ninth best in school history.
After earning his bachelor’s degree, Gabor returned to Hilbert to pursue one of the College’s newly established graduate programs. He served as an assistant men’s soccer coach, was involved in the Graduate Student Association and graduated with a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration.
“My Hilbert education prepared me for investigating financial crimes in a professional working environment,” Gabor said. “I apply the knowledge and skills obtained at Hilbert daily in real-world situations."
Gabor is currently a global financial crimes compliance anti-money laundering investigator with JP Morgan Chase & Co. He lists soccer, snowboarding and SCUBA diving as his favorite hobbies.
Karen Kalwicki was an active and highly honored scholar and athlete, excelling in both women’s soccer and softball at Hilbert. She received the McGrath Award and Mary Edwina Bogel Award upon graduation in 2006, and soon thereafter began advocating for the poor and homeless. She currently works as a paralegal at Neighborhood Legal Services Inc., a non-profit agency in Buffalo, and has been a member of several civic organizations, including the Project Homeless Connect to Buffalo Planning Committee and the Western New York Coalition for the Homeless.
Her advocacy is a continuation of both her desire to do good in the world, as well as the education she received at Hilbert.
“There is a Hebrew phrase that a friend taught me called 'Tikkun olam' meaning to repair the world. Hilbert fostered a dedication to serving others and repairing the world in every area of my life,” Kalwicki said. “From the coaches’ talks on the soccer and softball fields, to our trips with the Campus Ministry Club, to the classroom, in all areas I learned how just one person’s actions can change any situation. This part of my Hilbert education and experience is something that will forever impact my life.”
A recipient of Hilbert’s 2011 G.O.L.D. Award, Kalwicki is also active with the Ride for Roswell and the Thyroid Cancer Survivors Association. She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2008, but is now in complete remission.
Jason Luna was among the first to receive a four-year degree from Hilbert. He went on to law school, started his own highly successful firm and has become a respected leader in his community. But in some ways, it’s like he never left college. And in truth, he really hasn’t.
As a student, Luna immersed himself in college life, playing on the Hawks baseball team, participating in student government and joining clubs such as the Phi Beta Lambda business fraternity and the Criminal Justice Association, while working as an Admissions Ambassador. At the 1996 Commencement ceremony, he was named Hilbert’s Man of the Year. But that wasn’t the end of his association with the college. Since then, he’s been an Alumni Association board member, established an endowed scholarship for Hilbert students, worked as an adjunct instructor in criminal justice and, most recently, was elected to serve on the Board of Trustees.
“I use the skills, perspectives and knowledge I gathered at Hilbert every day,” he said. “Since the field I’m in is adversarial in nature, the only true way to get ahead is ensure that I’m always several steps ahead of my adversary. This involves thoroughly investigating my cases by implementing many of the techniques I learned as a CJ student at Hilbert. The business courses that I took gave me a strong foundation for operating my own business.”
After graduating from UB Law School, Luna began his career as an assistant district attorney. By 2005, he opened his own personal injury law firm: Jason C. Luna, PLLC. He is also involved as a volunteer with a number of civic groups, including the Valley Community Association, a not-for-profit organization in Buffalo’s Old First Ward that organizes events such as River Fest and the city’s original St. Patrick’s Day parade.
When he’s not working, Luna enjoys sports, a good cigar and spending time with his son Jason Jr. (4) and daughter Maya (2).
Jonathan Rajewski ’04 has made the most of his opportunities. An assistant professor at Vermont’s Champlain College, Rajewski oversees the Senator Patrick Leahy Center for Digital Investigation at Champlain, works as a digital forensic examiner for the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and is a frequent presenter, media expert and private and government consultant in topics dealing with electronic investigations, cyber security and identity theft.
In the past year alone, Rajewski has achieved notoriety for his work as both an investigator and a teacher. He blogged for The Huffington Post about the Manti Te’o “catfishing” affair and was named the top digital forensics professor and one of the best 300 professors in the nation overall by The Princeton Review.
Not bad for someone who had no idea what kind of career he wanted until he discovered Hilbert’s Computer Security and Information Assurance program.
“My dream was to be in a technology area, but I didn’t want to program computers on a daily basis,” Rajewski said. “[This] was something that appealed to my inner passion – investigating technology. I was a transfer student from Erie Community College and was given an opportunity to prove myself. Without the College’s support and encouragement, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
And his success in the classroom led to an internship with the New York State Attorney General’s Office. Rajewski believes that internship was the serendipitous event that helped him to land his first post-college job as a consultant with Protiviti. That experience then led him to Champlain, where he brought his private sector perspective to the department and helped to rewrite the curriculum.
“Hilbert College is an excellent school with small class sizes that focuses on professional education,” Rajewski said. “This is a rare breed in higher education, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to attend such a great school.”
Rajewski earned a master’s in managing innovation and information technology from Champlain in 2009. He is married and enjoys spending spare time with his wife, son and pug. He also tends to a collection of more than 20 bonsai trees and is an avid runner.