This story is part of a series previewing UA commencement May 10-11. The ceremony for undergraduates and master's degree candidates will be held May 10 in Arizona Stadium. The doctoral ceremony will be held May 11 in Centennial Hall.
Jon Denton-Schneider will graduate with honors from the University of Arizona Summa Cum Laude on May 10 with a bachelor's degree in entrepreneurship and business economics and Spanish (Portuguese concentration).
Denton-Schneider is a three-year letterman on the UA swimming team, competing this season as a redshirt junior. After a knee surgery, he persevered through a difficult year of recovery to return to the pool. He will finish his NCAA eligibility next year as a proud Wildcat.
After graduating, Denton-Schneider plans to launch Fittid Sport, a startup business he and three other UA swimmers created in the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship. Denton-Schneider will be the CFO of Fittid Sport, which makes perfectly sized racing suits for competitive swimmers.
"My teammates and I came up with the idea for Fittid Sport because all four of us compete or competed for the UA swimming team. In our swimming careers, we felt how the standardized sizes of racing swimsuits fit many athletes poorly, resulting in slow swimming," he said. "We developed our Fittid Calibration™ system to create perfectly sized racing suits for each swimmer, and we hope to expand our brand into other sports whose competitors can benefit from perfectly sized performance apparel."
The UA's entrepreneurship program is ranked No. 6 in the country by U.S. News and World Report.
"The entrepreneurship program has been critical to my success at the UA," Denton-Schneider said. "With Fittid Sport, I have been able to pursue my passion for swimming in the classroom and create with my teammates something of real monetary value. It has been the best learning experience, and it was a lot of fun as well – it never felt like just another project. Rather, it taught me that I perform at my best when I am passionate about what I am doing."
After graduation, Denton-Schneider will begin a master's program in Latin American studies at the UA, focusing on the history and economic development of Brazil and Mexico. He wants to start companies and consult in Latin America with the goal of improving governments, markets and lives in the region.
"I have been interested in Latin America for as long as I can remember. One of the most important people to me as a child came to the U.S. from El Salvador to escape its civil war and work for a better life," Denton-Schneider said. "That is such a foreign concept to an American child from a loving and stable family, and I wanted to understand why someone I cared about was in that situation."
"As a student, I made sure to study Latin American cultures and languages, and I also learned about how capitalism can lift millions of people out of poverty. I want to combine these interests to live and work in an exciting region and help create better lives for those looking to join the global middle class," he said.
Denton-Schneider worked as a research and database assistant for the Eller Economic and Business Research Center. He is a peer athletic leader and received a CATS Life Skills Award. He is a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma and Delta Sigma Pi honor societies.
He has volunteered more than 80 hours with organizations such as the Community Justice Boards, which use restorative justice to reduce juvenile crime and build brighter futures for Tucson youth. He also served as co-chair of the Swan Board.
Denton-Schneider, from San Rafael, Calif., is the son of Jeffrey Schneider and Jane Denton. His parents instilled in him strong moral values and a vigorous work ethic that drive him to improve other people's lives.
During commencement, Denton-Schneider will receive a Merril P. Freeman Medal, recognizing well-rounded individuals whose contributions through co-curricular and community activities and leadership have had a positive impact on the University and surrounding community. He dedicates his award to his parents and his teammates for inspiring him to pursue excellence with integrity.