Focusing on the value of diversity in business, a team of four undergraduate business students in the Carlos Alvarez College of Business at UTSA were selected to participate in the National Diversity Case Competition (NDCC) hosted by Indiana University this spring. The competitive event featured teams from 32 universities.
Team members were economics students Jasmin Paquet-Durand Ford, Sarah Livesey and Kirkland Webb and team captain Jorge Cazares, a finance student. The students were advised by Edgar Ghossoub, associate professor of economics.
The competition brings together top-level, diverse talent from colleges and universities across the country. Fostering corporate diversity, students also are given opportunities to network with corporate recruiters from major corporations, attend panels on diversity and inclusion, hear from keynote speakers and connect with students from other universities.
“Participating in the NDCC was an incredible experience. It was a highly-competitive environment that challenged us to think critically and work collaboratively as a team. It was a great opportunity to learn from and network with other students from various universities and to receive feedback from professionals in the industry,” stated Webb.
Cazares discovered the competition from a social media ad at another university. Thinking UTSA should also compete, he shared the opportunity with his Introductory Macroeconomics professor Ghossoub. From there they formed their team and received guidance from both Ghossoub and Samson Alva, interim department chair in economics.
The team was tasked with conducting research and preparing an executive summary on how 3M could improve environmental justice within the communities affected by their business operations. After preparing the summary, they were only given two weeks to develop an extended presentation for the competition.
The NDCC competition consisted of keynote speakers, presentations, corporate panels on diversity and inclusion, speed networking and presentations. None of the UTSA NDCC team members had participated in anything like this before, nor had there ever been a UTSA team at the event.
Meeting every other day for several hours at a time to meet the deadline, the students learned more than they could have imagined. “Working alongside intelligent and driven peers, preparing for a major presentation, pitching our proposal to a group of judges and later reflecting on our performance taught me so much about public speaking and presentations,” said Paquet-Durand Ford, president of the Student Government Association.
“These types of activities are important as students develop the necessary skills to prepare them for their future careers. Hands-on learning and reflecting on such experiences are a key factor for students, now more than ever, in the ability to stand out in the workforce,” said Krishna Garza-Baker, assistant director of experiential learning in the Alvarez Student Success Center.
The team’s travel was supported by the college’s Experiential Learning Fund, which was established to support Alvarez business students who engage in career-learning activities. The fund supports non-paid internships, competition fees, conference fees to present research and special projects. Students can find the application here and can connect with the Alvarez Student Success Center for more information on experiential learning programs.