A team effort by two Brandywine sophomores culminated in major success during a national business competition in Chicago.
By: Michael McDade
Coleman Hart and David Spencer may have only just concluded their freshman years at Penn State Brandywine, but this go-getting duo isn't wasting any time making a big splash on campus
The pair recently competed on a national level at Phi Beta Lambda’s 2015 National Leadership Conference (NCL) in Chicago, Ill., taking home sixth place in the management analysis and decision making category.
Coleman Hart (left) and David Spencer proudly display their Phi Beta Lambda 2015 National Leadership Conference awards.
Credit: Michael McDade
According to its website, Phi Beta Lambda is a nonprofit organization that strives to bring business and education together in a positive working relationship through innovative leadership and career development programs.
Before earning the right to contend at the national level, the team first needed to withstand the Pennsylvania Phi Beta Lambda State Leadership Conference competition, held in Harrisburg. Hart and Spencer passed with flying colors, placing first in marketing concepts and microeconomics categories, respectively. The pair then went on to place second in the management analysis and decision making team category.
“Getting called to the stage during the state competition and realizing that we made it to nationals was one of the greatest feelings of my life,” said Hart, who’s studying marketing.
“Quite frankly, when we went to the state level we didn’t anticipate actually placing first in our categories and second in the team competition,” added accounting major and Cooper Honors student Spencer. “It was truly an amazing feeling to make it to nationals.”
"Realizing that we made it to nationals was one of the greatest feelings of my life." -- Coleman Hart
During the four-day national competition, the undergraduates competed in the same categories held in the state competition – marketing concepts, microeconomics, and management analysis and decision making. After successfully finishing the first round – a comprehensive written test – Hart and Spencer moved on to the final stage of the contest, where they were tasked with completing a case study exercise. After a challenging presentation in front of competition judges, the team’s hard work paid off. Hart and Spencer were awarded sixth place in the management analysis and decision making category.
“Taking the skills that we’ve learned in the classroom and being able to apply them in the real-world is a great feeling,” Spencer said.
“Just being a part of this competition was amazing. I couldn’t even process it for the first couple of days,” Hart added.
A snapshot of Millennium Park in Chicago taken by sophomore David Spencer during his recent trip to Phi Beta Lambda’s National Leadership Conference.
Credit: David Spencer
Hart and Spencer said the conference also included several informative workshops and allowed for great networking opportunities with fellow students from across the United States. During their downtime, they got to explore the city, taste the local cuisine and visit prominent landmarks such as Millennium Park, Willis Tower (commonly referred to as Sears Tower) and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Cynthia Lightfoot, director of academic affairs, was thrilled to see the students reach such a noteworthy achievement.
“These types of experiences introduce students to ways of establishing a professional network,” Lightfoot said. “What’s special about what happened with these students is that it really gave them an understanding of the final process of a project. Often times, students have rolled up their sleeves and have done the work, but they don’t always get to complete the circle by presenting their work in a public forum.”
“Taking the skills that we’ve learned in the classroom and being able to apply them in the real-world is a great feeling." -- David Spencer
Hart and Spencer will become leaders of Penn State Brandywine’s Phi Beta Lambda student organization this fall and already plan to enter next year’s national competition.
“I highly value this experience,” Spencer said. “Not only was it a lot of fun, this gave me the experience and confidence I’ll need to succeed after graduation.”