Hillsdale Truth
Hillsdale Col­lege’s Team Truth, with the assis­tance of Spectrum Health employee and mentor Matt Boon, won a business project com­pe­tition Monday, receiving a check for $5,000.
Molly Gresenz | Courtesy

Six Hillsdale stu­dents were the first team ever to win a business project com­pe­tition with a perfect score Monday. The team — called Team Truth — traveled to Hud­sonville, Michigan, where they pre­sented a project on the competition’s theme of childhood obesity, asthma, and dia­betes.

“One of the judges said it was because of our passion that we beat them,” Restuccia said.

Seniors Alex Buchmann, Dominic Restuccia, Molly Gresenz, and Patrick Nalepa; junior Molly Scott; and freshman Lydia Reyes earned $5,000 for their work with Spectrum Health and the Project Man­agement Institute in the fifth annual com­pe­tition. They beat Cor­ner­stone University’s team by two points for first place. Team Liberty, the other Hillsdale team at the com­pe­tition, placed fourth.

“Both groups did a fan­tastic job at rep­re­senting the college and should be con­grat­u­lated for doing us all proud,” said Douglas Johnson, project man­agement pro­fessor at Hillsdale College.

Spectrum Health, a health and insurance provider, pairs with the Project Man­agement Institute, or PMI, to host the com­pe­tition every year. The com­petitors, 12 dif­ferent teams from 10 schools, had to address a problem posed by Spectrum Health and the PMI. To do this, the teams created projects to present at the event, a cap­stone of more than a semester’s worth of work for a three-credit business class.

This year, the project required the teams to develop  a solution and implement a project man­agement business plan intended to prevent chronic disease and promote the health of Michigan children to a panel of judges.

Team Truth focuses on obesity. Gresenz said its cam­paign slogan is “Eat Ath­letic,” a catchy and rec­og­nizable slogan similar to “Got Milk?”

“Our idea is for people to see ‘Eat Ath­letic’ and live by that, and that is going to change lives,” she said.

Nalepa said their idea had dif­ferent prongs: start edu­cation on healthy eating choices early with post­natal mothers in the hos­pital; partner with schools; team up with the NFL Play 60 cam­paign, which encourages kids to exercise for one hour a day; have increased access to kids through the YMCA; and start after-school pro­grams.

Spectrum Health expressed an interest in imple­menting the rec­om­men­da­tions offered by the winning team, Gresenz said. Since the com­pe­tition, Team Truth has remained in contact with Spectrum Health. The company invited Team Truth to present again to higher tier rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

“They said they can def­i­nitely see rolling out this plan, though they might make some minor changes to certain ele­ments,” Gresenz said. “Who knows? In a few years, we might see ‘Eat Ath­letic’ on bill­boards all over.”

The dif­ferent teams acquired points through the semester by com­pleting various assign­ments of the pre­sen­tation. Restuccia said Team Truth was in sixth place before pre­sen­ta­tions on Monday and did not have much hope. But the team’s mentor, Spectrum Health employee Matt Boon, encouraged the team.

“He believed in us from day one to us standing on that platform and getting the check,” Restuccia said.

The project is the main portion of Hillsdale College’s three-credit project man­agement class. Team Truth began work on the project before Christmas break and had three virtual lec­tures via Skype, as well. The com­petitors returned early to school in the spring semester to meet with the team and share ideas for the project.

Nalepa said each team pre­sented once for a panel, and the final four teams pre­sented again for exec­utive judges. These judges were high level employees at Spectrum, other sponsors, as well as teams that did not make the final four, local com­panies, and recruiters.

“Pre­senting was nerve-wracking, but at the same time, it felt natural,” he said. “The dif­ference was those two points; it was that passion.”

The six members will split the win­nings. Gresenz said she will probably save her share, though others may not.

“Molly Scott said she is going to Disney World,” Gresenz said.

The team members will receive their tro­phies at the May 9 meeting of PMI’s Western Michigan chapter.