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.