June 28, 2013 | 10:50 a.m.
By Suzanne McInroy, Director of Communications
This spring, four Bethel University seniors participated in the Global Diversity Business Case Competition, a new program offered through the Minneapolis Public Schools. Recent graduates Alex Pena, Andrew Gahagen, and Michael Tibstra along with Bethel senior Jack Peterson participated as college coaches during the competition, which ran from Feb. 5 to April 18.
The Global Diversity Business Case Competition is an innovative program and competition focusing on international business for students in grades 9-12 in Minneapolis Public Schools. The mentors helped the 23 students who participated in the inaugural program learn “about the importance of culture and some of the core concepts of business, as well as how the two were related to a specific business case: Disney's endeavor with Hong Kong Disney,” explains Pena, who heard about the program from his professors at Bethel.
The high school students studied critical issues surrounding a multinational company to build research, critical thinking, teamwork, problem solving, and public speaking skills. Over a 10-week period, students worked in teams with a classroom teacher, two college-level coaches, and mentors from local companies. Their task was to work in their teams to research a multinational company, give a presentation on business problems they identified, and devise a business solution.
“I really hope this program succeeds in becoming something that the district does every year because the growth that can be seen in the students is remarkable,” says Pena. “Similarly, I do indeed recommend that others within Bethel's community consider this program because it has a lot to offer.” The Bethel students who participated came from different disciplines: Pena and Gahagen were both business majors; Tibstra was in the biochemistry and molecular biology as well as chemistry programs at Bethel; and Peterson studies economics and finance.
The college coaches attended a program reception, orientation, study sessions, and the final competition; provided logistical support and directed student activities; and actively coached student and team learning activities by engaging and directing meaningful business discussions, according to Brittney Wilson, who works in the Office of Equity & Diversity for the Minneapolis Public Schools. The program closed with a single-day competition where the high school students presented their findings and solutions to an executive panel of judges from local businesses.