Archive for ‘Academics’

Students Participate in Social Enterprise Consulting in Costa Rica

by   |  04.05.19  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, Current Students, Entrepreneurship, Social Entrepreneurship, Study Abroad

Over spring break, a group of students led by Dr. Laura Phillips and Dr. Sarah Easter traveled to Costa Rica for the first ever Social Enterprise Consulting (MGMT 440) class. This project-based course is designed to give students hands-on experience dealing with a real and substantial issue faced by a socially-minded organization. Students spent six weeks prior to spring break learning about the basics of consulting and learning about the cultural context of the country and organizations they would visit. They were challenged to complete research on the industry and market and received training from the Rotary International campus in Denton, who were also training the entrepreneurs in Costa Rica. “We wanted the students to be prepared in diverse capacities,” said Dr. Easter “That way, when we traveled to Costa Rica, they were as effective as possible in the one-week in-country visit.”

In Costa Rica, the class worked with the Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), which is a regional center in Costa Rica dedicated to research and graduate education in agriculture, and the management, conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. In collaboration with CATIE, Red de Emprendedoras del Turismo Sostenible de Turrialba (RETUS) is a network of female entrepreneurs focused on experiential rural tourism offerings as a means to help provide sustainable livelihoods to the three involved communities in Central Costa Rica – Santa Cruz, Guavabo and Mollejones. CATIE and RETUS are interested in better understanding the US market for sustainable rural tourism in Costa Rica as well as the development of a promotional marketing plan to successfully reach identified markets in order to grow and develop RETUS further. The class stayed in a small town called Turrialba on the CATIE campus. Over the course of three days, they visited the three communities and observed experiential tourism offerings in each location.

The consulting nature of the course was focused on students engaging with the women entrepreneurs in terms of ecotourism, which means that tourists engage in local culture when on vacation rather than staying within the confines of a resort or hotel for the duration of their stay. Students evaluated the offerings of each entrepreneur from a US – and specifically Texas – tourist perspective. They spent time in each community taking detailed field notes and giving preliminary recommendations and then spent a full day with the class debriefing and identifying weaknesses and opportunities of the offerings in consideration of US customers.

With the focus on ecotourism consulting, the students got to experience Costa Rica in special ways that emphasized interactions with the local culture. “The most eye-opening thing about this trip was the cultural immersion. To actively participate in activities with the locals gave me a unique perspective into who they are,” said Luke Stevens, a junior marketing major from Montgomery, TX. “Instead of feeling like an outsider looking in, I felt more like I was a part of them. Overall, I think I got more out of this trip because it had a focus and purpose as opposed to a regular spring break trip. I would rather have that type of experience than a relaxing week on the beach.”  Among other things, the class toured the remains of a Pre-Colombian ruin, visited a butterfly farm, and even learned how to salsa dance. On their final day, they got to go zip lining through the jungle and rappel down waterfalls. “Since I come from a Central American country, I was really impressed by the ‘Tico culture,’ which is what Costa Ricans often call themselves, and how important it is to them that they grow as a community instead of as individuals,” noted Mafer Hernandez, a junior finance major from Guatemala City, Guatemala. They were also really invested in reducing contamination, their roads were clean and they also had several recycle bins.”

Now that they have returned from Costa Rica, students are working on a full report and marketing assessment that gives promotional and placement considerations for the women entrepreneurs. The project-based experience has been invaluable for students as they have gotten a chance to apply what they have been learning in class to real life – and in a meaningful, purpose-driven way. Dr. Easter’s favorite part of the trip was twofold; “I loved watching how passionate the women entrepreneurs are about their businesses and communities and how driven they were in their desire to share that passion with outsiders,” she said. “I also enjoyed watching the students in that international setting. It was neat seeing them interact with people in the community and dive into the experience fully. Traveling with students and watching how much they learn and grow in a short time frame is always incredible”

A grant from Southwest Airlines for plane tickets and scholarships from COBA, as well as the partnerships with Rotary International, CATIE, and RETUS made this trip possible and effective for the students and faculty that attended. We are extremely proud of our students for choosing to spend their spring break applying their business skills to serve others in a global context. We look forward to watching how this class grows in the future and other opportunities our students will have to affect change.

 

Ruth Allen Griggs Honor Luncheon

by   |  03.29.19  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, COBA Events, Current Students, Leadership, Special Speakers

On Tuesday, March 26th, many gathered at the annual Ruth Allen Griggs Honor Luncheon, founded by Jack Griggs and Ann Griggs Berger in honor of their mother, Ruth Allen Griggs. They wanted a way to commemorate the spirit of generosity that Ruth Allen Griggs had in abundance and did so by creating an opportunity for student scholarship recipients and donors to interact. Around the room, stories about times at ACU were shared as well as stories about opportunities that demonstrate the importance and impact of giving back.

Two students were invited to speak about how the scholarships they received allowed them to experience a wide and unique variety of opportunities during their time at ACU. Kevin Pantoja, a senior finance and accounting major and first-generation college student from Roscoe, TX, spoke about the ways he has been able to live out Proverbs 27:17. “My time in the College of Business has allowed me the opportunity to grow not only as a man but as a man of God,” said Kevin. “Because of the interactions with my fellow students or with the amazing faculty and staff that we are blessed with, I can honestly say that I would not be standing here if it was not for the generosity of those in the room.” While at ACU, Kevin has studied abroad in Germany, attended Leadership Summit, been involved on campus, and most importantly has intentionally strived to build up the communities around him as others have built him up.

Elisabeth Danelski, a senior accounting major from Burleson, TX, also shared her story at the luncheon. Elisabeth spoke of goals and plans, but mostly the opportunities she has been able to have at ACU that were not in her plan. Studying abroad twice, serving on short term mission trips, attending conferences, and immersing herself in many other experiences unique to ACU was not in her plan but was made possible through Elisabeth’s hard work and the generosity of others. “In my time here, I have learned a lot of things,” Elisabeth explained. “I have broadened my horizons, I’ve cultivated a wider worldview, I’ve shared my story and had the pleasure of hearing so many others. But the one thing I will cherish the most is learning that the incredible experiences I had that weren’t in or didn’t go according to ‘my plan’ happened because it was never supposed to be my plan in the first place.” Elisabeth looks forward to making it a priority to pay the opportunities she has had forward once she graduates and urged her peers to do the same.

David Shewmaker (’92), a member of the Dean’s Council, also spoke at the luncheon. He reflected on times at ACU and shared his heart for the students and the community they experience here. All of the speakers were inspiring and reminded all attending of the value and importance of generosity. Dean Brad Crisp said “the Ruth Allen Griggs luncheon was once again a highlight of the year. Kevin and Elisabeth did an impressive job of sharing their stories as first-generation college students and expressing their gratitude to our donors. I am grateful we have the opportunity to bring our students and donors together for an event like this.” We were proud to be able to host this luncheon, honor Ruth Ann Griggs, and to once again see the effect that a spirit of generosity can have on generations.

 

Spotlight: Daniel Garcia

by   |  03.22.19  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, Marketing

We are pleased to introduce you to Daniel Garcia (’04), who will be moving to a full-time faculty role within the College of Business Administration this fall. Garcia is from Cancún, Mexico and came to ACU as an international student. He graduated with majors in management and marketing, a certificate in missions, and a minor in global studies. Soon after graduation, Garcia began working in admissions as a multicultural marketing specialist to help recruit a more diverse student body across the U.S. and internationally. He has a masters degree in intercultural communication, a certificate in conflict resolution, and is finishing his M.B.A. through COBA’s new online program. He is currently the Director of Multicultural and International Enrollment and also teaches International Business (BUSA 419) and Principles of Marketing (MKTG 320). His wife, Yukari, is from Japan and they have two little girls and a one-month-old son. Garcia and his family attend the bilingual service at University Church of Christ.

 

Q: What drew you to teaching?

A: I never considered teaching as a career until fairly recently. Several years ago, I was in Hong Kong on a recruiting trip and met a COBA study abroad group lead by Dr. Phil Vardiman. I was flying to Shanghai to recruit students at a university and invited Dr. Vardiman to come along, as students like to hear from faculty during the recruiting process. After watching me give a presentation to the prospective students about ACU, Dr. Vardiman started a conversation with me about teaching. Many more conversations later, I started teaching part-time for COBA last semester and am excited to move to full-time in the fall.

Q: Why do you enjoy teaching and working with college students?

A: A large part of my job in admissions and recruiting was talking up ACU and describing why it is such a unique university. One of the biggest factors that set ACU apart from other universities is our faculty. They are remarkably caring, intentional, and truly make a difference in students’ lives. After talking with Dr. Vardiman, I realized that I did not just want to talk about that difference, I wanted to make that difference. I am excited to help students learn how to hold a more global worldview. The more we learn about other cultures, the more we learn about our own and discover peace as we begin to understand each other. I believe in not just teaching content, but presenting it in new and innovative ways that emphasize a continually expanding worldview.

Q: Outside of teaching, what passions/hobbies do you have?

A: I have traveled internationally for ten years for work. Traveling is one of those professions that when people hear what you do, they assume you are just on a glorified vacation. There are also different perceptions of some places over others and the idea of glamorous travel wears off very quickly. To continuously travel for work for so long, you have to have a passion for what you do and a passion for other cultures. I love learning how those different from myself think, why they do what they do, and watching people solve the universally same problems in different ways.

Q: What is something that students might be surprised to find out about you?

A: I play on the “Sunflowers of Death” soccer team with Dr. Jessup and have a superhero alter ego, Chido Man, who represents the idea that God has given us talents to make a difference in the world.

Garcia will continue to teach International Business and Principles of Marketing as he assumes his full-time position in the fall. We are excited to see what he does in this role and to welcome him further into the COBA family.

Back from the Mountaintop: Students Attend 21st Leadership Summit

by   |  02.01.19  |  Academics, COBA Alumni, COBA Events, COBA Faculty, COBA Staff, Current Students, Faith Infusion, Leadership, Leadership Summit, Lytle Center, Special Speakers

The 2019 Leadership Summit group.

In January, over seventy students traveled to the top of a mountain in Colorado and spent a week learning about leadership from thirteen speaker sessions and a team of faculty and staff from ACU. Through the dynamic speakers, practical application of what is taught, and spiritual insight, students are equipped for leadership in the family, in their community, in the church, and in the marketplace. This short course is one of the most transformational experiential learning opportunities COBA offers and is always a favorite for students that attend.

Wendy Davidson and Elise Mitchell speak to students.

A unique aspect of Leadership Summit is an opportunity for students to hear from CEO’s, inspiring speakers, and ACU faculty and staff and get to know these individuals on a personal level. “One of the speakers shared a really impactful story about facing significant troubles in the workplace as a direct result of sharing his faith,” said Lincoln Jones, a senior accounting and IS major. “His testimony encouraged me to not fear the backlash from bringing faith into the workplace.” Some of the speakers from this year include Brad Gautney, founder and president of Global Health Innovations, Rick Atchley, preaching minister at The Hills, Wendy Davidson, president of U.S. Specialty Channels Kellogg Company, Tim Goeglein, senior advisor to the president and vice president for External Relations at Focus on the Family and deputy director of the White House Office of Public Liaison from 2001-2008 for President George W. Bush, Carlos Sepulveda, chairman of Triumph Bancorp, Inc. and former president and CEO of Interstate Batteries, Mike Willoughby, CEO of PFSweb, Inc., Elise Mitchell, founder and chair of Mitchell Communications and CEO of Dentsu Aegis PR Network, and Pete and Austin Ochs, founder/chairman and CEO, respectively, of Capital III.

Students have the chance to ask speakers questions at the end of each session.

In addition to lecture sessions, students are able to spend time talking with speakers one-on-one and share meals with them. Some of the speakers serve as mentors for a ‘River Crossing’ project, a project that challenges students to make a plan to use their given leadership positions to make a difference in the world. Taylor Gould, a junior marketing major, said that her favorite part of the experience “was simply being in Colorado and feeling connected with my professors, classmates, and the speakers. It was amazing to be able to experience all of it with people who you would never meet otherwise and people you see every day. The lessons from the week were very applicable and made me feel so inspired.” A community connection is at the core of Leadership Summit and happens at many different levels between every person – speaker or student – in attendance.

Zach Smith, Hill Holloway, and Hayden Hood swing off the side of the mountain on ‘The Screamer.’

While the week offers many moments for educational, spiritual, and community-centric transformation, the location also allows students to have a lot of fun. The class is currently held at Frontier Ranch, a  YoungLife camp outside of Buena Vista, Colorado and YoungLife staff serve the Summit attendees throughout the week. Students can hike up to the crosses at the top of a mountain peak, swing off the side of a mountain on the Screamer, play archery tag, and spend time building community and fellowship in the game room. These experiences give students the chance to spend time with each other and grow in deeper connection (and also face their fears, especially if they have a fear of heights).

Students spend time in community with each other throughout the week.

Every year, students return to Abilene refreshed and challenged to make a difference in their communities and this year was no different. Mariel Delgado, a senior architecture and interior design major, shared that Summit “is not like any other business class you will ever take and the lessons you learn and friendships you make are unlike any other. Hearing everyone’s life stories from such a raw perspective but also just the fact that so many people took the time to come speak to us and pour into our lives for that week.” We look forward to watching how Mariel and all of the other students take what they have learned from the mountaintop and incorporate it into their lives to bring about change that lasts.

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing photos from the trip on our Facebook page as well as some of the speaker sessions for you to revisit and enjoy on our YouTube channel. Keep an eye out for these posts and future ones concerning the incredible and unique opportunity that is Leadership Summit.

Students hike up to the crosses at the edge of one of the ridges of Mt. Princeton.

 

COBA Students Learn About Business & Sustainability

by   |  01.25.19  |  Academics, City of Abilene, Current Students, Social Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

Business & Sustainability students take a tour of the newly revitalized Cisco Downtown.

In January, twenty-two students attended Dr. Sarah Easter’s Business & Sustainability course (MGMT 440), a one-week intensive class that educates students on the opportunities and challenges of developing more sustainable business strategies and practices, and to explore the changing role of business in society and in relation to the environment. “Typically in business, we focus on financial sustainability,” Dr. Easter explained. “We fail to consider the economic and social well-being aspects of sustainability, so this course looks at the impact businesses can have on the community and environment as well.” The course offers many different perspectives on sustainability, examining what that means for a variety of different companies, from large, global corporations to local, small businesses.

This was the third year that the course has been offered but the first year that Dr. Easter incorporated out-of-town field trips in addition to several guest speakers. The students spoke with Abilene business owners, several ACU professors from varying colleges, and with a panel of Cisco downtown business owners. Students took a tour around ACU with Corey Ruff, Associate Vice President of Operations, to understand the campus initiatives for sustainability on a deeper level. They also went to Disability Resources Inc., a residential community for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Cisco mayor Tammy Douglas speaks to Business & Sustainability students.

The students spent half a day in Cisco, TX. They spoke with Joy and Kerry Hedges, the owners of Slowpoke Farms and Slowpoke Market Store. The Hedges made significant lifestyle changes for sustainability regarding the food and products they consumed and extended those values beyond their personal life to their farming methods and business practices. In September, they opened the Slowpoke Market Store, which students were able to visit. The Slowpoke Market Store is a part of the revitalization effort in the downtown Cisco area. Students interacted with a panel of other business owners in the downtown area that are also involved with the revitalization efforts and with Tammy Douglas, Cisco’s first female mayor. Douglas explained the importance of local resources and how they have incorporated sustainable practices in the changes occurring in Cisco and gave students a tour of the downtown area.

By the end of the class, students were able to recognize interactions between environmental, social, and economic decisions, understand the power of business to negatively or positively impact their surroundings, gained exposure to how a variety of different organizations and perspectives tackle today’s sustainability challenges, and became more aware of their own role when participating in personal and professional decisions related to sustainability. Marissa Hickson, a senior marketing major, said that “the most impactful thing I learned in the class was the importance of researching the background, goals, and values of the companies I support. We learned how to evaluate sustainability reports and determine whether or not a company’s values align with ours. I learned that a lot of companies that I have trusted in the past don’t actually operate in the most ethical ways! It’s great to be aware of this now so that I can be sure to support the companies who are actively working to make our world a better place.” The class will be offered next January, so students can ask your advisor about this offering.

COBA Celebrates December Business and Technology Graduates

by   |  12.14.18  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, COBA Staff, Current Students, Faith Infusion, School of Information Technology and Computing, Uncategorized

It’s graduation day for our December graduates and we wanted to take one more opportunity to celebrate this milestone in their lives. Last week, on December the 4th, COBA hosted a luncheon in their honor celebrating them and all of the hard work that has helped them reach this day. Faculty, staff and students enjoyed fellow-shipping with each other, learning more about students’ favorite experiences at ACU and what advice those that were a little older would give them as they go out into the world.

It’s our tradition for a faculty member to give a blessing over the graduates as we say goodbye to them. Dr. David Perkins, Professor of Accounting, did this in an unusual way this year. Known for his guitar ballads in class, he chose to sing the blessing over them with a David Perkins original song.

We hope you’ll enjoy hearing his message to the students as well as seeing some pictures from the event. To the class of 2018 we say thank you for choosing ACU, for investing of yourself in the process, and for making us all better people during your time here. May God bless you and give you wisdom and direction knowing that He has designed you for His purpose and good works, which he has planned and prepared in advance for you to do.

To view the video, click here.

To view all of the pictures from the luncheon, click here.

 

Q&A With a December Grad: Lexi Koon

by   |  12.06.18  |  Academics, Accounting, College Decisions, Current Students, Entrepreneurship, MAcc, Student Spotlights

Lexi Koon, graduating senior accounting and major from Denver, Colorado.

Lexi Koon is a senior accounting and management major with a concentration in entrepreneurship from Denver, Colorado. She is in the integrated Masters of Accountancy program and wants to pursue a career as a CPA after graduation. We asked Lexi a few questions about her time at ACU. Read her answers below!

Q: How has your education at ACU, especially in your department, prepared you for the future?
A: My education at ACU has taught me a lot about learning how to see the world from other people’s perspectives and to be a better listener. That applies primarily to my classes outside of my business classes such as my bible classes, my communications classes, and other electives I have had to take over the years. As far as my education in the accounting department, I feel as though I have been prepared by the accounting department to understand the technical skills I will need to further my career as a CPA. It feels really great to come out of four years of school and know that I actually have the skill sets to be successful in a specific field and to also know that I will use what I learned in those classrooms every day in my career. In the business management department, my professors prepared me for my future by exposing me to different aspects of business as a whole, they inspired me to set extraordinary goals and challenged me to dream big (like in entrepreneurship class with Jim Litton), and above all else, they prepared me by showing me they believed in me.
Q: What has been your favorite thing/memory about your time at ACU and COBA? 
A: Wow, that is a really hard question. I don’t know if I can necessarily pick a favorite, but it’s more-so a combination of all the times professors tried really hard to make bad jokes in class, when they invited us over for “Grilleniums” or when they invited us to worship events at their church. My most cherished memories have been when professors stopped class to give us a “real talk” about life or when they shared what was going on in their lives to give us encouragement in ours. My favorite experience at ACU by far has been getting to have my professors over and over again in class and building relationships with them to where I know they actually care about their students. From book club with Dr. Laura Phillips to bible study with Dr. Easter, they all have made a huge impact on my life as a student at ACU. The professors at ACU are funny, they are thoughtful, they are kind, and they are beyond caring.
Q: What was your favorite class in the accounting department?
A: Answering this question is difficult because the professors are all so different. All of the professors are great and they all bring a different character to the classroom. Content-wise and professor-wise, I would have to say Income Tax with Dr. Fowler has been my favorite class as an undergraduate. I dreaded having to take that class because, well, who wants to learn about taxes? I found that Dr. Fowler is one of few people in the world who can actually make learning about tax fun. He made us laugh almost every day and he challenged us, but he also believed in us. I’m also currently in his Corporate Tax class in the MAcc program and I can say that may be the hardest class I have ever taken but I still love it because he teaches it and constantly re-affirms us that we can do it.
Q: Who was your favorite professor and why?
A: I spoke a little about Dr. Fowler in that last question, but to answer this question, Dr. Fowler was my favorite professor because he went above and beyond to make us know that we are more than just a number in his class. He is typically known for teaching some of the hardest classes in the accounting department but he is also the professor that sends us emails to tell us he believes in us, that he is proud of us, and that he is here for us. Almost every day in class, he tells us a funny story to make what should be boring content enjoyable, and several times throughout the semester he has stopped class to point out seasons of celebration in our own lives and other times he took the time to be real with where he’s at and the hardships that life faces us all. He made our classes become family and I would go back and take those extremely hard classes again as long as I knew he was teaching it.
Q: If you could talk to a prospective student considering coming to ACU, why would you tell them to choose ACU?
A: I would tell them to choose ACU because it is like no other college they will go to. The “ACU Difference” is the community that you find along the way. This should be apparent in my responses from earlier questions, but the professors, the faculty, and the students have shown me what it is to look at those who are different from me and want to learn from them, to learn how to love them, and to be surrounded by a circle of people who have your back 100%. As I leave ACU, I feel completely supported and surrounded by an extraordinary amount of love and I am thankful. You will never be a number here. The first year is tough at any college, but as you continue to grow your experience here, you will walk around and be known, and that is what the walking in the Kingdom looks like.

Tales from Abroad: COBA goes to Australia and New Zealand

by   |  10.02.18  |  Academics, Accounting, COBA Faculty, Current Students, MAcc, Study Abroad, Uncategorized

Our last installment in our COBA Study Abroad series highlights the MAcc (Master in Accountancy) trip to Australia and New Zealand, led by Dr. Curtis Clements and Dr. Kyle Tippens. MAcc students received credit for International Accounting and Financial Reporting and International Financial Markets. We can’t think of a better way to learn about global business than being immersed in it! We asked Dr. Clements to tell us what it’s like to learn in the land down under.

 

What made your destination a unique place to study?

We didn’t really have a home city.  Instead, we traveled to three cities:  Sydney and Melbourne in Australia and Auckland in New Zealand.  We chose Australia and New Zealand because we had business contacts there and for their diverse cultures.

 

What businesses were you able to visit? 

We visited a number of companies and organizations.  These include PWC, KPMG, EY, the Sydney Wool Exchange, The Australian Accounting Standards Board, The Australian Auditing Standards Board, ANZ Bank, Australia-New Zealand Chartered Accountants, and Xerox.

 

Did you take the students on any sight seeing tours? 

In Sydney we went to Taronga Zoo.  Taronga is a world-class zoo with many different animals from around the world.  We also took a nighttime harbor cruise during the Vivid Sydney festival, which was outstanding.  In Melbourne, we took a trip outside the city on a train powered by a steam engine.  In New Zealand, we toured Hobbiton where the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed as well as the Hobbit movies.  We also went to the Te Puia Maori Village‎ cultural center in Rotorua.  On their own, the students also traveled to the Blue Mountains, Manly Beach, and Bondi Beach in Sydney.  They attended an Aussie Rules football game, went to Brighton Beach, and watched the penguins come ashore in Melbourne.  In New Zealand, the students traveled to several locations outside of Auckland.

 

What is it like to be able to spend so much time with students in another country? How does it differ than being in a classroom setting in Abilene?

The experience was outstanding!  You get to know the students so well and they get to know you beyond what they see in the classroom.  It allows you to speak into their lives on a much deeper level.  We learned so much about the students and, hopefully, they know us and our families better.

 

What were your favorite moments/experiences of the trip?

Two things stood out for me.  First, my wife and I were able to renew friendships with people we haven’t seen in 27 years.  As far as the academic part of the trip, there are so many things that were enjoyable and informative.  I don’t think we had a bad visit and it is really hard to point to one thing.  It was interesting as I was reading the students’ journals as they would say, “This is the best thing on the trip!”  And then just a day or two later, they would say the same thing!  As far as the sightseeing, I would have to say the trip to Hobbiton was the best thing we did.

 

If students could only learn one thing, what do you hope they learned?

That we live in an interconnected world.  This is especially true in business. As an aside, I also hope they learned that what we teach and tell them in class really matters!

 

Anything else I’ve forgotten to mention that you would like to talk about?

We have some outstanding students!

Intern Spotlight: Trent Warren

by   |  10.01.18  |  Academics, Internships, Student Spotlights, Student Spotlights

Trent Warren at Schriever Air Force Base.

Trent Warren is a senior business management major from Colorado Springs, Colorado. This summer, Trent was an intern for Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company. Trent worked as a systems engineer in the Experimentation Lab (X-Lab) at the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Specifically, Trent worked in control account management, space system engineering, and also participated in the Lockheed Martin summer intern project.

Trent was able to grow professionally this summer because of the variety of projects he worked on and what he learned from his coworkers. He gained experience in finance, programming, and engineering because he was not limited to one type of project. He also knows that working with the brilliant people in the X-lab was key to his growth this summer. Throughout his internship, they guided Trent and challenged him to accomplish difficult but rewarding tasks.

Trent’s favorite part of his internship was working in the X-Lab. He got to work on and solve new and exciting problems. Even though he was there for a short time, Trent feels as if the work he did helped those around him and, more importantly, fulfilled the mission and values of the MDA. Trent’s experience will help launch him into a promising career in systems engineering. He discovered a lot about what it means to be an engineer and how to overcome obstacles in the job. Trent plans to take the lessons he learned this summer with him for the rest of his life.

Reflecting on his internship, Trent has three pieces of advice for future interns:

1. Push through your blockers. Whenever you get stuck on something, or whenever a task just seems too difficult to accomplish, keep attacking it from every conceivable angle. There are plenty of people that can do most of the work on a job. What makes you stand out is if you can use your resources to finish a job that no one else can figure out.

2. Write. Down. Everything. Every business has their acronyms and lingo. If you do not understand what something means in a meeting or in a conversation, write it down and ask someone later. Knowledge is power, and the first step to knowledge is writing down what you don’t know (which is usually almost everything at first). 

3. Work hard for the right reason. In every business, there are people who are just working for the next promotion. Personally, I work for the people around me, for the mission of the organization, and for my God. Pick what you work for because that philosophy affects every decision you make.

Tales from Abroad: COBA goes to Central America

by   |  09.14.18  |  Academics, COBA Faculty, Current Students, Entrepreneurship, Faith Infusion, Social Entrepreneurship, Student Spotlights, Study Abroad, Uncategorized

COBA professors and students were world travelers this summer, as we have covered in parts 1 and 2 of our blog series on our study abroad trips. This July, professors Laura and Mark Phillips took students to Central America where they received course credit in MGMT 419 (Global Entrepreneurship) and MGMT 340 (Fundamentals of Life Design). We asked Dr. Laura Phillips to tell us about their experience. We hope you enjoy the third installment of our four part blog series on the 2018 travels of the COBA Study Abroad program.

 

 

What made Central America a unique place to study? 

Central America is a unique place to study Global Entrepreneurship because while the culture, laws, and economic environment are different from the United States, Central America is a place with lots of start-up businesses. Also, the people are very hospitable which makes visiting start-ups easier. In addition, Central America is small geographically but the different countries are unique. Some of the challenges of starting a business in Costa Rica are different from the challenges of starting a business in Honduras. Finally, we were able to see first hand how the government can drastically alter the business environment; the recent unrest in Nicaragua is an unfortunate example of the instability inherent in emerging economies.

 

 

What businesses were you able to visit?

I’m not even sure where to start here. I guess I’ll just make a list.

San Jose, Costa Rica

  • Yuxta Energy–solar energy
  • e.e.d.–legal services for social ventures
  • VivaIdea–a think tank for increasing the impact of entrepreneurship in Latin America

Guanacaste region

  • Vida Adventura–adventure camp
  • Hotel Las Tortugas–small private hotel in Playa Grande
  • Taco Star–taco shop on the beach

Sarapiqui region

  • Chilamate Rainforest Eco Retreat

Turrialba region

  • CATIE University and the Sustainability House
  • butterfly farm
  • dairy/cheese making business
  • beneficial plants business (medicinal, herbs, etc.)
  • pueblo tourism business

Honduras

  • Mission Lazarus–here we also
    • made organic fertilizer
    • conducted a half day training session for the students and teachers at the vocational schools on basic business topics
  • hardware store
  • bootmaker
  • trash collector/recycler
  • restaurant owner
  • coffee farm/barber shop/tienda owner

For the most part we visited with the entrepreneur (or an employee for the larger organizations) to learn about what they do, what the biggest challenges are, how/if they plan to grow, etc.

 

 

Did you take the students on any sight seeing tours?  

  • Walking tour of San Jose
  • Ziplining at Vida Adventura
  • Horseback riding at Vida Adventura
  • Surfing lessons at Playa Grande or
  • Canoeing on the estuary at Playa Grande
  • Birdfinding nature walk
  • Hike to waterfall and swimming
  • Cultural scavenger hunt (milking cows, Latin dancing, making tortillas, etc.
  • Archaeological tour

The students enjoyed the sightseeing activities. They were a lot of fun.

 

 

What is it like to be able to spend so much time with students in another country? How does it differ than being in a classroom setting in Abilene?

This particular study abroad is different from going to Oxford or Leipzig because we really are all together most of the time. There were even a couple of places where we stayed in one big house. It’s very different because in Abilene you are with your students in class and then they do their own thing the rest of the time. On this study abroad we usually eat together, we travel together, we spend much of our free time together, plus we have class together. You really get to know each other and, as the students said, you become more like family.

 

 

What were your favorite moments/experiences of the trip?

Well, I love the fact that we are outside so much and that even when you are “inside” you are usually outside. In many ways life is harder but in many ways it’s simpler. The pace of life is slower and the people put more emphasis on relationships than on to-do lists. Most of our students found the Latin pace therapeutic. There were many great experiences but one of my favorites was going in the butterfly house. The house was full of flowers and the butterflies seemed like flying flowers. It was beautiful.

I also loved watching our students conduct the business training for the people at Mission Lazarus. That activity was a real challenge and stretch for our students, especially since we were having to work through a translator. They students rose to the challenge and did a fantastic job!

 

If students could only learn one thing, what do you hope they learned? 

I would want our students to learn that people are people everywhere; we are more similar than we are different. I would want them to learn that there are business opportunities everywhere but that to be successful you MUST know the culture and context of the place in which you are operating. I would want them to know that the fast-paced, individualistic, climb to the top American business style is not the only way to live. I would want them to know that being happy and being successful are not directly tied to a salary amount or prestige. (So…that’s four things, but they are kind of related.)