An all-female team from Drexel University emerged as the winners of the 2018 National Diversity Case Competition, followed closely by teams from the University of Washington, Boston College and the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.
Despite a major snowstorm impacting the Midwest, 33 of the 35 business school teams were able to make it to IU Bloomington for the event, which was hosted by the Kelley School for the seventh straight year. More than 130 undergraduate business students competed.
“It is an honor to bring together so many extraordinary students from some of the best colleges and universities in the United States, along with representatives from some of our country’s great companies,” said Josh Perry, faculty chair of Kelley’s Undergraduate Program.
“The weekend provides Kelley with an opportunity to showcase our long-standing commitment to foster a community where all students can come together to feel supported and included, and also offers all attendees multiple opportunities to make connections and share ideas about diversity initiatives within other schools, corporations, or regions of the country,” Perry added. “It is both an opportunity to learn and to develop one’s professional networks.”
Sharaine Eldafrawy, a member of Drexel’s winning team, said she has always been motived by her parents, who emigrated from Egypt to the United States.
“My parents risked their futures to come to the USA and seek greater opportunities for my siblings and me,” said the sophomore at Drexel’s Lebow College of Business. “That has always motivated me to work harder and reach higher. My main goal in life is to make my parents proud and prove to them through accomplishments like these that the hardships are worth it. It means so much to them and means the world to me to make them proud.
“To have our work resonate with executives from amazing companies and students from across the nation, that was a huge accomplishment for me,” Eldafrawy added.
Perry noted that the competition among students seems to get stronger each year.
“The students’ preparation and poise – especially under pressure – is inspiring. It is even more impressive when you realize that these students have full plates of classes, exams, papers, and part-time jobs or extra-curricular activities that they are also juggling,” he said. “The work ethic of these students really stands out.”
While there can only be one winner, competitions like this provide students with simulated real-world experience that helps them foster greater resilience and flexibility. They also help students polish their analytical problem-solving skills and grow more confident in speaking and responding to questions publicly.
The National Diversity Case Competition’s opportunities for corporate networking and professional development enable students to hear directly from professionals about how to best prepare for future careers.
“It was a great experience to meet and network with students like us from all over the country,” said one of Eldafrawy’s teammates, Alexis Serra, a junior at Drexel. “It is inspiring to hear about what they are studying, their goals, and the companies they are interning at…. I personally had many takeaways from the workshops.”
“It is a holistic experience with great value for all participants, regardless of how the teams ultimately place in the final standings,” Perry said.