Four Leadership students from University of San Diego’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) won top honors last weekend at the International Leadership Association (ILA) conference held in Denver, Colorado.
The competition consisted of a three-stage process: a written brief, a poster presentation, and a formal professional presentation. The first stage occurred one month before the conference, when the initial case was distributed to participating university teams. Teams analyzed the case and wrote a five-page brief that was submitted for judging one week prior to the conference.
On the first day of the conference, teams presented a poster of their analyses and solution while answering questions from judges. Scores were tabulated from both their written brief and poster presentation to determine the top three university teams. The top three university teams were required to implement lessons gained from the conference and implement them into their presentation. Fifteen-minute presentations were offered by the final top three teams on the second to last day of the conference. A panel of judges then held a question and answer session to quiz team members about their project and their presentation. Students were scored on their analysis, content, argument support, delivery, persuasiveness, team participation, and responsiveness to the panel’s questions.
Brian Wisdom ’14 said of the experience: “It has been a life-changing experience that I will never forget. I was pushed to the edge of my intellectual capacity. There were times that I felt that I wanted to give up. I had to sacrifice so much to purely focus on the case. I did this because of the amazing individuals I had the fortune to work with.”
Coached by Crystal Dujowich, who is also an instructor at SOLES, the team consisted of Wisdom, Leonice Brown-Young ‘14, Aaron Rivera Dominguez Bours ’15, and Taylor Harrell ’13. USD beat out 13 other universities to take home the top prize. This was the first time USD had entered the competition.
Brown-Young remarked that the win was for more than just the team of five, but for all of USD. “This team went from four students and a professor to one unit led by an amazing coach. Everyone should spread the word of Torero’s triumph, for it was not us alone but the entire school, for USD is home of future leaders.”
The ILA is the global network for all those who practice, study, and teach leadership. Winning this competition is a clear indication of the strength of the leadership program at SOLES.
“Students are often surprised to hear about the leadership minor for undergraduates because SOLES is known for its graduate work. However our undergraduates go on to be changemakers in business, politics, education, the non-profit sector, and the military and each year several of our graduates go on to AmericaCorps, Teach for America, or the PeaceCorps. Winning this competition demonstrates that our leadership minor is cultivating more than just initiative, it is cultivating inspiring minds that can tackle complex challenges and
articulate that knowledge in powerful ways,” said Dujowich.
“Attending and presenting in ILA was an experience that pushed what I thought were the limits of my knowledge, perseverance, and ability which I shared with the most excellent people I have met at USD,” said Bours.
Asked by Professor George Reed whether all the hard work and sacrifice had been worth it in the end, senior Taylor Harrell replied without pause, “We got much more out of this than a first place finish.”
– Melissa Wagoner