by Amy K. Lavender
Four University of West Georgia students returned home from India last week with a little something extra to place on the mantle above their stockings. Standing two and a half feet tall and shimmering in gold, it may just outshine any other present these students receive this year.
Richards College of Business students Earvin Anumgba (marketing and management major), Miringu Kiarie (economics major), Emily Phillippi (economics and finance major), and Natysha Wright (accounting major) returned this week from a 10-day trip to the 23rd International Economic Convention in Mumbai, India, with four big prizes: “Best Paper,” “Best Presentation,” “Best Speaker” and the top prize (represented by the giant, gold-colored trophy in the photo) of “Best Overall.” UWG brought home a total of 14 awards from the event.
“All the long nights over the past seven months have been worth it!” said Wright, who missed her own graduation ceremony to attend the competition and brought home an individual award for “Best Overall Contribution” to her team. “Winning this competition and taking that walk to accept our trophies literally brought tears of joy to my eyes; it was the best graduation gift I could ask for.”
Teammate Anumgba, who also won an individual award for best speaker, echoed her sentiments, and said, “It feels great to win, especially to be able to represent West Georgia during the process. I felt like we had a really good chance of winning. We just needed to have a complete show.”
UWG was one of only two North American universities represented at the annual convention, where teams from nine schools all over the world competed. The convention theme this year was “Corporate Social Responsibility: Lessons from Abroad” and each team was assigned a specific country to report on. Richards College of Business was assigned Germany. For the competition, students were required to write a 35-page empirical research paper and prepare a 25-minute presentation.
The competition was fierce as Emily noted, “The convention was amazing and an eye-opener regarding how advanced the Indian students are in their studies.”
However, the team was up for the challenge and has clearly earned some bragging rights – for both themselves and the faculty.
“We are very proud of Team India and their success,” said Richards College of Business Dean and Sewell Chair of Private Enterprise Dr. Faye McIntyre. “They are excellent representatives of the caliber of students we have here at the Richards College of Business.”
For the competition, students were judged on the content of their paper, their presentation, and how well they did with the question and answer section of the competition. They presented in front of three judges, other competitors, and a large audience of students and faculty. For their presentation, UWG’s team chose the context of a popular Indian talk show, which was received very well by the audience.
The students’ efforts were entirely extracurricular. They began last spring by auditioning for a role on the team. After being selected, they began their research over the summer.
“When we selected this team, we knew they had a lot of potential. I’m very proud to see that they turned potential into reality,” said Dr. John Upson.
To guide the students, Dr. Kim Green and Dr. Susana Velez-Castrillon supervised the development of the research paper, Dr. Upson assisted with presentation development and logistics, and Dr. Salil Talpade and Dr. Beheruz N. Sethna traveled with the team to India.
"I feel very proud of these students,” said Dr. Velez-Castrillon. “They worked very hard throughout the summer and fall semesters. They were juggling classes, internships and family obligations while working on this large project. I think they succeeded not only because of their hard work, but also because they were able to identify their individual strengths and learned to trust each other."
The students said their success was hard-won, yet almost unreal.
“It feels surreal thinking that we won the best research paper, presentation, and overall,” said Phillippi. “All of us keep bursting into laughter when we think about the consecutive announcements calling [our team as] the winners for each section. I feel proud and ecstatic!”
After the convention, the students were able to relax and tour Mumbai.
“People are very friendly and welcoming. I loved the country and definitely want to return,” said Phillippi.
This is the fifth year that University of West Georgia has competed in the International Economic Convention in Mumbai. UWG also won the competition in 2013.