by Colton Campbell

Calling itself “Team India 2017,” the group of young economists from the University of West Georgia recently traveled 8,000 miles to bring some hardware back to Carrollton.

Ka’Ra Thompson, Anna Jinks, Jesse Aldridge, James Kilpatrick
L to R: Ka’Ra Thompson, Anna Jinks, Jesse Aldridge, James Kilpatrick

Four students from UWG’s Richards College of Business traveled to Mumbai, India, in December for the International Economic Convention, which brings together students from around the globe to compete in a presentation competition. The team finished third overall, marking the fifth top-three finish in the past six years for a UWG team.

The team, which was chosen in May 2017, worked for seven months to prepare for the competition.

It included Anna Jinks, Jesse Aldridge, Ka’Ra Thompson and James Kilpatrick. Jinks said she is “forever indebted” to UWG and its college of business for allowing her to be part of Team India 2017.

“I honestly cannot describe the experience I had in India, but I know the culture, hospitality and – of course – the food left an everlasting mark on my life,” Jinks said. “It was a long seven months of research and preparation leading up to the trip, but the knowledge and skills I have gained from the writing and presentation will be useful through the rest of college and my career.”

The team performed extensive research and analysis on the given topic of demonetization as a monetary policy, writing a research paper and preparing a presentation to give before a panel of judges.

Kilpatrick called the trip to India “one of the most meaningful experiences” of his life.

“The competition was fierce, and I am very proud of our team for having done so well,” Kilpatrick said. “The best part of the whole thing was after we gave our presentation. The guest speaker at the event came to us and told us that we gave her hope for her country. That was the moment that I decided that we did a good job. I will forever be grateful to UWG for this experience.”

The four students were chaperoned by two faculty members, one of who was Dr. Susana Velez-Castrillon, a Richards College business management professor.

“I am proud of the team and their performance,” Velez-Castrillon said. “This year the competition was harder because of the topic. Naturally, the Indian teams had a deeper understanding of the issues around demonetization in their home country, since they had lived through the demonetization process. Our team worked hard at being culturally aware when writing the paper and putting the presentation together, something that I think the other teams and the judges appreciated.”

Faculty chaperones who traveled to India with the team this year were Velez-Castrillon and Dr. Salil Talpade. Faculty members who guided the research paper were Dr. Kim Green and Velez-Castrillon. Dr. John Upson served as faculty sponsor of the program and guided the team’s presentation.

Thompson, who graduated from UWG shortly after returning from India in December, said the trip to India was another opportunity for her to expand her perspective, after having spent a year in France, thanks to programs and financial aid provided by the Richards College of Business.

“India provided a whole different picture of humanity for me,” Thompson said. “The easiest way to explain the trip is the expansion of perspective. The competition was an overall great experience to witness the hard work and intelligent minds in India, while the attractions planned for us gave us a small glimpse into the culture of India. I was weary of leaving but was glad to have seen a new part of the world.”

Aldridge said attending the International Economics Convention as a UWG representative is a goal he’s had since he was a freshman.

“I made my first attempt at making the team in 2016, but I was not accepted,” Aldridge said. “However, my desire to obtain the opportunity this year was fueled by that disappointment, and I’m proud to say I was accepted this year to represent West Georgia. India left an impression that will stay with me for my entire life. The Richards College of Business has provided an opportunity that is priceless for these students. A classroom cannot teach what Team India 2017 has learned through this experience.”

Posted on January 16, 2018