March 24, 2022

By Alaina Uricheck ’24

Susquehanna University’s first-ever Innovation Challenge asked student teams to identify a campus-based opportunity for growth and propose a solution. This year’s winners were and Brooke LaCesa ’22, a business administration major; Hannah McLucas ’22, a strategic communications-advertising and marketing major, with minors in entrepreneurship and innovation; and Megan Nelson ’22, a psychology major with minors in entrepreneurship and innovation.

The team proposed an incentivized housing-selection program that would allow students to earn points for each campus event attended. Students who earn more points would be given a better housing selection number.

“The more engaged a student is on campus (joining clubs, attending events) the better number they would receive. This would be based on a point scale, which would be determined by a student committee,” McLucas said. “Over the course of the year students would try to rack up as many points as they could to get a better housing selection number.”

Students were given coaches and mentors to support them through the two-day challenge Mentors Alex Fleck, founder and CEO of The Keeper Box; Georgann Joulfas, business instructor at Colorado Mesa University; John Rendina ’86, COO at Seneca Insurance Companies; and James Tierney, founder of Tierney Education helped students develop ideas and present their final pitch to University President Jonathan Green, Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students Francy Magee, Sigmund Weis School of Business Dean Matt Rousu and Student Government Association President Arianna Sivio ’23.

LaCesa, McLucas and Nelson will split the $2,000 grand prize.

“The innovation challenge allowed the voices of our students to be heard, which empowered them to feel that they are an integral part of our institution,” said Emma Fleck chair and associate professor of management and marketing. “At a time when engagement can be a struggle, we heard that our students want to be engaged. We just need to evaluate what that looks like post-Covid.”

Other students who participated in the event have been encouraged to work closely with the appropriate offices across campus to consider implementing their ideas, Fleck said.

The event was organized by Fleck and Sigma Nu Tau, Susquehanna’s entrepreneurship honor society.