Ahlers Fellow Kayla Meijer: The Challenge & Reward of the CUIBE Case Competition

“The Northeastern CUIBE International Case Competition was by far the best thing I have ever done in my undergraduate career. It was extremely challenging, intimidating, and overwhelming, but that was all outweighed by the fun, excitement, and reward for our hard work during the trip.

When I was a freshman at USD, I was a member of the International Business Club. Upon hearing about CUIBE, I knew right away it was something I wanted to do, mostly because it was in my hometown of Boston, MA. I applied knowing full well that I wouldn’t be selected because I had not taken the necessary upper division courses and was far too inexperienced. However, I was hoping that whomever was reading my application would see that CUIBE was definitely something I was passionate about and truly wanted to do. When sophomore year came around, I applied again, and then again my junior year, knowing I wouldn’t be chosen but still hoping that my persistence was being noted and would eventually pay off.

I pushed myself to take the classes I needed to become eligible for CUIBE, to gain more knowledge in my upper division classes, and to become involved with the Ahlers Center. By the time the CUIBE application came around this year, I was finally ready. I worked hard on my application for the fourth and final time, and submitted it with a touch of anxiety, knowing that it was a very competitive opportunity. Although I felt much more confident about my submission at the time, I still had some nervousness that I might not be selected for the one undergrad opportunity I had been wanting for my entire time at USD.

On September 25 – arguably one of the most exciting days of my life – I received an email from the Ahlers Center and saw the first word: “Congratulations.” I was finally going to go to the CUIBE competition and complete one of my long time goals. Needless to say, I did a “happy dance” and probably embarrassed myself publicly. Laura Glennie, Michael Burrafato, and Enrique Contreras were the others selected to be in the competition and were my new teammates for this exciting ride.

I knew I was in for a tough few months, filled with practice and uncertainty, but when November 4th rolled around I was ecstatic. We got into Boston that Wednesday night on the 4th, and we were able to grab dinner and do a little exploration of the city before we went to bed. The next day, we had almost the entire day to explore the city, which was incredible and allowed us to relax before things really got interesting. We were given the case that night at a banquet with the rest of the teams and spent a few hours mapping out a game plan for Friday, which was our day of incredibly hard work.

We had until Friday (less than 24 hours) to decide what we wanted to suggest as consultants, create a thorough PowerPoint and strategy, and practice the presentation. We worked hard all day, stopping only for a short lunch at the delicious Union Oyster House in the North End of the city. We were able to finish and have time to sleep (some groups did not even get this luxury!). The next day, none of us could decide if it was anxiety or excitement we were feeling before our presentations. It quickly turned out to be pure excitement; after a lot of practice, we felt very confident about what we had to share with the highly esteemed judges. We presented to two different sets of judges, once in the morning and then again in the afternoon with lunch served in between.

On Saturday evening, the awards ceremony and networking reception was held in the hotel where everyone involved in the competition was staying. We got to know our competitors, the judges, and the team advisors, finding out where they were from and how they felt about the trip. We were then asked to take our seats for the awards ceremony.

They started with the 3rd place teams, which turned out to have come to a tie. One of the 3rd place teams happened to be another Southern California team from San Diego State University. Knowing that we didn’t get 3rd meant we did really well or we didn’t place at all – I thought my heart was going to pound out of my ears. In fact, my heart was pounding so loudly that I barely did hear the next name announced: 2nd place was the University of San Diego!

There aren’t words to describe the type of excitement and happiness we all were feeling in that moment. I felt like I was floating as we walked to the front of the room to receive our plaque and our “Winner” snapback hats (kind of a unique prize, but we liked them regardless!) and to get our picture taken. It was the perfect ending to make all of our hard work and stress pay off, and to show off the incredible talent that comes from the International Business program at USD. For me, it had an extra special touch because I had not only achieved my goal of going to CUIBE, but thanks to the caliber of my team and the education we are all receiving at USD, I was also a part of winning 2nd place at the competition of my dreams.”

Read more about our Ahlers Center Fellows on the Fellowship blog page!  For information about applying for this Fellowship program, contact Danielle Levanetz.

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