Three students participating in the Summer Scholars research program spent their summers studying how to improve food security and education in Philadelphia.
Colleges around the country are being faced with mitigating the risks associated with COVID-19 as they reopen their campuses to students. A group of Saint Joseph’s students had an early look at the challenges of developing such a plan – and their efforts won them first prize in a national competition.
This is the second year in a row that a Saint Joseph’s team won first place in the Spencer RIMS Risk Management Challenge, a collaborative effort sponsored by the Spencer Educational Foundation and RIMS, the largest risk management society in the country.
Joe Angelina '20 (who was also on the winning team last year), Kayla Cecchine '20, Nick Myers '21 and Brendan Tarte '20 spent eight months working together to develop a risk management plan for the subject of this year’s case study, the University of Dayton. They were selected from a field of 28 as one of the top eight teams and were invited to present their plans to a panel of judges and an audience at the annual RIMS Conference & Exhibition.
But with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the plans — like most things — needed to change. Challenge leaders made the decision for teams to present their plans virtually to a judging panel via Zoom. The transition to presenting virtually brought challenges the team hadn’t encountered before – they now had to worry about things like lighting, internet connectivity and computer stability, in addition to the content of their presentation.
Michael Angelina, executive director of the Maguire Academy of Insurance and Risk Management and father to team captain Joe Angelina, has acted as the team’s advisor for the past eight years.
“This was the school’s fourth straight year placing in the top three in the competition,” says Angelina. “Students want to be on this team. We don’t necessarily just take the students with the highest GPA, we look for a diversity of skills, background, strong practical knowledge and technical understanding."
We don’t necessarily just take the students with the highest GPA, we look for a diversity of skills, background, strong practical knowledge and technical understanding."
The student who might be the best strategic thinker, Angelina explains, isn’t always the one who has the highest test scores. Teamwork and dedication are also critical aspects of the team’s success, with many nights of planning in the library lasting to the early hours of the morning.
For their winning presentation, the team created four different scenarios for a fall start for the University of Dayton: fully on-ground classes with social distancing; beginning on ground and then transitioning to remote; beginning online and then transitioning to on ground, and fully remote. In each scenario, the team discussed different opportunities and challenges the university might face and made suggestions for dealing with those – for example, for the fully online option they suggested that the university partner with community colleges or online learning platforms to make education more accessible and affordable, which they projected would lead to a higher enrollment and retention rate.
As the team’s only junior year student, Myers will return as next year’s captain and hopes to bring the gold to Hawk Hill for the third year in a row.
“Being chosen as the winning team is a true honor, and I think it really shows the strength of the risk management and insurance program here at Saint Joseph’s,” says Myers. “Mike [Angelina] coached us along the way to really put us in a position to be successful in this competition.”
For Myers, taking home the gold is something of a family affair — his older sister was on Saint Joseph’s winning team last year.
“It was an amazing experience to be a part of this team and competition and winning it really makes all the work we put in worth it,” says Myers. “Also, it feels great that my sister can’t hold her win over my head anymore.