For business students Kitra Cody and Diego Korol, months of hard work and preparation paid off when the pair won first place in a team event at the national Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) competition, hosted June 24-27 in San Antonio, Texas. This is the first time in recent York College history that students have earned the top spot at the national event.
Other YC students also participated in the national competition, having dominated at the state level. In all, five students and one faculty member represented York at the national conference, competing in nine events. In addition to competitive events, students were able to take part in workshops and lectures, as well as professional networking.

​“I am extremely proud of all of these students,” said Stacie Turnbull, assistant professor of agribusiness and PBL coach. “They all worked hard, preparing, studying, practicing and, most importantly, stepping out of their comfort zones.”
Cody and Korol took the top spot in the emerging business issues competition at both the state and national level. They presented on issues of sustainability, asking the central question of who is responsible for sustainability - the company or the government? Employees at the Bayer Research Facility in Waco, Nebraska, helped the team to prepare. Cody also acknowledged the help of Tim Lewis, assistant professor of business, who worked closely with the pair on research and preparation. “We couldn’t have done it without him,” said Cody.
One of the biggest challenges to overcome was Korol’s fear of public speaking. It was nerve-wracking for the non-native English speaker to give a presentation to a room of business professionals in a language he is still learning. He gave props to his partner, noting that Cody is “the hardest working student at York College.”

Cody recently completed her first year as a business major at YC. She is from Cody, Nebraska, and participates on the cheer team and choir in addition to PBL. Korol has completed his sophomore year and is majoring in business with a minor in accounting. He is from Santiago, Chile, and plays on the YC men’s soccer team. Last year he was the York College PBL chapter competitions officer. Next year he will serve as vice president and Cody will be secretary. This summer, Korol is an intern at IntraLinks, a global business consulting firm with an office in Santiago and Cody has recently started a job with Vector Marketing as a sales representative.

Both Cody and Korol are dean’s list scholars. For their top performance at the national PBL competition, they each won $600 from the national PBL organization.

Other students to participate in the national competition from York College were Ella Montoya of Hampton, Nebraska; Taylor O’Brien of Aurora, Colorado; and Logan Dye of Wylie, Texas. They competed in a number of subject areas, including macroeconomics, non-profit management, business ethics and supply chain management events. 

Dye placed in the top 15 in the nation for her performance in the job interview event. She plans to compete in the same event next year and is determined to break into the top ten. She also competed in the non-profit management category, but did not place. Dye hopes to eventually work in the non-profit sector. This summer she is gaining experience in that field by interning with CitySquare Americorps, an organization that provides food assistance and enrichment activities for underserved children in the Dallas area. Dye is part of one of ten teams that visits apartment complexes throughout the city daily during the summer to make sure at-risk children have access to food and positive social interaction. 

Though Montoya and O’Brien did not place in their events, they had plenty of reward for their work. Montoya participated in three written test events and says, “preparing for them has provided me with a reason to study and expand my knowledge outside of the school year.”

“The more uncomfortable situations you put yourself in, the more they will become comfortable,” O’Brien summed up. “With practice comes confidence.”

O’Brien, who will serve as president of the York College PBL chapter next year, and Korol, upcoming vice president, also attended the PBL Institute for Leaders (IFL) before the national competition began. This event focused on successful chapter leadership (from recruitment to fund raising to collaboration with other chapters) as well as team dynamics. 
“Some leaders are born with natural skills, but by attending a leadership conference like IFL I was able to meet people that made a huge impact in my life and challenged me to develop my leadership skills through different activities,” remarked Korol.
The biggest take-aways for O’Brien were “to ask questions, let them see YOU, trust the process, be open to the flow of life, and grab hold of new opportunities.”

The students and faculty sponsor were grateful to those who made their dreams of national success a reality. “We are grateful for the donors who made this trip possible,” said Turnbull. “Allowing our students to put their business skills to the test, network with professionals and future professionals and strengthen their leadership, communication and business skills was tremendous.”