NWIC students win national business competition

Jun 14th, 2013 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive

This past April, Northwest Indian College (NWIC, Bellingham, WA) students travelled to Scottsdale, Arizona to compete against other tribal colleges in the American Indian Business Leaders’ (AIBL) student business competition. “The competition has us put an idea into words, and then come up with a solid plan for the idea, and then present it in a convincing and thorough enough way to persuade someone to support it,” said NWIC team member Stephanie Charlie. “It gave us hands-on, real world experience. We would have to do the same thing if we were applying for a loan, for instance.”

NWIC team members Jennifer Cordova-James, Allen Revey, Bonnie Russell, Robert Gladstone, and Stephanie Charlie were joined at the conference by NWIC business instructor Steve Zawoysky. Adib Jamshedi, from Lummi Ventures, provided students with his expertise. Students called their plan “Traditional Journeys,” a name that represents the plan’s cultural tourism focus. The plan’s four-hour journey would include a canoe paddle, a traditional meal, storytelling, songs, dance, and a short nature walk to discuss traditional plants and foods.

Charlie said she felt a mixture of emotions heading into the competition—she was both confident and nervous at the same time. “I wasn’t nervous about the quality of our concept, but about presenting it because I get nervous speaking in front of people,” she confessed. “Speaking about the plan got easier each time we practiced it, though.”

And the team practiced a lot, Zawoysky said. “We spent eight to 10 additional hours just practicing the oral presentation once we arrived in Arizona,” Zawoysky said. “It was definitely a working trip.”

All of that practice paid off. The NWIC team’s plan and presentation won first place. “It was really validating for the students,” Zawoysky said. “All of the students were dedicated and motivated to write and present this great business concept. The judges seemed to be most impressed with the cultural content of the concept, by the passionate presentation by the students, and sincere interest in sharing some of the cultural traditions of the Lummi people.”

Zawoysky hopes the win will help build enthusiasm and participation in NWIC’s AIBL chapter, and said NWIC’s victory comes at an ideal time, as the college begins offering courses for its newly accredited Bachelor of Arts in Tribal Governance and Business Management program. “I highly recommend other students get involved in AIBL,” Charlie said. “It’s an experience I will remember for the rest of my life and I look forward to going back again next year.”

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