A Freshman First: First-Year Students Win Best Conference Presentation

Nick Costantino, Prachi Shah and Monica McGinnis in Gerri C. LeBow Hall

For the first time ever, a team of first-year LeBow students won Best Conference Presentation at Drexel’s annual Student Conference on Global Challenges.

Nicholas Costantino, Monica McGinnis and Prachi Shah delivered their presentation, “A Call to Help: Economic Development,” in a panel session on global business and economic trends at the conference, run by Drexel’s Office of Global Engagement (formerly the Office of International Programs), on Feb. 28.

That evening, these three, along with other students from Clinical Professor of General Business Jodi Cataline’s Foundations of Business class, were abuzz before the announcement of winners.

Cataline says she told her students to relax: “Freshmen don’t win this. Just applaud when the winners are announced.” Then the news came that Costantino, McGinnis and Shah had taken first place.

“It was a shock, definitely,” Shah says.

The three students met in the Global Learning Community in fall 2018 and took Cataline’s BUSN101 Foundations of Business class together, then were grouped together at the start of the winter term for BUSN102.

The BUSN102 class, Cataline explains, requires students to prepare both presentations and posters on a research topic; the best projects are submitted for consideration for the Conference each year. The winning trio’s topic – the use of cellphones in aiding economic development in emerging markets – took shape early in the winter quarter, with the abstract and presentation coming together in just two weeks.

Costantino, an international business and legal studies major from Palm Beach, Fla., came to LeBow with experience studying economics through the International Baccalaureate program during high school, and he drew on his knowledge of economic development and human capital in assembling data on Human Development Index and cellphone usage.

McGinnis, an accounting and business analytics major from Broomall, Pa., helped ground the presentation in fundamental business principles, and Shah, an accounting major from Harriman, N.Y., focused on outcomes from economic development.

“We found we each had strengths, and that really helped us evaluate a lot of the things we’re learning,” McGinnis says.

Costantino will apply this research experience as a LeBow Research Fellow and through the STAR Scholars program this summer, and McGinnis and Shah are both taking part in the Intensive Course Abroad follow-up to their B102 class by traveling to Germany for an exchange program at the Berlin School of Economics and Law.

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