2020 DEIC Campus Rounds

It’s official — schools are registered, teams are chosen and Campus Rounds are complete! Teams of students from 13 colleges and universities around the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will move on to the second round of the Direct Effect Innovation Challenge for America250PA’s Buy PA initiative.

In the Campus Rounds, students had to develop marketing campaign concepts focused on the goal of helping PA businesses grow. With the pandemic being a factor, each school uniquely adapted the Campus Round structure to choose winning teams. Moving forward, the winning student teams will develop their concepts even further into B2B marketing campaigns, and they will present their campaigns virtually to a panel of judges for a chance to advance to the final round.

Let’s check in with some of the faculty advisors and students as they reflect on Campus Rounds and prepare for round two:

Faculty Advisor Feedback

  • Melaina Benscoter, Business Division Faculty at Lackawanna College, says, “This year the campus round looked a little different at Lackawanna College since we participated during our weekly Zoom meetings. One thing that didn’t change were the [students’] amazing ideas and concepts to help build community and strengthen business relations. As always, our students impress me with their thoughtful ideas and contributions. For the BuyPA campus round, the students understood that communities need our help more than ever in the [midst] of COVID-19. I am proud of their accomplishment and team work and I look forward to seeing how their ideas progress!”

  • Steve Kandray, Assistant Professor of Business and Marketing at Thiel College, explains that he recruited a team of four motivated students for the Campus Round and that the team utilized Zoom for brainstorming sessions. “My biggest takeaway was to trust your students,” he says. “During the initial brainstorming session I had a lot of ideas I wanted to share with our team. I felt the urge to try and guide them in a certain direction. However, I was determined to remain as hands-off as possible and the let the student team generate their own ideas.” He adds, “At the end of the day the students ended up submitting a final concept different than what I’d expected, but I was extremely impressed with their creativity and professionalism.” With a team made up of business administration majors on a marketing and advertising track, Kandray says, “the entire DEIC project is a perfect way for them to gain valuable experience they can use to stand-out when interviewing for a job.”

  • David Mazure, Professor of Art + Design at East Stroudsburg University, also selected some of the school’s “most talented and hard-working students” alongside other faculty members. He shares that some of his students currently work in the university’s student-run design agency, New Mind Design. This is Mazure’s first year taking part in a DEIC as a faculty member, and so far he says, “…I have found that this is a great opportunity to build upon community partnerships I have been developing through my Design for Good projects in our county, as well as, yet another experiential learning project for our students (who have become quite accustomed to them throughout their time here at ESU as it is a focus of our graphic design program).”

Student Feedback

  • Alex Arriola, sophomore Marketing major at Rosemont College, shares that his school’s Campus Round involved a “competitive atmosphere” as he and his partner, Emily Frohner, competed against another team to advance. His favorite experience was “talking to the judges and getting their suggestions on how to improve on the presentation.” He and his partner plan to focus more on the target audience and the central idea of their concept as they develop a campaign. “My partner and I are looking forward to doing good in round two,” Arriola says. “Also, to make a name for the Rosemont College community.”

  • Jeffrey Lakes, Web Development and Design student at Pittsburgh Technical College, says that his college organized Campus Rounds through Blackboard Collaborate sessions. His favorite part of the experience was “[c]onnection and focus as a team,” adding that “creating what we believe can win is a blast!” As for what he looks forward to most in the next round, he replies, “Our idea catches fire and we can make this a reality.”

  • Urska Medvesek, senior Communications and Marketing major at Saint Francis University, explains that her school’s Campus Round was held in her marketing research class. “My favorite part of the process was brainstorming the ideas with my team and eventually tying them into a bigger picture which we then submitted,” she says. Medvesek shares that her team considered the question, “What do you think of when you hear Pennsylvania?” and that this question influenced their concept’s focus on “the people” and small businesses of PA.

  • Samantha Black, senior Human Resources Management major at Shippensburg University, shares that this is her second year in a row participating in a Direct Effect Innovation Challenge for America250PA, adding that “it was as much of a success at our campus as it was last year, even with [the] continuing pandemic.” Her Campus Round was held via Zoom and it received a good turn out from students and faculty. “The thing that I am looking forward to the most is developing skills and hearing feedback from other professionals and students throughout Pennsylvania with the idea of celebrating what it means to be a Pennsylvania citizen.”

Congratulations to all participating students and faculty! America250PA wishes you the best of luck as you move forward to round two!


To follow the progress of the Direct Effect Innovation Challenge, be sure to like and follow @America250PA and @DirectEffectInnovation on social media. You can also learn more about the America250PA initiative at

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