McGraw School of Business Semester Updates

Updates from fall 2020: Club participation, awards & professional accomplishments.

December 11, 2020 Academics

Students and faculty in Olivet Nazarene University’s McGraw School of Business were busy during the fall 2020 semester. Taking classes in-person, hybrid and online, students enrolled in the school were able to safely advance their academic knowledge while gaining practical experiences in their desired areas of study.

The School of Business seeks to prepare students with “a head for business; a heart for God’ and hands for humanity.” Throughout the semester, students participated in a variety of clubs to bolster their understanding of the intersection between faith and commerce. The following is a snapshot of fall 2020 in the McGraw School of Business.

Practical Experiences

Initially, Olivet’s student-run marketing agency was beta-tested in fall 2019 with a handful of students. It officially solidified during the fall semester with full branding and the name Zenith Marketing Agency. Around 30 students are involved and the agency is advised by assistant professor of marketing Chris Perez.

Professor Perez says, “I love our new agency name because the students created it and selected it from their peers’ jury. It was created entirely from imagination to creative execution by students, for students.”

The launch of the formalized brand identity provides new energy for the initiative. It emphasizes the group’s mission, which states, “We venture to strategically share the stories of our clients by partnering with them to spread the good word about their causes and help them serve and influence more people.”  

Junior Annie Scherer says, “The name Zenith reflects how we as students are always reaching for the stars and putting forth our best work effort for our clients. In astronomy, the Zenith is the point in the sky directly above an observer. In other words, it is something’s peak—the time when someone or something is at its most powerful point. In the same way, we hope to provide direction for our clients to reach their peak success.”  

Zenith Marketing Agency acts as a real-world organization, but students operate it. The agency is included in all marketing majors’ academic experience and allows students to work for educational credit. Marketing majors working in the agency volunteer their time and provide marketing and communication services such as email marketing and social media planning and development for various organizations. Clients include college departments, small businesses, and community-based nonprofit organizations. The main appeal of a student-run marketing agency for clients is that Zenith can provide professional quality work at no cost or minimal cost to the client.

The Investment club at Olivet manages a portfolio of around $801,000 dollars. This gives students a unique opportunity to not only learn about investments and how to invest a company’s assets, but also practical knowledge into practice. 

The two funds that investment club uses to invest are the Student Scholarship Fund and the Student Engagement Fund. Both funds unique in their own way but both focused on bringing profit to Olivet in order to raise funds for student scholarships.

This semester the Student Scholarship Fund produced a positive rate of return and beat the clubs benchmark at a +13.3% return as opposed to the benchmark of +6.69%. The students believe this is due to the shift from defensive equities to cyclical equities. 

Jonah Posthumus says, “We have learned how to invest in a pandemic, an election, and a recession all in one year. I have learned how important it is to have strong foundational principles are that are informed and logical. Fortunately, due to these principles we have made progress in leaps and bounds this semester and even hit an all-time high in our student managed portfolio during one of the most volatile periods of our lifetime.”

The Student Engagement Fund also had a great quarter—not only posting gains, but outperforming the benchmark by 27%. They believe it is because of their focus from defensive equities to cyclical equities that they believed would outperform with the pandemic and promote the shift to working from home and lockdown. 

“Many other schools have investment clubs in which students are able to learn about the stock market and investing, but oftentimes these clubs do not manage a real fund of money,” says student Emma Hayes. “Olivet’s investment club was able to receive many generous donations that we have invested and plan to use as a scholarship fund for students!”

Through a strategic partnership, McGraw School of Business marketing students received the full $6,000 per month subscription of HubSpot software for free to use academically through the recently added Digital Marketing and Emerging Technology course.

This semester, 21 students were awarded their HubSpot Marketing Software certification by completing all their tasks and passing a one-hour final exam. This certification gives students an edge in the job market.

“In August 2020 alone, in the middle of a pandemic, there were 306 job postings on LinkedIn that required HubSpot certifications,” says Julia Gueron, Olivet’s HubSpot Education Partnership Manager. “So, that shows that this ecosystem in this knowledge economy puts a lot of value into HubSpot certifications.  The earlier in your career, you have credentials, like ours, the more value it is for students in the long-term.” 

Professor Perez says, “McGraw’s faculty wants students well-equipped to respond to the real-life business challenges they will face. The certifications offered through HubSpot are just some of the ways we add value through experiential learning.”

During the fall 2020 semester, students participating in Olivet’s chapter of Enactus participated in nine projects. The theme for the Enactus projects during the 2020-2021 school year is “Resolved” and the corresponding verse is Esther 4:14, “For such a time as this.”

Enactus is involved with many different community partners ranging from The Salvation Army and the Food Recovery Network, to a partnership with Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP). 

Senior Madeira Sherwood is a co-president for Enactus. She says, “Enactus focuses on using the lessons from the classroom to take entrepreneurial action that meets real needs and makes a real impact in our community in our world. The reason I have chosen to be a part of Enactus for the last four years is because of the impact we are making. We are feeding the food insecure, delivering beds to kids who don’t have one, offering support to new small businesses, and so much more. In addition to that impact, students are learning that they have the ability to make a difference in this world, and this is a mentality that they will take with them into their communities after graduation.”

Hannah Sears is a co-leader for the group working with SHP. The group partners with Kankakee’s chapter of SHP to build and deliver beds to children in need in the community. Hannah says, “When we deliver the beds to the children, it is so cool to see their excitement about finally having their own bed. Working with SHP has been an opportunity for me to realize how much I take for granted (like having a bed) and to be more grateful for these things.”

Tim Zydek, the Midwest South Regional Director for Sleep in Heavenly Peace says of the partnership with Enactus, “Enactus at Olivet has been a great help to The Kankakee Chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace. They came to us at a time when we were in need and asked how they could help. Enactus put together a plan, recruited some help, and has helped to deliver more than 50 beds in the Kankakee area. I have been blessed to work with them!”

Olivet’s Society for Human Resource Management club is led by Martin Manosalvas, vice president Madi Comer, and treasurer Steve Ringstrand.

The semester started out with a virtual career development series, sponsored by community partner CSL Behring. Throughout the series, students discussed talent requisition and global recruitment. In October, guest speaker Brian Loiacono from CF Industries discussed aspects of compensation and workplace benefits. Later in the month, the club had conversations with Fred Koffman to cover controversial topics including dealing with conflict in the workplace. 

President Martin Manosalvas talked about the effect that SHRM has had on his academic experience. “SHRM has expanded my knowledge and passion for business by diving deeper into the field of human resources.”

The club’s activities for the semester concluded with a workshop on professional strategies for a successful future. The workshop featured Michael O’Connor, a senior manager for Talent Development, and Rocking your LinkedIn profile for future success, hosted by program manager Lauren Jolda.

Olivet’s Healthcare Management division has continued to excel year after year bringing in more students and increasing the pass rate of the Lean Six Sigma Certification exam every year. This semester four students passed the exam.

“Once I heard that I could become certified in Six Sigma, I knew that I needed to take the Health Lean Process Improvement course,” student, Joel Brawly says. “It is extremely helpful in developing one’s knowledge of healthcare while also bringing a prestigious title to a resume,” he reflects. “Olivet’s healthcare division will definitely challenge you, but it will also set you up for a very bright future.”

Professor Alexandria Harris leads the division. She believes that now, more than ever, people should be encouraged to enter into the healthcare field. “On the bright side of this pandemic, students pursuing healthcare management were reaffirmed of their decision,” she says. “We need strong leaders in healthcare. Even during this semester, we were able to meet with profound leaders in healthcare and take the Lean Six Sigma certification exam. I am so proud of my students.”

Although COVID-19 put a halt to some of the normal semester activities of the healthcare management club, it has given the students who control the club the opportunity to prove who they are in the face of adversity. 

Briana Bolser, co-president in the healthcare management club says, “Even though we were unable to meet as a club, we were constantly planning and preparing events for this upcoming semester. Throughout this fall semester we worked hard to find guest speakers, and volunteer opportunities for the students who plan on getting involved in our club this spring!”

Awards & Accomplishments

Gabrielle “Ellie” Murphy was recognized as the Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda, Inc. (FBLA-PBL) winner for 2020 in Region 3 for Post-Secondary Education. Per the FBLA-PBL release “This award is designed to provide recognition to five secondary and five postsecondary outstanding students who have demonstrated leadership potential through enrollment in business courses and involvement in career and technical student organization activities, as well as the school and community.” Ellie is a senior double-majoring in international business and political science, with a minor in Spanish. She is also the student president for FBLA-PBL.

At the end of the summer, Dr. Brad Thomas graduated from Anderson University with his doctoral degree. When the students, faculty and staff arrived back to campus in the fall, they joined him in celebrating the accomplishment. Professor Thomas leads the Management Information Systems (MIS) degree program. Throughout the fall semester, professor Thomas was busy proposing new updates to the MIS course offerings to reflect the industry’s changing needs, professional expectations, and the movement toward student application and career development. Launching in fall 2021, MIS will have two concentrations: data analytics and information technology management.

For more information about the McGraw School of Business and other areas of study, contact the Office of Admissions at or 800-648-1463.

Published 12/11/2020
Edited by LB

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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