JCU Students Reach Higher

A few years back, John Carroll University sent a delegation of undergraduate students to the National University Model Arab League competition in Washington, D.C. where they earned an Overall Distinguished Delegation Award for their representation of Mauritania. Among the JCU team members were Sami Rafidi and Yohan Joo.

Sami Rafidi, who claims both Youngstown, Ohio and Batroun, Lebanon as his hometowns, graduated magna cum laude from John Carroll in 2018. Today, he attends the prestigious Walsh School of Foriegn Service at Georgetown where he focuses his research primarily on Lebanon’s intra-state politics and sectarianism and identity politics in the Levant (an area that includes Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestine and most of Turkey southwest of the middle Euphrates).

Yohan Joo, was born in South Korea, raised in California, attended John Carroll here in Ohio, and has since returned to Seoul, South Korea where he is a Master’s student at Sogang University studying Business Administration with a focus on Business Analytics.

Competitions such as the National University Model Arab League remind us that a four-year college experience involves an encounter with the world far beyond our 63-acre campus on the edge of Cleveland. 

Each year, our students routinely venture, test themselves, and find a reason for being that can’t quite be contained within a major or distilled onto a diploma. In recent weeks, JCU undergraduates have been seen excelling in ever widening circles. 

Seven JCU teams, consisting of 29 students pursuing minors in entrepreneurship, entered the 2022 Entrepreneurship Education Consortium’s IdeaLabs regional competition alongside students from 10 other regional universities. Two JCU teams advanced to the finals, making JCU the only school with two teams in the finals. 

Uniswipe developed an app designed for college students to improve how they select their roommates. It was developed by Sofia DiCillo, (‘22 Supply Chain Management), Philip Scherbakov (‘22 Kinesiology & Exercise Science), Spencer Hendlin (’22 Finance), and Michael Moore (‘22 Marketing). 

Filter Fresh created a system that uses aromatherapy oils dispersed through forced air ducts to improve the smells and quality of air in houses and apartments. It was developed by Kyle Geringer (’22 Supply Chain Management), Aya Mualem (’22 Finance), and Dennis Ryan (’22 Supply Chain Management).

Uniswipe earned the Grand Prize, $4,000 in seed funding and free mentoring from JumpStart. Filter Fresh finished in fourth place. The judges commended the JCU teams for their innovative ideas and their creative presentation style that made their ideas stand out from the others.

About the same time, five seniors from Boler College of Business learned that they had reached the Americas’ semifinal round of the global CFA Institute Research Challenge where they will compete against schools from the US, Canada and Latin America.

Each year, the CFA Institute Research Challenge attracts teams from more than 1,000 colleges (representing 90 countries) — each tasked with researching and reporting on a single, publicly traded company.

The competition is pitched as a chance for finance and accounting undergraduates to assume the role of research analyst, applying their best thinking and research tools to dissect one company, its market valuation, stock price and outlook for growth.

John Carroll University and the other schools from the Northern Ohio Region were assigned the J. M. Smucker Co., maker of consumer products across three categories: people food, pet food, and coffee. 

“John Carroll stood among 41 teams still standing in this global competition,” said faculty advisor Dr. Jisok Kang. In the Americas’ semi-final, John Carroll University will compete with HEC Montreal, Johns Hopkins University, Universidad Torcuato De Tella, University of Colorado at Boulder, and University of Oklahoma.

For those of us who work and teach on this campus, it’s natural to see our community through the lens of familiarity. But even as we deepen in our mission and purpose, those roots allow for a different kind of growth — out into a wider world of opportunity and influence.

We might all take a minute and celebrate JCU students and faculty, as they dare, in that quiet Jesuit way, to persist in the face of bigger challenges and pursue a larger life.