Kristen Portalea

Student Capstone Explains Use of Math in Car Crash Reconstruction

Kristen Portalea, a recent Master of Science graduate from the mathematics education program, completed a capstone project called “The Mathematics of Driving” in which she created a series of lesson plans for Algebra I students to learn skills in the context of car crash reconstruction.

“It included lesson plans that math teachers could use in the classroom that would be relevant to students and connect to the curriculum,” Portalea said.

She chose this project after talking with a police officer friend about classes he had taken in collision reconstruction and the math that was involved, especially the Pythagorean theorem, which she was teaching at the time.

Her five lessons were motivated by her desire to help students realize the meaning behind mathematics. Portalea wrote in her paper, “Students’ qualms about practical uses of their mathematical knowledge can be eased by highlighting the many careers that use mathematics to solve real-world problems.”

Lesson one requires students to find the rate of change between two points on a graph, then apply that to the Federal Highway Administration manual to decide which signs need to be placed on a roadway in order to properly warn drivers.

In lesson two, students build a version of a drag sled that is used by crash reconstructionists to determine the friction on the road surface. This, along with tire marks on the road, helps determine the speed and stopping distance of the driver.

Lesson three, she said, “helps students recognize the importance of solving literal equations—equations with many variables—as well as using algebraic properties to solve equations.”

Lesson four has students develop a formula to calculate the maximum speed a vehicle can go around a curve without losing control. Finally, lesson five combines their skills to work through an accident report as a police officer.

Her research will be published in the spring 2017 issue of “Banneker Banner,” the official journal of the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The Montgomery County Police Department also plans to use the research in its trainings.

“My friend and the police department helped me a lot throughout this project, so I am grateful that my lessons may be useful to the police department,” said Portalea. “Our society drives so frequently that everybody can relate to this application of math.”

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Korva Coleman Kicks Off Passion and Profession Series

NPR newscaster Korva Coleman recently kicked off Hood’s new “Passion and Profession” speaker series with a talk about experiences that guided her through her career, including reflections on the gifts of failure.

Coleman is best known for her role delivering national newscasts airing during NPR’s news magazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition. She said she has always been drawn to radio, majoring in journalism at Howard University and working as a newscaster before moving to Washington, D.C. However, she didn’t immediately recognize radio as her passion.

“I’m passionate about what I am doing because it took some trial and error to discover what I wanted and what I actually needed to do,” she told the audience. “Radio was one of my absolute first loves and has remained so all of my life.”

Before Coleman’s career took off at WAMU, Washington, D.C.’s local NPR station, she was enrolled at Georgetown University Law Center with ambitions of being a lawyer or running for office. Unable to keep her grades up and shake the feeling that law school wasn’t what she was meant to do, Coleman dropped out and jumped on an opportunity to give radio a try. She called the experience “very serendipitous” and credits her failure with allowing her to discover her true passion.

She prodded the audience to ask themselves, “Are you happy with your choices?” and encouraged students to think of Hood College as their safe space to try new things, consider different ways of thinking, and discover their own true passions.

“Take up the mental exercise of trying to take a world view that is different from the one you are accustomed to believing,” she said. “You may ultimately decide that this is not a world view that you want to keep, but how are you going to know this if you haven’t tried it?”

Before her public talk, Coleman also spoke to a class of communication arts and English majors, many with aspirations to work in journalism themselves. As the mother of two college students, she said she knows making choices that will chart the path for the rest of one’s life is scary.

“Go ahead and be afraid, but do it anyway. Whatever that may be,” she advised students. “If you’re not willing to try, you certainly won’t succeed and you’ll never know, and that would be the greatest loss of all.”

She said college is the place students get to test drive all the things they might want to be, and failing, whether that’s changing majors or taking a completely new path than originally intended, can be a great gift.

“Ask yourself, ‘Why am I here? What do I secretly really want to try to do? What would I most regret that I failed to try to do?’” she said to students.

“Remember the purpose of a liberal arts education is to help you answer these questions about yourself,” Coleman continued. “It’s to help you realize your humanity. It is to help you learn to accept the gift of failure and to take the precious lessons from that shortcoming. Don’t miss this chance. Don’t lose this gift.”

The “Passion and Profession” series, created by the Catherine Filene Shouse Career Center and Office of Service Learning and the Office of the Dean of the Chapel, will feature a speaker each semester whose career is based in a particular set of personal values that connect to a current social justice issue. The mission of the series is to introduce students to a variety of professions, to hear the stories of successful individuals and their preparation for and practice of a profession, as well as to understand how a liberal arts education has contributed to their personal and professional development.

Watch Coleman’s complete talk and a video interview below.

Writing the Wrong

Writing the Wrong Initiative Focuses On Advancement of Women

Molly Masterson ’17 and Logan Samuels ’17 launched an initiative called “Writing the Wrong” in the summer 2015, focused on women’s equality, advancement and empowerment, as well as the encouragement of leadership, all in the hopes of attaining peace over prejudice.

They were able to start the program thanks to a Davis Projects for Peace grant, which is awarded to college students who want to create and execute their ideas for building peace and understanding throughout the world. This summer, they were able to continue the program with money they were awarded through a Volpe Scholarship, a prestigious Hood College scholarship that provides funds for exceptional students to take part in unique, experiential learning opportunities.

Masterson, an archaeology and Spanish double major, and Samuels, a communication arts and English double major with a leadership minor, wanted to combine their academic interests and skills to help Spanish-speaking girls learn new English speaking and writing skills. They considered taking their program abroad but decided there was a need in the local community. The pair delved into local English Language Learner programs and used the money from the Davis Projects for Peace grant to implement a five-week after-school program at Frederick High School for immigrant girls from Latin-American countries with a basic to limited understanding of the English language.

“We knew that we wanted to work with young women as we are both passionate about women’s rights, equality and leadership, and we wanted to instill that in a younger generation,” said Samuels.

The goal of the project was to provide an outlet that allowed the girls to express the difficulties they have faced in a healthy and creative way to find peace in their new lives. Masterson and Samuels led the production of a literary journal titled “Palabras de Amor para Zarpar,” or “Words of Love to Set Sail,” which included contemporary issues, editorials, future objectives and goals, prose, artwork and photographs by the girls. The participants learned the fundamentals behind creating a piece of literary work and the important steps of peer revision, and they increased their writing abilities. They also gained knowledge of the cultural and gender intolerances that their societies still face and ways in which they can combat them.

“From there, we got such positive feedback from the participants and the community that we decided to reach more students and focus on a new crowd of girls,” said Masterson.

With the money from the Volpe Scholars award, Masterson and Samuels led a five-week program for middle school girls at West Frederick and Monocacy middle schools that culminated in a published newspaper, called “Writing the Wrong: La Ilumninación,” or “Writing the Wrong: Enlightenment.” The students learned about current events and issues that have an impact on their daily lives, and they learned journalism skills including writing development and editing. They were split into beat groups of global news, local news, editorial and lifestyle. The program also included two field trips: one to visit the Newseum in Washington, D.C., to put the goals of the project in perspective, and one to Hood’s campus to get exposure to the world of higher education.

“Professionally, this project has prepared us for anything,” said Samuels. “We have learned to juggle the unexpected and are able to adjust a syllabus, our schedule or even our mentality to a completely new situation. We have now worked with around 20 students and have been introduced to so many different backgrounds, stories and abilities and have learned how to work with each one as an individual and cater to their needs.”

Through this program, Masterson and Samuels have learned a lot from their students and have become even more motivated to continue their service.

“Both of our academic backgrounds have provided us with the tools to communicate with the girls in both English and Spanish,” said Masterson. “More than that, we have been able to connect with these girls in a way unlike any other and have learned lessons from the students. We have shared our values, aspirations and goals with them and have increased their confidence in themselves and their writing. These girls have taught us how lucky we are and that we have so many opportunities that others do not possess. They have humbled us and inspired us to be better and do more outside of our own personal wants and needs.”

Masterson and Samuels are now trying to establish Writing the Wrong as a nonprofit and find new leaders to carry on the programs. They also hope to start several initiatives focused on education, women’s empowerment and leadership to help past and future members of their program pursue education or projects.

For more information on Writing the Wrong and to see online versions of the program publications, visit

Pictured above: Masterson and Samuels with their students at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

Alex Janrnot

Senior Alex Jarnot Completes NASA Internship

Alexander Jarnot is a senior chemistry major who participated in NASA’s Student Airborne Research Program (SARP) during the summer. He spent eight weeks in California learning about atmospheric science.

According to the program’s website, students get hands-on research experience in all aspects of a major scientific campaign, from detailed planning on how to achieve mission objectives to formal presentation of results and conclusions to peers and others.

“I applied for this internship because I am interested in working for an agency like NASA for my future career, and by interning for one, I knew it would grow my network and give me access to recommendation letters that would be valuable when I went to find a job and apply to graduate school,” Jarnot said.

The internship included flying in the NASA DC-8 research plane, riding in the chase car during an ER-2 research plane takeoff, tours of NASA laboratories, lectures from prominent scientists and the opportunity to work with top scientists in airborne research.

The NASA DC-8 research plane trip was a six-hour flight through the San Joaquin Valley. The plane flew at about 1,000 feet most of the time but reached a maximum altitude of 40,000 feet during an air column spiral. To prepare for the flight, Jarnot and his colleagues took a tour of the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center hangar and underwent a flight safety briefing where a variety of safety equipment was demonstrated.

“During the flight, my research partner and I collected air samples using the Whole Air Sampler, which uses a bellows pump to suck air in from outside the plane and into vacuum canisters stored on the plane,” Jarnot said. “These canisters were then transported to the Rowland-Blake lab at University of California, Irvine where my research group and I analyzed them for 99 trace gases using a wide array of gas chromatography instruments.”

Jarnot also took tours of NASA laboratories such as the Dryden Flight Research Center, the Palomar Observatory and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as well as universities such as the California Institute of Technology and the University of California, Irvine. Some prominent scientists he heard speak were Mike Brown, the man who “killed” Pluto, and Kirsten Siebach who works with the Mars Curiosity Rover.

In addition to this, he had the experience of meeting some of the top airborne research scientists, including Bruce Doddridge, Barry Lefer and Jim Crawford of NASA Langley; Emily Schaller of the National Suborbital Education Research Center; Don Blake from the University of California, Irvine; Sally Pusede from the University of Virginia; Dar Roberts from the University of California, Santa Barbara; Raphael Kudela of the University of California, Santa Cruz; Randy Albertson, deputy director of the NASA Airborne Science Program; and Henry Fuelberg from Florida State University.

“I had the pleasure of getting to know these people as professionals, as well as in casual settings,” Jarnot said. “I also had the pleasure of meeting 31 other brilliant students from all over the United States and getting to know each and every one of them.”

Jarnot credited his Hood College academics and the career center for preparing him for this internship.

“I could not have gotten into this internship without the education and experience I have received at Hood,” Jarnot said. “I utilized my chemistry background from my courses and prior internship here at Hood in order to complete my research project at SARP. I also called upon my math education from Hood in order to analyze and organize the raw data from the canister samples in order to discover meaningful results.”

Jarnot said he used the skills he learned from the career center to more effectively network with the scientists and NASA management that he met at SARP, and he has already sent his résumé to a hiring manager from General Atomics who he met during the internship.

To view a video of Alex Jarnot presenting research findings during the program, visit

Pictured above: Alex Jarnot with a member of his research group, Julia Black of Scripps College, during the DC-8 flight

Dinking Ceremony

Opening Convocation 2016

Hood College marked the start of its 124th academic year with its annual Convocation ceremony Monday morning in the Hodson Outdoor Theater on campus.

The morning began with the traditional dinking ceremony during which the incoming class received their dinks, blue for their class color. The students and faculty then processed into the Hodson Outdoor Theater.

Bill Brown, vice president for enrollment management, introduced the incoming class to the campus community; President Andrea E. Chapdelaine, Ph.D., and Logan Samuels, president of the Student Government Association, welcomed new and returning students to campus; Debbie Ricker, Ph.D., new provost and vice president for academic affairs, recognized outstanding student achievements; Karen Hoffman, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy and chair of the department of philosophy and religious studies, delivered the keynote address; and Joy Miller Beveridge ’82 shared greetings from alumni and her fond memories of her time as a student.

Hoffman told the students: “My hope is not just that you look back on today as the start of an exciting new academic year, but that you look back on all your college years as the start of a life-long love of learning, a passionate engagement with the world and the beings that inhabit it, a compassionate commitment to improving the lives of others, and a deeper understanding of who you are, who you want to become and how you can make a difference.”

This year’s group of new students includes 221 new first-year students and 103 new transfer students. Members of the Class of 2020 come from 15 states, the District of Columbia and three foreign countries. There are 259 new graduate students. Hood’s total student population is 2,106.

The graduate school will begin two new programs this fall, a Master of Science in bioinformatics and a doctoral program that includes a Doctorate of Organizational Leadership and a Doctorate of Business Administration.

“Students, you are the focus of everything we do at Hood,” President Chapdelaine said. “You are our raison d’être—our reason for being. We are all committed to helping you not only to succeed, but to exceed: to discover and realize capacities, goals and dreams you may not yet even yet know you have.”

During the summer, first-year students read Paige Rawl’s book “Positive: A Memoir” for small-group discussions about the themes, issues and conflicts raised in the book. Specially trained Hood faculty, staff and students co-facilitate these discussions. Rawl was born HIV-positive, and her book discusses the bullying she received throughout her childhood because of that diagnosis and how she overcame that bullying. Rawl will visit campus Oct. 19 for a public lecture and book signing.

Samuels reflected on the book and told students to remember: “You have the power to make a difference. There is always someone cheering you on. You have nothing to hide or be ashamed of. If you come across a new challenge, do not give up, but instead, vow to learn more. You’ve got a lot of light within you.”

For photos from Convocation, visit

The Thanh Xuan Peace Village is one of 11 peace villages in Vietnam, which are home to many children afflicted by Agent Orange.
Nguyen with some of the children at the Thanh Xuan Peace Village.
Nguyen with a group of volunteers.
Nguyen holds hands with two children on a field trip to the Ho Chi Minh museum.
More than 130 lbs of fiber threads were purchased for sewing and weaving to improve the childrens' mechanical skills.
By the end of the program, each of the children had completed a booklet about themselves, which Nguyen brought back to the U.S. to share with the community.

Le Nguyen ’17, who earned a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant, was in her home country of Vietnam this summer working with victims of Agent Orange.

The initiative was part of the Davis United World College Scholars Program that provides grants each summer for students to complete a project that advances or develops peaceful initiatives throughout the world. Nguyen’s “Foundation of Hope” project was geared toward helping children with developmental disabilities caused by Agent Orange, a chemical that was used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam conflict to defoliate forests, which is still having detrimental effects on people there.

An estimated 19 million gallons of the chemical were sprayed aerially between 1961 and 1972 over forests and crops that provided cover and food for North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops. The U.S. at the time was unaware that the chemical would be found to be the cause of serious health problems, including cancer, birth defects, tumors and psychological symptoms to the Vietnamese population and U.S. troops who were exposed.

Nguyen and other volunteers went to the Thanh Xuan Peace Village in Hanoi, Vietnam, which is home to many children afflicted by the chemical, to spend time with and help children who have been affected. The four-week project Nguyen designed ran from late May to late June and included educational lessons, field trips, crafts and other activities. The three main objectives of the project were to improve the childrens’ education, show love and support to the victims and promote awareness about Agent Orange in the Vietnamese and U.S. communities.

“It was very difficult to interact with the children as all of them have severe mental disabilities and some have physical disabilities that prohibit them from moving around as easily as others,” she said. “It was one of the greatest challenges I have ever faced.”

Initially, Nguyen had planned to use part of the grant to purchase 10 computers for the village so that they could have better access to educational tools and information. She instead bought air conditioners, televisions and fiber threads as she learned that those things were most essential to the village. Now, the children there will be able to attend school even during the extremely hot and humid summer months, and televisions will be used as display tools in classrooms. The children in the village are also taught to weave and sew, and Nguyen’s purchase will provide them with the necessary materials for a long time.

“I have grown as a leader and as a person thanks to this project,” Nguyen said. “It has changed my life in so many different ways, and it will always be a big achievement that I will never forget.” She added: “Despite all of the temporary stress and anxiety that I faced, I would do it all over again, and I would work even harder because I realized that I would do almost anything to see those children happy.”

Ten of the 18 volunteers who Nguyen worked with over the summer are staying in Hanoi and will continue to visit the children at the peace village. She appointed three leaders to guide the group and to recruit more volunteers. They’ve already recruited 30 more, for a total of 40 volunteers. Next summer, Nguyen plans to make adjustments to the project and carry it out again with the funding and support of the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek.

“After next summer, I am hoping that the group will grow bigger and stronger and the volunteers will take initiative in fundraising to keep the project alive as I can only help as much as I can from the other side of the planet,” she said.

Nguyen is majoring in business administration with a concentration in marketing and minors in web development and economics. She plans to share more about her experience in a presentation to the campus community—details will be available soon. Learn more about Nguyen and her Foundation of Hope project at

Culler Lake Rendering

Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies Helps Restore Culler Lake

The Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies at Hood College has partnered with Friends of Baker Park to help plan a complete renovation of Culler Lake in Baker Park.

According to Peter Brehm, president of Friends of Baker Park and a services and support specialist in the Hood College Office of Information Technology, Culler Lake was constructed in the late 1930s and is a de facto storm water containment pond. Due to budget restrictions, it has not been properly maintained since at least 1980. As a result, more than 1,000 dump trucks of silt accumulated in the lake, deteriorating water quality and the lake’s aquatic environment. In addition, the lake’s central fountain was crumbling along with the lake’s retaining wall on its eastern edge.

The renovation project includes building three gravel wetlands to remove excess nutrients from the water and allow sediment to settle, two of which will include boardwalks to allow lake visitors to see storm water mitigation at work; rebuilding the central fountain and the eastern retaining wall; and installing an upstream hydrodynamic separator that uses centripetal force to remove solids and sediment from storm water flowing into the lake.

The project will be completed in two phases. Phase I, improving the quality of the water in the lake, is currently underway and involves draining, dredging and re-contouring the lake to include a shelf around the lake’s edge that will be planted with native aquatic plants. The shelf, required by state law, creates a shallow area along the lake edge to help prevent people from drowning if they fall into the lake. Also, the gravel wetlands will be installed with plants to help remove excess nutrients and allow sediment to settle out of the water. Water flows into the lake through the wetlands. Because of the pervious rock walls surrounding the wetlands, the water becomes calmer, allowing sediment to settle out into the gravel bottom of the wetlands. In parallel, plants in the wetlands also act to soak up and remove excess phosphorous and nitrogen nutrients.

Phase II focuses on the lake’s educational, recreational, and transportation components. Explanatory signage will be added, and there will be lighting and possibly a boardwalk added on the lake’s northern edge plus a lake pavilion on the lake’s western edge. The mixed-use path along the south side of Culler Lake that eventually connects the western and eastern edges of Frederick City will also be widened and rebuilt, connecting to a new entrance plaza to be built at the West College Terrace entrance.

Drew Ferrier, director of the Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies, said the center has been involved with this project since 2014 when members of the center started collecting data and analyzing water quality. The center will also be raising native fish to stock the lake and is giving advice and support on the project. In addition, experts from the center are helping to determine which plants to put in the lake and providing GIS mapping for the lake’s entrance plaza design. The center will continue monitoring Culler Lake water quality after construction is complete.

Hood College has been installing tools to comply with best management practices on campus that will be instrumental to the success of the Culler Lake Renaissance. The most recent addition is the rain garden constructed at the base of the Whitaker Campus Center parking lot. About half of Hood College drains into Culler Lake. The infrastructure that Hood has installed holds back water from immediately entering storm sewers, resulting in a decrease in sediment, solids and nutrient-filled run off entering the lake. This will decrease the sediment and nutrient burden that the lake will need to accommodate, ultimately leading to a healthier lake water environment.

The lake restoration project was made possible with funds from several grants and donations: $2.1 million from the City of Frederick, $300,000 in state bond funds, more than $100,000 from individual donors, approximately $75,000 from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and contributions from the Community Foundation of Frederick County, Delaplaine Foundation Inc., the Baker Foundation and several Frederick garden clubs. Members of the Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies also collaborated with Friends of Baker Park in writing the grant proposals for the Chesapeake Trust and state bond funds.

Pictured above: an original rendering of the completed Culler Lake project.

CareFirst Check Presentation

CareFirst Grants $50,000 to Hood Nursing

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing health benefit services to customers across the Maryland region, granted Hood College $50,000 recently for the advancement of the College’s quickly growing nursing program.

During a check presentation July 6, approximately 30 people gathered in the nursing wing of Hood’s Hodson Science and Technology Center to hear remarks from representatives of Hood College, CareFirst, the State of Maryland and the City of Frederick.

The speakers included Phil Berkheimer, chair of the Hood College Board of Trustees; Andrea Chapdelaine, president of Hood; Carol Snapp, director of Hood’s nursing program; Suzie Smith, director of academic, corporate and foundation relations at Hood; Julie Wagner, vice president for community affairs at CareFirst; Ron Young, Maryland State Senator; Karen Lewis, Maryland State Delegate; and Bud Otis, president of the Frederick County City Council.

“Hood College is deeply grateful to CareFirst for their generous support of our nursing program,” said Chapdelaine. “This grant will greatly enhance our students’ education by providing access to state-of-the-art simulation equipment.”

A portion of the grant money went to SimBaby, a new mannequin that simulates a 6-month-old baby and will be used by nursing students in their pediatric rotation. With this addition, the nursing department now has eight simulation mannequins.

“It’s so much better for nurses to get real experience in a sim lab,” said Wagner. “We really believe in what Hood is doing here in the nursing department.”

Since 2008, CareFirst has invested more than $1 million in educational tools, including patient simulators, which assist clinical teaching and offer an innovative approach to nursing education.

The nursing programs at Hood are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and approved by the Maryland Board of Nursing and the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

In the photo, from left, are: Bud Otis, president of Frederick County Council; Phil Berkheimer, chair of the Hood College Board of Trustees; Delegate Karen Lewis Young; Andrea Chapdelaine, Ph.D., president of Hood College; Julie Wagner, vice president for community affairs at CareFirst; Carol Snapp, Hood College Hodson Professor of Nursing; and Senator Ronald N. Young.

Trevor Dodman

English Professor Publishes Book on WWI Shell Shock

Trevor Dodman, associate professor of English, recently published a book about shell shock during and following World War I.

“Shell Shock, Memory, and the Novel in the Wake of World War I” explores British and American shell shock novels in the company of diverse texts from the World War I era, including medical studies, hospital records, regimental histories, trench newspapers, mass media accounts, battlefield guidebooks and physical memorial spaces.

Dodman said the book argues that World War I novels serve as an untapped source of information about shell shock, and it renews the present understanding of the condition by exploring the nexus of shell shock and practices of commemoration. Shell shock novelists testify to the tenaciousness and complexity of the disorder, write survivors into visibility and articulate the immediacy of wounds that remain to be seen. It aims to help readers understand more fully the extent to which shell shock continues to shape and trouble modern memories of World War I.

Dodman teaches Hood College courses exploring British literature of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. His additional teaching areas of interest include transatlantic modernism, the novel, war literature, genocide studies and composition.

“I am drawn to new historicist and cultural studies methodologies, as well as critical theorizing about the development and circulation of gender, race and class constructions,” he said. “In published articles I explore issues related to trauma, violence, masculinity and collective memory.”

Before arriving at Hood College in the fall 2009, he taught for two years in the English department at Wake Forest University. He also taught ESL in Japan for a year and a half, and he earned his doctorate from Boston College.

Watch a video interview with Dodman below.

Enactus at Nationals

Enactus Wins National Recognition

A team of Hood College student entrepreneurs who want to help the community has won a national award for its work creating a piece of clothing designed to help homeless people.

Hood’s Enactus club presented its Backet project at the Enactus national exposition May 15-17 in St. Louis, Mo. Of the 600-plus Enactus teams nationwide able to compete at the regional level and the 140 that advanced to the national stage, the Hood team placed third in its six-school league. Their performance, which placed them among the top 10 percent of all competing schools, earned them $750 and a trophy.

Enactus is a global organization of student, academic and business leaders that draws its name from the words “entrepreneurial,” “action” and “us.” It is an international nonprofit dedicated to inspiring students to improve the world through entrepreneurial action, creating a better world for everyone.

Hood’s team has 17 members, 11 of whom attended the national exposition. These included newly graduated seniors Connor Asman, Ana Filipovic, Scott Johnson, Haroon Pasha and Ivana Soce. Rowela Silvestre, a Hood Master of Business Administration student, also attended along with underclassmen Enactus 2016-17 President Joe Hutchins, Nigol Keurkunian, Gray Kline, Kyle Shields and Alexandra Smith. The group was led by David Gurzick, Ph.D., assistant professor of management and Sam Walton Fellow, a designation Enactus gives to faculty advisers. Several of those students landed interviews with companies including Hershey, RiteAid, Ferrero and Synchrony Financial.

Pasha oversaw the Enactus team through first phase of the project, which was research and development. He will continue working with the team throughout the summer to carry out the current phase, acquiring donations and creating employment opportunities through production of the Backet. This phase has already begun as the group has acquired $10,000 for the production of 50 Backets. The money was secured through a $5,000 Volpe Scholar award, a $4,000 contribution from trustee Robert Hooper and a $1,000 prize from Walmart from the regional competition. The group competed for and won a Volpe Scholar award due in part to their demonstrated passion for the Backet product and for the benefit it will provide for the underserved population in the Frederick community and beyond. They presented a committed plan that embodies the College’s mission—to prepare students for lives of leadership, service and responsibility.

Hooper learned about the project when they presented it at his Rotary club meeting and felt compelled to help fund the team.

“I was so impressed with the fact that they could combine a social need with an entrepreneurial spirit and make business out of it—that’s a pretty great combination,” said Hooper. “That’s what spurred me on.”

The Backet is a cross-functional piece of apparel that combines a backpack and a winter jacket that is designed to assist the homeless population. Gurzick said it is intended to combat the two most pressing needs of homeless people—the need to keep ownership and proximity over their belongings and the need to adapt to varying weather conditions.

Along with the Backet design, the Hood team debuted an innovative work program designed to employ homeless people to create the product and acquire job skills.

“Presenting at Enactus nationals was an incredible experience,” said Asman, the group’s presentation director. “All of the late nights rewriting the script and coaching presenters really paid off when we got to show the judges what our small team from Hood College made to help the Frederick community.”

The presentation team included Asman, Filipovic, Keurkunian and Pasha. Hutchins wore the Backet in the live demo at nationals, and Shields did the same at regionals. Smith took care of the technical work with help from Hood students Bonnie Monnier and Sean Murphy.

“Our students crafted their presentation based on their review of award-winning presentations of year’s past, and it resulted in one of the most polished efforts of the exposition,” said Gurzick. “They called our league and then up popped the Hood shield. It took me a few moments to catch my breath before heading with the group up to the stage.”

Almost a year of preparation culminated in recognition at the national level.

“We were heading home with an award and prize money for our efforts,” said Pasha, the Backet project manager. “Most importantly we were proud to represent Hood College in the best possible way at an elite competition.”

The group began its trip to St. Louis just hours after Hood’s Commencement ceremonies May 14.

“Traveling to St. Louis was an emotional journey, as I recollected the whole experience and how each team member had come on to the project,” said Pasha. “I kept feeling increasingly thankful to all the people involved. The passion that each team member had shown to further this project is something very special. At the end of the day, we are professionals trying to excel in our lives, but this project has brought us together for common good, to serve the people in our community.”

The Backet originated when Pasha went on a pilgrimage during which he experienced homelessness. He said it inspired him to take action and develop a product to help and empower the homeless community through Enactus.

After the summer Nathan Temple will be taking over as project manager, Rodrigo Romo will be the new business and financial director, Shields will be the new development team leader, Silvestre will continue on the project as a research analyst and Smith will be advancing into the role of director of media and communications.

“This experience has helped me understand that when someone is passionate and consistent with something, the sky is the limit,” said Pasha. “The most inspiring aspect of the project was to see how a dream can turn into reality. … I have realized that ideas are great, but action is the most important thing. The team that I worked with was a blessing, and if I were to be privileged to work with a team of the same caliber in my life, I know that it would be something really special.”

Organizations outside the College assisted the project. The Religious Coalition for Human Needs, the Alan P. Linton Jr. Emergency Shelter, 2nd Street and Hope and the Frederick Community Action Agency are nonprofits that helped the team. Also, Hood alumna Tracy McGuirk ’82, owner of Tracy Lin Creations, was the seamstress for the project and helped the Enactus group create the Backet.

In the photo:
Front row from left: Alex Smith, Rowela Silvestre, Ana Filipovic, Connor Asman, Scott Johnson, David Gurzick
Back row from left: Ivana Soce, Nigol Keurkunian, Gray Kline, Kyle Shields, Joe Hutchins, Haroon Pasha

To read about the Hood Enactus club’s trip to the regional competition, click here.

View the Enactus presentation below: