VIU Students Win Major National Award For Work on MBA Games
Contribution to global citizenship, large fundraising effort for Moose Hide Campaign recognized
The desire to win combined with the desire to change lives turned out to be a magic combination for four Vancouver Island University (VIU) MBA students, who recently won the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) Elizabeth Paterson Award for positive contributions to global citizenship and internationalization.
VIU MBA students Dominik Beckers of Germany, Lukas Zimmerman of Switzerland, Ufuoma Lira Muoboghare of Nigeria and Nneka Otogbolu, also of Nigeria, received the award for their work on and participation in the first-ever National MBA Games hosted on the West Coast. While Beckers, Zimmerman and Muoboghare were on the organizing committee for the national event, which brought 600 MBA candidates, professors and dignitaries from 19 Canadian universities to Nanaimo last January, Otogbolu led the winning team.
The VIU-hosted Games set a fundraising record, collecting a $300,000 in donations to support the anti-violence Moose Hide campaign, which is a grassroots movement of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men who stand against violence towards women and children.
While the games are becoming a fond memory now, the award recognizing those monumental efforts remind the winners of what they accomplished and learned.
“The amount of work these students put into this event can’t be understated,” said Dr. Suzanne Flannigan, Dean of the Faculty of Management. “The CBIE gives very few awards. This is significant national recognition as CBIE are drawing on students from across Canada – this is an important kudos for the students in recognition of their hard work.”
VIU’s international MBA program is robust, drawing students from more than 40 countries around the world, annually.
“The organizing committee was made up of MBA candidates from all over the world, so it really did embody the concept of global citizenship and working together in a respectful way that acknowledges all cultures,” said Beckers. “It worked because everyone knew it simply had to. Because of the common goal, we could put differences aside when they arose to get the job done.”
Beckers and the team had lofty goals. It wasn’t just about hosting a good event – they wanted everyone to get something positive out of their experience, and make a positive impact on the world.
“It had to be reciprocal – we wanted our partners to feel they benefitted from the event and our relationship, and to do something that would help the world in some way,” he said.
Knowing there were so many international students participating in the Games, the committee decided to turn the event into a learning opportunity about Canada’s relationship and history with Indigenous people.
“I was shocked to learn about that part of Canada’s history when I arrived here, and I know many other international students are too, so we thought, ‘Let’s build awareness and make a difference,’” he said.
Otogbolu experienced the same shock when she arrived here, so fundraising for the Moose Hide Campaign felt right.
“Competing at VIU, and raising so much money for such an important initiative was very meaningful,” she said. “It also brought the concepts of internationalization and Indigenous rights together so beautifully.”
They made a difference. Along with the large fundraiser, the Games participants made a major impact on raising the profile of the Moose Hide Campaign.
“The perception of our success seemed to be that our team came out of nowhere, however this is not the case,” Flannigan said. “Oftentimes, we have had teams place in the top four in many of the elements. This is just the first time it has all come together for the overall win, so for our faculty it was not unexpected. The win and the CBIE award are significant for the Faculty of Management because it shows our program, our instructors and our students are punching above their weight for the size of the institution.”
Before Otogbolu came to VIU, she had only worked with other Nigerians, and intended to get her degree and go back to Nigeria. She had not considered how the world might open up to her when she arrived here. She had no idea she would be part of the team that won the National MBA games, and then such an important national award.
“I just came with an open heart, and participated,” she said. She is now in the midst of training VIU’s MBA team for the BC MBA Games, coming up October 20 – 22 at Thompson River University in Kamloops. “I tell my team, ‘Come and learn, but still make your mark.’”
For her, that’s what the CBIE award represents. “The lesson from this is that you can make a positive impact anywhere you live. You can make a difference in your community by being involved and you never know the wonderful places it will take you.”
As for the upcoming Games: “We’re going to win and retrieve our trophy,” she said. “That’s why we’re working hard to win the BC MBA Games this year.”
VIU is ensuring that students who are able to attend will be in Halifax, Nova Scotia for the conference.
“I think they have a really valuable perspective to add – they will hear a lot of dialogue at the conference and they have their own experience to contribute to that dialogue. The conference setting will also be a confidence builder for them, bringing into focus the value of their experience and reinforcing why international education is so important,” Flannigan said.
Learn more about VIU’s Graduate programs here.
Aly Winks, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University
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