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Research and Innovation Student Success

Social Innovation Weekend brings together students from across Miami

A mix of students from across Miami spent the weekend looking for problems and solutions to them.

Group photo of participants
Research and Innovation Student Success

Social Innovation Weekend brings together students from across Miami

While many events at the Farmer School of Business are aimed squarely at Farmer School students, the John W. Altman Institute for Entrepreneurship’s Social Innovation Weekend isn’t one of them. Students from across Miami University came together last weekend to spend many hours around the theme of building and supporting thriving communities.

“Being a biology major, I joined this weekend knowing next to nothing about business or entrepreneurship. All I wanted was to meet new people, challenge myself, and learn something new,” Sophia Bick said. “I think I did just that!”

“As a non-Farmer student, I love how welcomed every major was at this event. It is clear that Dr. Conger, the mentors, judges, student helpers, and everyone else who helped make this weekend happen care immensely,” biology and premedical studies major Abby Benjamin said.

The students were assigned to one of a dozen teams on Friday night, a change from previous years when the participants chose a team to join. “We all discussed our backgrounds and interests and found multiple areas to explore for SIW that we would all be passionate about,” public health and finance major Nathan Rush said. “The differences really contributed to us creating a 'product' we could all be proud of, and because of those differences we were able to encompass a holistic approach.”

The teams worked until Sunday morning, when they made presentations in front of judges from the business, non-profit, and local communities. Four finalist teams made another presentation in the afternoon to all the judges participating.

The finalists were:

First place: It's Okay BRO
John Bartzak
Abby Benjamin
Ahmed Danquah
Ian Fisher
Second place: R.E.A.C.H
Will Teeters
Jess Holland
Grace Howard
Lucas Orlando
Third place: ALI
Evan Moody
Nathan Rush 
Shree Chaturvedi
Fourth place: Orgs To You
Jacob Pinder
Sophia Bick
Isaura Souza

“I learned so much, met so many great people, and received so much great feedback and advice,” accountancy and entrepreneurship major John Bartzak said. “I came into this weekend with an idea I was passionate about solving and an open mind, that's it. I learned how to identify a problem and dig deeper to figure out the root issue. I learned how to work with a team. I learned how to reach out and ask important questions. I learned the importance of taking breaks and how beneficial it is during a high stress and productive time. By far, the most important thing is that I learned more about the community around me and how so many of us want to make a difference.”

“Although the weekend had its moments of tiredness, stress, and frustration, it also contained loads of laughs, smiles, and pride at what we could accomplish in such a short amount of time. In the past, I never thought I could tackle something like Social Innovation Weekend,” Bick said. “However, this experience has reinforced a newly-embraced mindset of mine: You can't grow if you never step out of your comfort zone!”

“I feel I can speak for my team in saying it was a great experience, not only to further develop our skills, but also by showing us the impact we can have on the broader community or communities around us,” Rush said.

“This weekend definitely challenged me as I had to collaborate for long periods of time with people I had never met before. We quickly had to learn what each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and passions were. Finding something we were all excited about was key. Then, it took quite a while to fully understand the problem and work out a solution that was both impactful and feasible,” Benjamin said. “I often questioned whether we would be able to figure things out and produce a product that we could be proud of. The guidance from mentors made a world of difference and the access to free snacks certainly helped too! Overall, I am really proud of myself and my team. Social Innovation Weekend is a place where students are pushed to grow and world-changing ideas can be born.”

Group photo of 1st place team

Group photo of second place team

Group photo of third place team

Group photo of fourth place team