By Nirupama Muralidharan, Class of 2018
We had twelve hours. Twelve hours to solve the world’s problems. Well, maybe it wasn't that serious, but it definitely felt that way. Let me start from the beginning. I applied to the Simon Scholars Case Competition on a whim. I didn’t know what to expect and wasn't even sure whether I was interested in business. To this day, I distinctly remember receiving the case study and asking every business professional around me what they thought. I remember stressing about impressing the Office of Admissions, being late to the competition, making a bad first impression, and people judging me for my broken suitcase. However, in the end, none of this mattered. I found time to speak with my admissions counselor, meet the coordinators of the competition, and chat with the most sincere people. As for my broken suitcase, I could only ask for so much.
Once I met my teammates, we had twelve hours—twelve hours to develop a strategy to help Five Hole for Food, a non-profit organization in Canada, and expand their influence and reorganize their staff. Unlike other teams, we used the entire time period to finalize our strategy. Despite our fatigue, we enjoyed every second. By taking time to complete our presentation, we were able to establish our strengths and weaknesses and develop our “team dynamic.” The resulting fluidity in our presentation was quite impressive. Working on a case study and collaborating with people different from me was an extremely empowering experience, and I would recommend it to anyone (regardless of major).
In hindsight, I realize that the Simon Scholars Case Competition was extremely valuable, apart from the competition itself. I had the opportunity to meet brilliant people who started non-profit organizations and built schools for the impoverished! These students not only inspired me, but also taught me that although I thought I was “all that and a bag of chips,” I truly wasn't. My “titles” and class rank were insignificant. Despite my disappointment in myself, I was grateful that as a senior in high school, I learned an important lesson few people ever have the chance to learn. In addition, the competition was the determining factor in my decision to accept the University of Rochester’s admission offer. By spending a night on campus, I had an uncensored look into nightlife/student life. The Mario Kart matches/hummus parties on a Sunday night and the genuineness of the people here made me realize that the Rochester environment was perfect for me.
The Simon Scholars Case Competition was certainly one of the best experiences of my life. It helped me broaden my horizons and meet wonderful people (people I still talk to despite our decisions to travel in different directions). If you remember anything from this long post, please remember this: take a chance, apply, and pursue the opportunity to be “ever better.”