Students find solutions to high-stakes, real-world problems

Tanya Stulken MBA ’11 admits she was nervous when she learned she’d be working for a real client in her marketing research class with Professor Saroja Subrahmanyan. “There was an added element to the student performance expectation; the reputation of the team, Saint Mary’s and myself were all on the line,” Stulken recalls.

Stulken’s group worked with Holy Innocents Children’s Hospital (HICH), a nonpolitical, nonsectarian, faith-based organization dedicated to building a children’s hospital in Uganda. Their assignment was to recommend strategies for raising awareness of the organization and maintaining a sustained level of charitable support. So they investigated what motivates donors to support charitable organizations like HICH and, thus, find new ways to raise its visibility.

In the end, Stulken’s concerns about working for a real client quickly evaporated when she realized that her group was working toward a greater good and employing responsible business practices.

“I loved that we were helping a nonprofit children’s hospital. It was an idea that we could all relate and connect to on a personal level.”

It is rewarding for Stulken to see how her classwork materialized into real-life dividends. She remembers checking HICH’s website after the project concluded. Almost immediately, some of the interactive website design ideas that her group had suggested during their final presentation, like the addition of an introductory video and prominent donation buttons, were on the site.