UND's Kate Menzies wins top honor at national conference, while juggling academics, work
As they called Kate Menzies on stage as one of the top 10 finalists at the Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) National Leadership Conference, before an estimated crowd of more than 2,000 people, she was ecstatic.
A top 10 finish is an accomplishment in itself. She never dreamed she would get first place, even when it came down to just her and one other contestant.
But that's what happened.
"I was just thankful that I got called up on the stage as a finalist ― and that I didn't place dead last," said the ever-modest Menzies.
Menzies, a native of Cavalier, N.D., who is majoring in marketing and minoring in communication, recently returned from Nashville, where she took home first place in the retail management event at the conference.
Menzies joined PBL ― a business professional organization ― during her sophomore year and became president of the UND chapter her junior year. She also competed in nationals both of those years.
This year, UND hosted the PBL state conference, where chapters from around North Dakota came and competed for a top three placing in each category and a trip to nationals.
Menzies placed first in the state competition for retail management as well.
UND sent eight students to nationals and three others besides Menzies placed in the Top 10:
Andrew Leizens, Grand Forks, (who has since graduated from UND), first place in Financial Analysis and Decision Making and sixth place in Future Business Executive.Dustin Barvels, Aberdeen, S.D.; ninth place in Statistical Analysis.Alex Jacobsen, Rocklake, N.D.; fifth place in Macroeconomics.
Emily Seelen, Buckman, Minn.; Amber Girtz, Pierz, Minn.; Sierra Serhieko, Bottineau, N.D.; and Delaney Schultz, Fort Wayne, Ind.; also attended the national conference.
"Their performance demonstrates students from the UND's College of Business and Public Administration (CoBPA) are able to compete with and outperform their peers nationwide," said Cullen Goenner, UND faculty member and PBL advisor. "It is rewarding as a faculty member and organization advisor to see our students take time out of their busy summers to represent our University. It is students like these, whom are the reason I continue to be a professor."
The competitions vary depending on the category, some are presentations, and others are timed exams.
"When you are in class it seems repetitive listening to lectures and completing quizzes every week, but when you are involved in an organization, such as PBL, it broadens your perspective and allows you to put those skills to the test against the best college students in the nation," said Barvels. "So when you place in an event at nationals, or even at state, you know you have what it takes to compete in the 'real' world when searching to a job."
For her effort, Menzies won $750 and a trophy, donated by Men's Warehouse and presented by Mike Sins, the company's corporate recruiter.
"It was awesome to be able to speak with Mike Sins after he gave me my award," Menzies said. "He gave me some valuable career advice and said if I was ever looking for an internship to give him a call.
"This whole experience is confirmation that the education I've received while at UND is of high quality. The students that represent UND are all so talented and held their own against some of the top schools in the nation."
Menzies, a big fan of country music, reveled in the culture of Nashville, perhaps, giving her the extra boost she needed for the competition.
Or perhaps it was simply her talent and skill that made her successful.
"She is someone who has a great deal of determination and ability, so it doesn't surprise me that she excelled," said Goenner.
In addition to her business savvy in the classroom, Menzies also works as a campus tour guide, UND Bookstore sales associate and as a student writer in the UND Office of University & Public Affairs. This past semester she also had an internship at Simmons Flint, a marketing/advertising agency in Grand Forks.
"She's a model student ― she has immersed herself in the UND community, becoming involved in student organizations, volunteers her time in various philanthropy events, works several jobs on campus including being a campus tour guide, has served on administrative hiring committees, all the while completing her degree at UND," said Suzanne Sholes, the assistant director of admissions at UND and one of Menzies' supervisors.
Menzies also serves on CoBPA's student council, UND Tour Guide Board, is the tour guide training chairman, the tour guide social chairman and is in the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society.
Menzies will graduate in December, a semester early of her four-year mark. She hopes to find a job that will allow her to stay in the Midwest.
"There are so many opportunities to get involved at UND," said Menzies. "Coming from a smaller school, you prepare yourself to be just a number, but getting involved in organizations gives you a chance to be part of something bigger."
University & Public Affairs student writer