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Graceland University Social Media Marketing Class Competes in Principal Challenge

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Administration and Staff, Press Release

May 15, 2015

Graceland University Social Media Marketing Class Competes in Principal Challenge
The Graceland University social media marketing team from the 2015 Principal Financial Group Voice of the Young Consumer Challenge (from left to right): Shelby Murtha, Sahar Harb, Alisha Dolsen, Kiera Porter and Tessa Otto

On Thursday, April 30, a group of students from the Graceland University Social Media Marketing class, traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, to take part in a colligate marketing challenge. Along with groups of students from Iowa State University, Northern Iowa University, Drake University and the University of Iowa, GU students participated in the Principal Financial Group Voice of the Young Consumer Challenge.

Terra (Paialii) Whipple, Graceland University class of ’09, was instrumental in starting the Voice of the Young Consumer Challenge at Principal. Whipple reached out to Graceland Assistant Professor of Business Jeff McElroy in 2012 with an invitation for Graceland students to participate in the new challenge. With a brand new Social Media Marketing class, consisting of students ranging from sophomores to seniors and representing virtually all majors on campus, McElroy saw a great opportunity.

The contest, The Voice of the Young Consumer University Partnership, is an annual, semester-long project by The Principal in which students address a real business marketing challenge facing the company. The Graceland team’s presentation theme was “Life Happens … Where will you be,” focusing on various message topics important to Millennials.

According to Principal Financial Group senior management, this project is a great partnership with the universities. Principal receives great ideas and good potential employees, while the universities get a great project and training from Principal.

2015 is the third year Graceland students in the Social Media Marketing class have competed in the Voice of the Young Consumer Challenge. The Graceland presentation team this year included sophomores Shelby Murtha and Kiera Porter, and seniors Sahar Harb, Tessa Otto and Alisha Dolsen.

“What an amazing experience and opportunity for Graceland students! I am so thankful to have been a part of the competition and have learned a lot from this experience. Jeff allowed the team to be unique, and supported us until the end. I would love to follow future students as they compete and wish them the best of luck. They will definitely get as much as they give!” -Alisha M. Dolsen

This year’s competition is timely, as it will lead into a new major offered at Graceland. A new, innovative, interdisciplinary major of contemporary relevance to the students, Social Media Marketing will make its debut in Fall 2015. The demand and market for this major is growing, and there are currently no regional universities offering a professional major like this, which is tied intimately to the liberal arts and sciences mission and foundation. The Social Media Marketing major includes a unique combination of communications courses, business and marketing courses, and visual design courses designed to ready students for jobs in the real world.

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