Skip to main content

NC State Graduate Assistants Win NAFSA TLS Case Study Competition

NC State wins big at 2020 NAFSA Region VII annual conference! In addition to Kory M. Saunders winning the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in International Education Award, two NC State graduate students also competed in and won the NAFSA Case Study Competition. 

Mariah Henderson and Samantha Sillaman are currently pursuing their Master’s in Higher Education Administration from the College of Education and plan to graduate in May 2021. Both were first-time competitors. 

Mariah Henderson

“I heard about the case study competition last year when a friend of mine won the 2019 Competition,” says Henderson. “I thought that participating would be a great way to get involved in NAFSA, and also a great opportunity to be exposed to different issues in international education that I might not have encountered in my current role as a GA in the Office of Global Programs in the Poole College of Management.” 

Similarly, Sillaman noted that “I have been interested in taking my student affairs career down an international education geared path. Though I haven’t worked directly in ISSS or study abroad in a grad assistantship capacity, I have tried to be intentional about finding as many opportunities as possible to increase my knowledge on international education, better positioning myself for a job search in the field upon graduating,” says Sillaman. “When Mariah asked if I’d like to be her teammate for the case study competition, I jumped at the chance to practice solving real-world international education problems.” 

The Competition

Six teams and a total of 11 participants competed. Teams were given a description of a crisis situation in international education. They received their case study a week prior to the final presentation which includes an 8-10 minute presentation of their strategic plan. Any visual aids such as PowerPoint presentations were not permitted. 

Samantha Sillaman
Samantha Sillaman

To prepare for this, Henderson and Sillaman got together to brainstorm solutions and create their strategic plan. They were also assigned a mentor who provided guidance and feedback on their proposal.

Henderson and Sillaman’s case study was about a hypothetical university that had a variety of issues related to internationalization. Their strategic plan had to address those issues while also accounting for the needs of various university stakeholders. In their proposal, the team identified four main areas for improvement. (1) creating a welcoming environment for international students, (2) increasing the international population, (3) diversifying the study abroad student body, and (4) expanding the number of students going abroad for a semester or longer. 

Henderson and Sillaman also outlined numerous tactics to implement their goals such as targeted marketing campaigns, a partnership with a local German auto factory, strengthened exchange partnerships, and diversity initiatives for students and faculty.