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News Release

Three Peru State students from Cozad, Auburn, Odell earn national championship at Phi Beta Lambda business competition; 10 others place in top 10

Peru State’s sixth PBL national championship in three years


Henry, Theye, Beusing
Henry, Theye, Beusing

(Peru, Neb.) Three Peru State College students recently earned first place at the Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, Calif.

PBL is a state and national business and leadership association. The competition focused on a wide range of business and leadership-related tests, including subjects ranging from financial analysis and economic concepts to human resource management and business ethics.

Peru State’s national champions in the Community Service category who presented The CHANCE (Children’s Health, Activity & Nutrition Community Engagement) Initiative include:

  • Allie Buesing, a freshman sport and exercise science major and business administration minor from Cozad.
  • Rachel Henry, a sophomore business administration/management major and sport and exercise science minor from Auburn. Henry also won fifth place in the Job Interview category. She was recently accepted into the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s prestigious Public Health Early Admissions Student Track (PHEAST) program.
  • Jamie Theye, a senior business, marketing and information technology major from Odell. Theye also won second place in the Future Business Educator category. She was honored earlier this year by the Campus Compact as a 2013 Newman Civic Fellow, an award presented to 181 student leaders from 36 states that have demonstrated a personal commitment to find solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country.

Developed by Associate Professor of Business and PBL Advisor Dr. Sheri Grotrian-Ryan and Associate Professor of Education and CHANCE Initiative Co-director Dr. Kyle Ryan, the CHANCE Initiative is a grant-funded partnership between Peru State, Auburn Public Schools, the Auburn Chamber of Commerce and Auburn Family Health Center, P.C. that involves 14 weeks of activities and educational lessons focused on healthy living. The goal of the CHANCE Initiative is to encourage healthier lifestyles among area children and their families by creating awareness and educating them about better choices. In its first year, the program engaged in an in-depth examination of the Harvard Food Plate as well as social-norms messaging and how children respond. In the program’s second year, data was collected to determine levels of physical activity among children grades four through eight. Two PSC student groups are involved in assisting with the study: Physical Education, Activity & Kinesiology Students (PEAKS) and Phi Beta Lambda.

President Dan Hanson said, “Peru State PBL has been enormously successful at nationals, earning six national championships in the past three years. I want to congratulate Allie, Rachel and Jamie on this outstanding achievement. Their leadership in the CHANCE Initiative, PBL and many other student and community organizations are inspiring examples of student and civic engagement. They are outstanding ambassadors for Peru State, and I know we will see more great things from them in the years to come.

“Providing our undergraduate students an opportunity to present their work at a national conference is one way Peru State works to create unique opportunities for student engagement while also opening doors that can benefit future careers. These national awards are a tribute to the hard work of our students, their advisors and the faculty in the School of Professional Studies.”

Associate Professor of Business and PBL Advisor Dr. Sheri Grotrian-Ryan said, “Each year our students continue to do extremely well at the national level. PBL members are fortunate to have these engaging opportunities available to them. It was clearly evident at the conclusion of this year’s conference that returning students are motivated and ready to work on qualifying again next year!”

Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, Calif
Peru State PBL chapter

Ten Peru State students placed in the top 10 at nationals in the following categories:

  • 3rd Place: Network Design – Johnathan Beal & Richard Oppitz
    • Beal is a junior computer management information systems major from Auburn.
    • Oppitz is a senior computer management information systems major from Topeka, Kan.
  • 4th Place: Future Business Educator – Mary Ellen Martin
    • Martin is a senior business and psychology major from St. Libory.
  • 5th Place: Strategic Analysis & Decision Making – Ryan Arnold, Amanda Jo Cleek & Tricia Lempka
    • Arnold is a sophomore human performance and systems management major from Bellevue.
    • Cleek is a senior business administration management and psychology major from Papillion.
    • Lempka is a senior criminal justice counseling and psychology major from Cook.
  • 7th Place: Retail Management – Shawon Nixon
    • Nixon is a senior marketing and human performance and systems management major from Lincoln.
  • 7th Place: Financial Concepts – Josh West-Lesher
    • West-Lesher is a junior accounting major from Steele City.
  • 10th Place: Website Design –Rebekha Dostal & Amy Poole
    • Pool is a junior business administration & marketing major from Ashland.
    • Dostal is a senior business administration, criminal justice counseling and psychology major from North Bend.

Additionally, Jacob Long, a junior business administration marketing major from Kansas City, Mo., & Paige Riza, a senior marketing major from Ravenna, Texas, placed in the top 15 in the Integrated Marketing Campaign competition.

Other students representing PSC at the national conference include:

  • Tairi Ferguson, a senior criminal justice administration and psychology major from Hamburg, Iowa
  • Dustin Gerdes, a sophomore computer management information systems major from Cedar Bluffs
  • Charlotte Grooms, a senior business administration management and marketing major from Auburn
  • Preston Sunneberg, a junior marketing major from Burchard
  • Alex Wessels, a sophomore business administration marketing and management major from Weeping Water

For more information, contact Grotrian-Ryan at 402-872-2420 or