Posted by Paul Baker on March 29, 2017
The Aurora University chapter of the American Marketing Association (AU/AMA) was named International Collegiate Chapter of the Year at the AMA’s 2017 International Collegiate Conference earlier this month in New Orleans.
Some 1,500 students and faculty from more than 200 universities converged on the Big Easy for three days of professional development, competition, and networking with peers, industry professionals and potential employers.
In addition to winning overall international honors, several AU/AMA students won individual accolades at the conference.
Junior Caitlin DeRuiter, a marketing major from St. Clair, Michigan, and AU/AMA’s president-elect, took home a $5,000 scholarship as the winner of the 2017 EBSCO Marketing Scholar Award. Senior Bradley Kigyos received an honorable mention in the Sales Student of the Year competition. The Aurora native is the chapter’s vice-president of professional selling and is majoring in psychology. Chapter president Kelly Hauge, a senior from Oswego majoring in business administration and marketing, was selected as the 2017 AMA Student Marketer of the Year.
“It’s a great achievement for everyone involved,” said Hauge. “I am most proud of the fact that this was a team effort. It would never have happened without everyone working together.”
This is the first time since its creation in 2009 that the 85-member strong AU/AMA chapter has been recognized as the nation’s No. 1 chapter. AU/AMA placed among the top five chapters internationally the last two years. The AMA, the world’s largest professional marketing organization, has 370 collegiate chapters and more than 11,000 student members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Top competitors this year included the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Penn State University, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Temple University and British Columbia Institute of Technology.
Chapters are judged on their yearly activities in areas such as professional development, community and social impact, and communications as presented in a chapter annual report.
The AU/AMA chapter also won recognition for its website, chapter communications and a public service video produced for Kane County Animal Control. AU’s Jane Davis, chair of the biology department and KCAC’s deputy director, helped make the video possible, according to senior marketing and communication major Kyle Friedrich, AU/AMA’s vice president of media production.
Ten AU/AMA chapter members joined their longtime faculty advisor, marketing professor Brian Vander Schee, at the event.
“Dr. Vander Schee is the reason that our chapter has been able to compete so effectively with the larger state schools,” Hauge said. “His dedication is really the backbone of our success.”
According to Hauge, AU students who participate with the AU/AMA chapter benefit from its relatively small size, which allows more opportunity for students to get to know each other better, hone skills and participate together on projects and competitions.
“For me, one of the most valuable aspects of being a part of AMA is that it constantly pulls me out of my comfort zone,” said Kigyos. “The sales competitions are as close to real-world situations as you can get. You are competing at a high level with people who know what they are doing.”
Connecting with potential employees is another big benefit, said Kigyos, who landed an internship with Liberty Mutual as a student last summer. “I’ll be starting full time with them in May, and it’s all because of the opportunities I had through AMA.”
Hauge would agree. “AMA has provided me with endless opportunities to network with students and also with potential employees,” she said.
In February she landed a job as a marketing administrator with SPEC Engineering of Plainfield, a full-service process engineering firm that provides the latest in technology to the food, beverage and chemical industries. She begins full time in May.
“I’m excited to learn all about a new industry and put my marketing skills to the test,” she said.
AU/AMA’s stellar showing at this year’s national conference will have other lasting benefits, as well, said DeRuiter, the chapter’s president-elect.
“I see a lot of great things happening for the chapter, especially in the area of recruiting. People want to be part of the best,” she said. “I think students who may have never given AMA a second thought – computer science majors, communication majors, psychology majors – will want to join the group. There’s a little marketing in everything you do, regardless of what you’re studying.”
DeRuiter also noted that Aurora University’s increased name recognition in the marketing realm may help fuel attendance at the university’s own annual AMA Collegiate Conference.
Held in October, the conference has already become something of a highlight among undergraduate and graduate students regionally. Last year, almost 200 students from 18 schools in nine states crowded into Crimi Auditorium for the one-day series of breakout sessions, professional panels and competitions, and also to hear keynote speaker Adam Kempenaar, senior director of new media and creative services for the Chicago Blackhawks.
For more information about AU/AMA, please visit auama.org.