Three education leadership students win case study competition

Dec. 1, 2021

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A team of three education leadership students, Kelly Snow, Catherine Conners, and Kyla Kenar, placed first in the NASPA Region IV-East Graduate Case Study competition that was held as part of the NASPA 2021 regional conference. All three are working on master’s degrees and are concentrating on Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA). NASPA is the professional home for the field of student affairs.

After receiving the case study, teams had six hours to analyze the case and prepare a presentation. At the end of the day they presented their analysis to a panel of judges. The case asked questions about diversity, equity, academic freedom, and first amendment rights and case analyses considered higher education law, institutional policies, and student affairs best practices. Students were scored both on their analysis and on the quality of their presentation. 

“This competition was all about coming up with a solution grounded in theory to help students struggling at university as well as help the university to become a more diverse, inclusive, and safe environment,” shared Kenar, a first year master’s student. “As I move forward into a career at a university, I want to always be working on creating a more inclusive and equitable environment for students to grow in understanding and acceptance of all cultures and ways of life.“

“Between the three of us, we had to address three separate incidents where there was racial discrimination on a campus, each building upon the last. In looking at these incidents, we had to answer several questions based on how we would address each of the students, as well as how we would address the whole campus. We also had to identify which theories we would use, defend those theories, and explain who else would be involved in the process,” explained Snow.

The judges were impressed with the thoroughness of the team’s response as well as the student-centered approach they took.

“Winning this award was very affirming for me. It showed me that I am learning how to address real issues and challenges within my field. Many of our classes have covered different theories and practices within higher education separately, and this competition was an opportunity to practice synthesizing those theories of student development and higher education into a practical course of action within my future work,” said Conners. After graduating this spring, she intends to pursue a career in academic advising. Her philosophy of advising is developmental and educational, and this casework helped her consider how to work with students to apply and teach laws, policies, and the rights and responsibilities of students.

“I feel honored that my wonderful colleagues and I have won this award. In this competition we were able to apply the theory we have focused on over the course of our programs, and it was a rewarding experience to present to the panel with confidence. I am very grateful that our advisor thought of us to participate and am very excited for our win!” shared Snow. After graduating this spring she plans to continue in student affairs.

Catherine Conners, Kylar Kenar and Kelly Snow