Black School of Business students take on The Beast

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Talk about a beast of a group project!

This semester, students in Dr. Mary Beth Pinto’s MKTG 344 Buyer Behavior class will be acting as marketing analysts for the Barber National Institute (BNI) and the organization’s annual adventure run — The Beast on the Bay.

Fifty MKTG 344 students attended a kickoff session on January 15 in 180 Burke where they watched a video (filmed by 2013 Black School graduate, Jon Wolff, who completed the 2014 event) and learned about the Beast on the Bay from BNI’s marketing team, including Black School grad Brandon Boyd ’13, who is a communication/social media specialist at Barber National Institute.


About The Beast

The Beast actually has two heads, er, events: A 10-mile obstacle course and a 1.2-mile adapted course for adults with disabilities. (The Barber National Institute serves children and adults with intellectual disabilities and mental health challenges.)

The event, scheduled for September 12, is held on the shores of Lake Erie at Presque Isle State Park. Racers in the 10-mile event are bused to the start line at Beach 11, then they run back over sand, trails, asphalt and 25+ obstacles to the finish line at Waldameer. Near the end of the 10-mile event, racers intersect with the 1.2-mile adapted course participants and are encouraged to help them complete an obstacle or two. The interaction helps to drive home the reason behind the race.

Feeding The Beast

While the Beast is many things to the participants (fun, challenging, etc.), it is, ultimately, a fundraiser. Proceeds from the race benefit BNI and, thanks to generous and numerous sponsors, nearly the entire race fee ($60 to $100, depending on when participants sign up), goes directly to BNI.

The more participants the Beast draws, the more people BNI can help. That’s why Beast organizers have challenged the Black School of Business students with helping them feed the Beast and grow the event.

Students will work in teams to answer the following questions:

  1. How can BNI attract more participants from the 16-25 year age group?
  2. How can BNI attract more participants from outside the Erie area (Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Canada)?
  3. How can social media be used best to promote and encourage participation in the Beast on the Bay?

Several information gathering methods will be used, including personal interviews, focus groups, and surveys with past, potential, and target Beast participants.

Everyone wins

“Learning by Doing projects with corporate partners are such resume builders for students,” said Dr. Pinto, professor of marketing. “It is the perfect way to apply theory and concepts learned in the classroom and build their portfolio of experiences that will differentiate them when it comes time to meet with potential employers.”

Students will tour BNI on January 22 and have the opportunity to meet some of the special people they will be helping through their project.

Thoughts from a Beast-slayer


As a two-time Beast on the Bay participant myself (that’s my team in the video below), I’m excited that our students will be helping to make the event bigger and better than it already is. As a Marketing professional, I’m excited that our students get to learn by doing by working on a real project for a real company.

I’m also hoping the project inspires some of them to take on the Beast. I think they should definitely form a team, don’t you?!

The gauntlet has been thrown, MKTG 344!

What about you?

Are you ready to take on the Beast?

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“I have a dream…” Behrend students reflect on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

It was more than fifty years ago that these immortal words were spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

King’s vision and legacy is being celebrated this week at Penn State Behrend with a series of activities and events. Included among the events is the annual “I Am His Dream” march in which members of the Association of Black Collegians (ABC) marched on campus before engaging in a casual discussion to reflect on Dr. King’s ideals.

We caught up with some Behrend ABC members and asked them about their own dreams.

Khardiata Mbengue

Khardiata Mbengue, senior, Biology

“My dream is to have all of the work and dreams of Martin Luther King Jr. come to life. All of the ways that we’re not getting along would be solved, and there would be unity.”

Brianna Debow

Brianna Debow, sophomore, Communication

“I want to make this world be a place where everybody is equal and where racism is not alive. It’s about equality.”

Lola Soniregun

Lola Soniregun, junior, Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies

“My dream is to see equal opportunity in the workplace.”

Marcus Yuille

Marcus Yuille, senior, Political Science

“My dream is that all people would know the power they have to make a difference and make a change. And they would know they have to use that power for change to happen.”

Crystal Short

Crystal Short, sophomore, Communication

“I want to continue to better myself, so I can continue to better others. We’re all in the same boat and all need each other.”

Adedolapo Akintola

Adedolapo Akintola, junior, Biology

“The most important dream for me in regard to today’s society would be to live in a society where I can raise my son, and he doesn’t have to go outside and be scared. I want my son to be born into a society where he’s not automatically turned down for a job because his name frightens people. I’ve gone through that myself.”

Ally Johnson

Ally Johnson, sophomore, Project and Supply Chain Management and Psychology

“My dream is to be able to obtain a position where I can generate change and positivity for others.”

Timothee Paluku

Timothee Paluku, sophomore, Industrial Engineering

“My dream is to eradicate evil.”

Malcolm Mallard

Malcolm Mallard, first-year student, Chinese

“My dream is to bring awareness to everyone. I want everyone to understand that we’re all alike, but what makes us different should be cherished.”