Taylor Building

Last semester, a student event called ELEVATE was held. This event is an Interdisciplinary Studies competition which challenges teams of students to solve a social problem through creative solutions. Last semester, the social topic was this: 

“How can students elevate their mental health by creating a culture of positivity?”

This event is managed by ELEVATE Director Caryn Esplin. Every two semesters, Esplin let’s students apply to become student directors, who create the event. For many students, being an ELEVATE director can also count as an Internship or capstone project opportunity. These students create the theme of the competition, work out the scheduling, contact the judges, create the branding and advertising, and spend the entire first semester planning the entire competition. Then, during the next semester, they hold the competition from start to finish. 

When interviewed on how ELEVATE started, Caryn Esplin shared the following: Before ELEVATE began, Esplin was an associate Dean of Interdisciplinary Studies. The Interdisciplinary Studies Office was faced with an issue: how could they help students learn the value of working with people of different fields of study? An idea was discussed of holding a competition where students would work together in groups and give presentations, sort of like a group Ted Talk. This idea was inspired by speech and debate competitions Esplin has grown up participating in. It was also inspired by a competition BYU holds, as well. So, after becoming the ELEVATE Director, Esplin has been working with students and this event for a few years now.

In less than a month, the full competition ran its course. Starting off on May 20th, with the kickoff event, students were introduced to the ELEVATE competition and this year's theme. Students were then given instructions on how to form a team (four to five students) and apply to be a part of the competition. One could say the kickoff was very effective, as twenty-three teams applied for the competition, both in person and online. 

Three weeks later on June 3rd, the 2021 ELEVATE competition was held. This was where students presented their solutions to the proposed problem. Students would go into a classroom and present before a panel of judges. Online teams competed separately from in-person teams. 

After four hours of presentations, the in-person and online panels of judges chose 4 teams in the in-person and 4 in the online competition, each to move on to the finals. Here, the finalists would give their presentations to not only the finalist judges, but also friends, family, and the rest of the university. 

Elevate finals competition photos: prizes, judges, competitors, and venue

June 10th, the ELEVATE finals were held. The final four teams presented their solutions to an awaiting crowd and panel of judges. The winning team would have the opportunity to implement their solution with help from the university. Each team member would also receive a $60 valued prize from the University Store. 

At the end of the night, the winning teams were announced. For the remote competition, first place was awarded to ‘The Five B’s of MHP’ with Sydney Christensen, Krystal Rodriguez, Belen Perry, Zhen Ning, and James Gallacci. In second place came ‘Elevate a Positive Solution’ with team members Courtney Lewis, Angela Talley, John Hosea, Abigail Christman, and Melisa Taci. 

For the In-person competition, the first place winning team was ‘Post-it-ivity’ with team members Shayna Sanders, Taylan Hall, Alizza Blackburn, Taylor Fiscal, and Logan Weaver. Second place was awarded to ‘Self Help Society’ with Katelyn Peterson, Melissa VanSlochteren, Vanessa Nakayiki, and Raymond Steven.

Sister Danae Romrell, Dean of the department of Interdisciplinary Studies, commented on the success of this semester’s competition. “We are so excited about the solutions our winning teams came up with regarding mental health and hope that some of them will be implemented on campus. We’re proud of all of the teams and the hard work and effort they put into this competition.” 

If you would like to apply to be a student director and even use it as an Internship or Capstone project for next semester, Winter of 2022, follow this link here