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The Monmouth Regional Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation recently presented $500 scholarships to two students who took part in Team Challenge, an MRCC event that gives local high-schoolers hands-on experience solving real-world business problems that raise complex ethical issues. 

The winners were Katrine Birkeland from Manalapan High School and Jonna Crocker from Howell Township High School. Senator Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, surprised the foundation and the winners at the Feb. 23 awards ceremony by matching the original MRCC scholarships provided by the Vasa Foundation, thereby increasing the total award to $1,000 for each winner. 

The annual Team Challenge event was held two months prior and involved over 100 students from seven high schools. Team Challenge uses the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics framework from Santa Clara University to explore business issues with complex ethical implications. The topic of this year’s “Ethics and Business Initiative for Tomorrow’s Leaders” was an Apple vs. FBI case study. 

Prior to the competition, the MRCC brought in a guest speaker and held teacher training and student orientation programs to provide an overview of the challenge and the process. Over a period of weeks, the students then worked together in teams to show their understanding of the ethical dilemma, formulate solutions, and create presentations for a panel of judges from the business community. 

Trophies were awarded to the top three finishing teams. Marlboro High School won first place, Colts Neck High School took second place, and Howell High School finished in third place. Monmouth County Commissioner Director Thomas Arnone presented the trophies on Dec. 2 and spoke about potentially expanding Team Challenge in the future as a county-wide initiative held at Brookdale Community College for students throughout the Monmouth area. 

Hailed as a true partnership between local business and education, the Team Challenge program prepares students to effectively enter the workforce and assume leadership positions in their careers. The judges for this year’s competition were Monmouth County Commissioner Deputy Director Susan Kiley, Sharon Konvit of CentraState Healthcare Foundation, Sylvia Allen of Allen Consulting, Bill Bladel of Integrated Health & Business Solutions, Gerald Cioci of Cioci Law Firm, and Tom Principe of SalesSXess. 

Businesses and organizations from throughout the area that generously lent their support as Team Challenge sponsors include: 

  • Essay Scholarship Sponsor – Vasa Foundation 
  • Platinum Sponsor – Brookdale Community College
  • Gold Sponsors – New Jersey Natural Gas, Monmouth Medical Center/RWJ Barnabas Health
  • Silver Sponsors – CentraState Healthcare System, Allstate, Springpoint Living at Manalapan, Clayton & McGirr Funeral Home, Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, Investors Bank
  • Bronze Sponsors – Glen Eagle Advisors, Farmers Insurance, Monmouth University, Central Jersey Pools, Sunrise Optimist Club of Freehold, New Jersey City University @ Fort Monmouth, County of Monmouth.