From Students to Experts: MSUM Students Present at Prestigious Conference

Minnesota State University Moorhead students Kseniia Gaidamukha and Brenda Correa-Mendez broke tradition by being the only student presenters at the prestigious 2023 ACUI/NIRSA Collegiate Marketing Institute, a professional conference for the advancement of recreation, sport, and wellness. Typically, students do not present at this conference. Yet, with the support and advocacy of Sam Rios, their supervisor and mentor at the campus Wellness Center, they presented on marketing to Gen Z to hundreds of college wellness professionals.

Sam, MSUM’s Assistant Director of Wellness: Programming and Facility Operations, saw Brenda and Kseniia's leadership and commitment grow as they worked their way up from staff to supervisors at the Wellness Center.

Kseniia, a junior majoring in international business, marketing, and business analytics, and Brenda, a senior communications studies major, were especially interested in marketing. That prompted Sam to pitch the idea of all three attending the Institute, and she enthusiastically applied for them to be presenters.

“I wanted them to network and add to their resumes that they presented at a professional conference. It shows that they’re experts in that field, giving them a leg up when they apply for jobs,” Sam said.

“Sam supports all of our ideas. Even if they’re unrealistic, she’ll try to make it work somehow. Working with her on this was definitely a highlight. Sam’s experience and advice was so helpful,” Kseniia said.

Brenda and Kseniia completed a 60-minute presentation on how to market specifically to Gen Z, those born between the late 1990s and late 2000s. Marketing strategies vary between generations and age groups, and often, what works for one age group may not work for another. As individuals who belong to Gen Z, Brenda and Kseniia believed they were qualified to speak on the topic.

“We were there to help others realize that if you want to bring in students, you should listen to students’ opinions,” Kseniia said.

The students learned a lot from this experience and were encouraged by attendees who wanted to network with and learn from them even after their presentation. One of their takeaways on public speaking is the importance of practicing out loud and trusting your knowledge of the subject.

“Practice out loud at home. Knowing what an idea sounds like verbally helps a lot,” Brenda said.

“If something goes wrong, improvise; you know what you’re talking about,” Kseniia said.

Thanks to Sam's support and initiative, presenting at this marketing conference left a lasting impact on the students.

“Brenda and Kseniia are incredibly hard workers. I’m really impressed and proud of them for all they did to make it happen. They poured their whole heart into this opportunity,” Sam said.

Communication Studies Degree

Today’s world demands professionals who can communicate clearly and work effectively with others. At MSU Moorhead, you'll learn to perfect these skills for success in interpersonal, group and team communication.

Learn more about Communication Studies

More Stories from Dragons

View All Dragon Stories