Five members of the Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City team and their faculty adviser wait for their name to be called during the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Competition.
Heads bowed. Eyes closed. Was their presentation good enough? Was it a winning business model?
These are questions that course through their minds as they hear third place called. No win. Second place called. Still, no win. Then, after several nervous glances and what seems like an eternity of silence, the OSU-OKC Governor’s Cup team is announced as the first-place winner for the second year in a row for the Small Business Division.
Students Shane Barlow, Jennifer Bradley, Amanda Sandoval, Mayra Tello, Mario Young and faculty adviser Amber Hefner cheered as they realized their business model, X-pert Shot, was more than good. It had been great.
“When they announced our team’s name, we were in shock,” Sandoval said. “I felt like crying. One girl looked like she was going to faint. You just can’t believe it’s happening.”
X-pert Shot was a business idea created by team captain Barlow. The plan calls for a large, members-only gun range for training and recreational purposes. But Barlow said the final business model the team accomplished was far beyond his wildest dreams.
“I can’t stress enough how much work the team did to put it all together. My work seemed insignificant compared to what they did,” he said.
Working together toward a common goal was something each was determined to do. Through all of the struggles, months of hard work and scheduling conflicts, they managed to pull together, find their strengths and present a winning business model.
“It is difficult at a two-year college to meet up with everyone when the majority of us work, have families, have other lives besides living on campus,” Barlow said. “Communication was huge from the very beginning.”
Second-year Governor’s Cup participant Tello and her family moved to the United States when she was 9. She said she wanted to be the first generation to attend college.
“It meant a lot to me to go to college because I have a little sister. I want her to follow in my steps,” Tello said.
Sandoval also will be the first in her family to graduate college. In fact, she was only the second in her extended family to graduate from high school. To find the financial means to attend, she had to work two jobs and apply for grants and scholarships.
“I have scholarships and advisers that have helped me, and I appreciate that from OSU-OKC. College was one of my biggest goals in life, and I want to make my family proud,” she said.
Originally from a small town in Texas, Bradley moved to Midwest City when she was young. She started out as a nursing major, but eventually decided to take a break.
“I needed some extra time to figure out what it was I really wanted to do and how I wanted to help people,” Bradley said. While working full-time, she decided to return to OSU-OKC and major in dietetic technology.
Soon after high school, Young got married and had children. He spent nearly 15 years in retail and retail management to support his family.
“While I have a lot of experience in retail, I’ve been passed over for people who have their degree, but not necessarily the experience. I knew a degree was going to be required in order to advance.”
Barlow spent eight years in the Marines, one tour in Iraq and another in Afghanistan, and figured the military would be his place of retirement. When he realized that was not the future he desired, he decided to attend OSU-OKC because of the highly-recommended Veterans’ Services Center.
“I had my choice of colleges because of the GI Bill, but I decided to come to OSU-OKC,” he said. “The Veterans’ Services Center walked me through everything: enrollment, getting financial aid, paperwork signed, getting books, everything. The next thing I had to do was show up on the first day of class.”
Thanks to faculty adviser Amber Hefner, Business Administration Division Head Patti Ripple, accounting and economics instructor Tony Smith and the entire OSU-OKC executive team, the Governor’s Cup team was able to sharpen its skills based on feedback, which ultimately led to winning first place.
“It was a pleasure to serve as the adviser for another great team of Governor’s Cup students,” Hefner said. “Being a part of the Governor’s Cup team requires a significant time commitment from everyone involved so I was ecstatic to see the students’ time commitment rewarded with a first-place win.”
Jana Foster is with OSU-OKC Marketing and Communications.