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SMA competes with elite

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Posted on February 22, 2010

Cal U's Student Marketing Association (SMA) hopes to remain among the world's elite as it rounds out a year of competition next month at the American Marketing Association's 32nd International Collegiate Conference in New Orleans, La.

Cal U's SMA currently is ranked ninth, ahead of local teams from Carnegie Mellon, Duquesne and Robert Morris universities, and the Katz School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh. The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania is ranked first heading into next month's conference competition.

The competition begins in August, at the start of each new academic year, and concludes at the annual conference. Students compete by developing a strategic Chapter Plan, which must be submitted in October. Each chapter then works to fulfill the plan and to compete in functional events. Results are outlined in an annual report due in March. 

The work is judged by an international panel of marketing professors, and the winners are announced at the conference.

In addition to creating the plan and annual report, chapters may take part in  a marketing simulation and sales, case study, website, recruiting video and exhibit competitions, some of which are held at the conference. Schools ranked in the top 15 are recognized as "elite."

"To attain elite status is an outstanding achievement and shows Cal U's SMA has excelled in a wide range of marketing areas," said Shirley Lazorchak, faculty adviser for SMA and Alpha Mu Alpha, the national marketing honorary for qualified undergraduate, graduate and doctoral marketing students. "We have come a long way in a short period of time."

Lazorchak came to Cal U in 2001. The following year she transformed the campus Marketing Club into SMA and applied for affiliation with the American Marketing Association. She made an investigatory trip to observe AMA marketing competitions in 2003-2004, and Cal U's SMA chapter began competing the following year.

In its first year of competition, Cal U's SMA received the 2005 Revitalized Chapter of the Year Award. In subsequent years, the association twice received awards for outstanding professional development and was honored for outstanding community service. It won the Outstanding Chapter Award last spring.

SMA president Allison Harsh said the group has helped her to prepare for a career as a marketing professional.

"In numerous interviews ... I was praised not only for holding a leadership role in a student organization, but also for all the work that the SMA does collectively, especially community service, professional development activities, and our competition in New Orleans," she said.

Harsh, who expects to graduate in May, is also a member of Alpha Mu Alpha, a separate organization also under the auspices of the AMA. Alpha Mu Alpha members must have a grade-point average of 3.25 or higher.

Lazorchak served as a judge at last year's marketing competition and this year is a nominee for the Hugh G. Wales Outstanding Faculty Adviser award.

"Both the SMA and Alpha Mu Alpha are great vehicles for enhancing the professional and personal growth of our students," she said.

"Our association continues to challenge its members by competing in more events with increasing complexity," Lazorchak added. "Our goal is to continually bring acclaim to Cal U and our marketing students, which also gives them a needed edge in today's competitive business world."