Business Beyond Bluffton


Students exposed to MEDA’s global reach

Lessons on faith, business and service merged this year during the annual Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) conference in San Antonio, Texas. During the conference, seven Bluffton University students, including Emily Huxman ’17, a marketing and communication major from Waterloo, Ontario, learned how their majors could have a positive impact on society.

“The conference is a really good place to see what you can do with your business-related major that goes along with your faith path. A lot of people feel that if you are a business major you have to be a shark, but MEDA shows you that’s not necessarily true,” said Huxman. “There are ways to apply what you learn in your business classes to help people, especially in the underdeveloped world.”

This was Huxman’s third convention, and she has also interned for MEDA.

MEDA is an organization that aims to create business solutions to poverty and to generate economic growth for small businesses. It is comprised of members from the United States and Canada. A different location and theme is highlighted for each conference with “Women Changing the World: Business as a Calling” chosen for 2016.

For Conner Samuel ‘17, a business administration major from New Knoxville, Ohio, the theme resonated. “There was a lot of talk about how men do not always treat women the best in the business place. One presenter spoke about how clients will often direct business questions to her male business partner. She has to speak up to make a point and to let them know she is an equal partner,” said Samuel. “Maybe as a young professional, I needed to hear that so that I can make a conscious decision to include everyone in business matters in the future.”

Networking is also a key component of the experience. About 50 students from Mennonite colleges and universities across the United States and Canada attended. In addition, business leaders from across the two countries were also receptive to meeting students.

Eric Beechy ‘17, a food and nutrition major from Millersburg, Ohio, is a non-traditional student with an entrepreneurial spirit. Several family members own their own small businesses including his parents. Through networking he met Jon Geiser, an associate professor of business, who studies family succession of businesses at Goshen College.

“My father is planning on transitioning his business in the next five years, so any resources or help we can get is something we’re looking for,” said Beechy. “I also talked to Dallas Steiner of Ventrac tractors, a family business located in Dalton which is close to where I grew up. I asked him, ‘how do you have a disagreement at work and then still have Thanksgiving, politely?’”

Also traveling to the conference from Bluffton were Alyssa Eby, a junior from Harrisonburg, Va.; Jeffrey Edrington, a senior from College Corner, Ohio; Jeffery Horner, a senior from Elida, Ohio; and Irena Xhari, a junior from Albania. Dr. George Lehman, professor of business, and John Burkhart, assistant professor of accounting, rounded out the Bluffton contingent.

Several campus organizations helped fund their trip, including Pi Delta, Women’s Council and the Investment Club.