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MCCC Students Recognized with Top Honors
At the FBLA-Phi Beta Lambda National Leadership Conference


West Windsor, N.J. - Eight students from Mercer County Community College were among 1,700 student leaders from two- and four-year schools across the country who attended the National Leadership Conference of the Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL), held in San Antonio, TX, from June 24-27. The FBLA-PBL is the nation's largest and oldest student business organization.

In addition to expanding their networks, students participated in more than 55 business and business-related competitive events. Three MCCC students - Jose Rodriguez of Trenton, Anderson Monken of Lawrenceville, and Amber Hinshaw of Hightstown - earned National Awards of Excellence at the concluding ceremony on June 27. Rodriguez placed third nationally in Business Decision-Making (team), and ninth nationally in Sports Marketing and Management, bringing his total to four national PBL awards during his two years as part of Mercer's Future Business Leaders team. Monken, who will serve as the president of Mercer's Student Government Association for the coming academic year, placed third nationally in Business Decision Making (team) and sixth nationally in Public Speaking. Hinshaw placed fourth nationally in Retail Management.

Rodriguez, who serves as MCCC's local PBL chapter president and the state chapter's membership director, notes that students who attended the national conference were all winners in competitions held at the state level. (New Jersey's annual competition is held on the MCCC campus in March.) "This was a great opportunity to practice leadership skills and network with the 'Best of the Best' from other schools," he said. He adds that the experience enhances his resume in a way that no class could. A graduate of Nottingham High School, Rodriguez will graduate in December with a degree in Business Administration, with plans to transfer to a four-year school and double major in Business Management and Political Science.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Rodriguez said, "The amount of work, energy and determination that it took to get here was well worth it. This is an experience that no other student organization can offer its members. On behalf of the entire MCCC chapter, we're honored to have had the opportunity to represent our school and community."

Students who attended the FBLA-PBL National Conference in June included, from left, Xue Ling Lee of Princeton, Timothy Hoffman of East Windsor, Anderson Monken of Lawrenceville,Jose Rodriguez of Trenton, Alex Henry of Cranbury, and Melanie Hicks of Hamilton. Not pictured: Rubina Shaikh, Amber Hinshaw and Susan Thatcher-Longo. Monken, Rodriguez and Hinshaw were award winners at the conference's competitive events.

Anderson Monken, left, and Jose Rodriguez placed third nationally in team competition in Business Decision-Making. In individual categories, Monken, who will serve as the president of Mercer's Student Government Association for the coming academic year, placed sixth nationally in Public Speaking and Rodriguez placed ninth in Sports Marketing and Management. Rodriguez serves as MCCC's local PBL chapter president and the state FBLA-PBL chapter's membership director.

Monken added, "Employers are looking for students who are doing more and delving deeper. FBLA provides experiences in how the real world works. You can take as many classes as you like, but these activities teach us how things get done in the work setting." Monken will complete his associate degree in Liberal Arts in May 2013 and plans to earn his bachelor's degree in government and politics.

The students gratefully acknowledge the mentoring and guidance of MCCC Business Professor Ellen Benowitz, who serves as the organization's state chairwoman and is on the FBLA's National Board. "She encourages us to spend the extra time to get involved and understand the value of learning that goes on outside the classroom," Rodriguez said.

For many students, the conference was the capstone of their academic careers. In addition to the competitions, students immersed themselves in educational workshops, toured conference exhibits and attended motivational keynotes that covered an array of business topics.

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