Champion marketers: UW-Whitewater AMA stays at the pinnacle

    April 21, 2014

    As they walked around the American Marketing Association international conference, UW-Whitewater students felt a lot like Michael Phelps at the Olympics.

    "When people looked at our name badges and saw we were from UW-Whitewater, their eyes lit up," said Sara Metz, a senior and president of the chapter. "Everybody knows us. Students recognize us as an organization that has had a tremendous amount of success."

    The reputation is well deserved.

    For the 11th time in 36 years, UW-Whitewater AMA earned International Chapter of the Year honors at the national conference in New Orleans, April 10-12. About 350 chapters in North America participated.

    To receive the recognition, students needed to compose a stellar annual report -- a 20-page document that outlines the chapter's professional development, community service, fundraising, membership data and communications. Students started collecting data and writing sections of the report at the beginning of the academic year.

    Unlike previous years, UW-Whitewater technically could not compete against other schools.

    "We won International Chapter of the Year last year. AMA adopted a new rule that when you're selected, you aren't eligible to compete next year," explained Jimmy Peltier, professor of marketing and adviser. "However, if your annual report is of high quality, you are awarded a two-year reign."

    Because of its excellence, UW-Whitewater is considered part of the "platinum circle." Only two other schools have achieved that status -- Texas State University and University of Pennsylvania.

    In addition to the chapter of the year category, UW-Whitewater excelled in other competitions at the conference.

    Samantha Hoerchner, a senior from Germantown, was named Student Marketer of the Year runner-up. UW-Whitewater also made the semifinals in the Hershey-sponsored CASE competition, and placed third for best recruitment video.

    "We are globally recognized as the best chapter in the world," Peltier said. "We have a tradition within our organization of training our students from freshman year to take over leadership roles. We're virtually the only chapter that knows three semesters out who our president will be."

    That strategy and a mentoring process ensure a smooth transition each semester. A "book of knowledge," passed down from class to class, is filled with helpful advice for new leaders, meaning no more lost ground due to "rebuilding years."

    "We have a very diverse group of students with majors that aren't even in business school," said Kiersten Boos, a junior journalism major. "The fact that it's like a family is greatest part. I really feel welcomed on a professional and personal level. I can truly say I've met some of my best friends in AMA."

    Boos, from Pewaukee, went to her first AMA meeting as a freshman after being "enticed by pizza." She says her participation in the organization has already helped her secure two internships in marketing and business development.

    "AMA provides opportunities for networking, meeting new friends and life experiences you can't get in the classroom," she said.

    Metz, a marketing and management major from Cuba City, touted the incredible leadership experience she's received as a member of AMA.

    "Throughout my term as president, I have learned to empower others, become thankful for successes and failures, and mostly that it isn't ‘what can I get out of this?' but rather about ‘what can I contribute?'" she said.

    -- Written by Jeff Angileri

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