Goodman Spirit of Brock medalists push through self-doubt

Sara Eslampanah’s high expectations almost cost her a rewarding student experience.

The 2020 Goodman School of Business graduate student recipient of the Board of Trustees Spirit of Brock medal was recognized this week as part of Brock University’s Virtual Convocation for her leadership, courage, innovation, inspiration and community involvement.

It was courage that allowed her to move past a month-long struggle.

Sara Eslampanah

Almost immediately after joining the School as a master of Business Administration co-op student from Iran, Eslampanah got heavily involved in case competitions.

The first case competition she ever experienced was through Goodman’s Business English and Skills Transition program, a four-week pre-course to business graduate studies that helps international students develop the language and soft skills required in North American business and academic environments. She was paired with four other students to compete against more than 25 other teams. To her surprise, her team won, and she received an award for her leadership.

This boost in confidence, coupled with encouragement from others, led Eslampanah to continue participating in internal case competitions. But after failing in one of them, she lost her desire to engage with the school community.

“I went into a shell and decided to only focus on my studies rather than getting involved,” she said. “I really regret that month. Looking back, I now realize I learned more from my failures than my winnings.”

Eslampanah pushed on to compete in several more internal and external case competitions, including the DeGroote MBA Case Competition and the John Molson MBA International Case Competition.

The John Molson case competition is the largest of its kind, welcoming only the top business schools worldwide.

“It was an amazing opportunity because my team had two-and-a-half months of practise with Professor Eric Dolansky and Lecturer Norman Chasse,” Eslampanah said. “The competition had 36 teams representing universities from 20 different countries across the world. It was a great learning and networking opportunity.”

In Eslampanah’s second year, she took on a student leadership role as the Vice-President of Internal Affairs for the Goodman Graduate Business Council. During her tenure, she helped organize events and volunteered at the inaugural Goodman Games by welcoming new students to the University, and was among the first group of Goodman ambassadors.

“I tried to be involved in any way I could,” she said. “Whatever opportunities came up, I applied for them. When I was in Iran, I was part of a non-governmental organization for almost 10 years. It was an important part of my life: Empowering the community you’re living in and being a good representative for it. It’s a two-way street because the community is empowering you as well.”

Like Eslampanah, recently graduated Accounting student Bilal Khan was recognized for his student leadership and community involvement by being the 2020 Goodman School of Business undergraduate recipient of the Spirit of Brock medal.

Khan is most known for his involvement with the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU), first as a member of the Brock University Students’ Administrative Council in his second year of studies, then as Vice-President, Finance and Administration in his third year and President in his final year.

Bilal Khan has been involved in student leadership roles with the Brock University Students’ Union since his second year of studies.

It was through these experiences Khan also had the opportunity to serve on the Brock University Senate and Board of Trustees, the City of Thorold and the City of St. Catharines Town and Gown committees, as well as community transportation steering committees.

Khan’s contributions have left a legacy of enhanced transportation services for students and a stronger relationship between students and Brock’s neighbouring communities.

“I made sure I was actively involved both on and off campus as a student leader and representative of our University,” Khan said. “I was amazed by how much there was to learn and experience outside of the classroom and how supportive the Brock community was in those endeavours.”

In addition to his leadership roles with BUSU, Khan was a tutor for the Goodman Accounting Students’ Association and was involved with the Muslim Students’ Association and the Pakistani Students’ Association (PSA). As PSA President, Khan advocated for an intramural cricket team.

This past winter, Khan received the President’s Surgite Award for exemplary leadership and contributions to the community.

Despite his busy schedule and high level of involvement, Khan felt his efforts weren’t enough.

“I had this sense of underachievement where I felt I could have been more active on campus and more involved because I felt there were so many opportunities I was interested in at Brock,” he said. “I have a long list of things I was involved with, but at the same time, I have another long list of all the things that I didn’t do. The support and mentorship of others kept me going. Knowing how much people genuinely cared and celebrated all that I accomplished encouraged and motivated me to keep working hard and do the best I could.”

In addition to the Goodman Spirit of Brock medalists, two other students were recognized for their achievements. Deborah Ooi (BAcc ’20) received the Bachelor of Accounting Distinguished Graduating Student Award and Brittany Kotewicz (BBA ’20) received the Bachelor of Business Administration Distinguished Graduating Student Award as well as the Dean’s Medal for Business.

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