Point Park competes in third annual DEIC competition hosted by America250PA


Courtesy Diana Navarrete

Written By Caitlyn Scott, Co-News Editor

On Nov. 8, 2021, Point Park competed at the third annual statewide Direct Effect Innovation Challenge (DEIC) hosted by America250PA, taking first in the final competition.

The Direct Effect Innovation Challenge, held at the State Museum in Harrisburg, encourages college students within Pennsylvania to create integrated marketing campaigns that provide solutions to real-life challenges impacting Pennsylvania communities.

“We encouraged students from all PA post-secondary institutions, departments and disciplines to participate in the challenge,” Marissa Gioffre, Director of Projects and Programming of America250PA, said. “In order to engage as many students as possible, our team reached out to at least one faculty member at every single post-secondary institution in the Commonwealth. The COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for many schools to compete this year, so we are looking forward to engaging many more schools and students in 2022 and beyond.”

Six institutions—King’s College, Pennsylvania College of Arts and Design, Saint Francis University, Thaddeus Stevens College, Thiel College and Point Park—were among the participants within the final round of the competition. America250PA was established by Governor Tom Wolf and legislators in 2018 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States, along with highlighting Pennsylvania’s integral role in the country’s development.

According to a press release composed by America250PA, a series of three competitions were conducted: the “Campus Challenge” portion was held in September, followed by a virtual second round in October and then the third and final in-person round on November 8.

Representing Point Park throughout the three competitions were students Natalea Hillen, Diana Navarrete, Jenna Tarson and Kailan Wendler. Although all took part throughout the three rounds of the competition, Hillen and Navarrete were the only two participants for Point Park at the final in-person round in Harrisburg.

“The hardest challenge was when two of our members were unable to compete in person for the final round,” Diana Navarrete, a public relations and advertising major, said. “I really hoped that it would not end up being just me competing for the whole team. Everyone had done their part in creating the content and overall presentation, but the final round was crucial. Although, thanks to God, Natalea Hillen was able to present the campaign with me at Harrisburg, along with us having support from the other two team members who were not able to join, our faculty advisor Dr. Dorene Ciletti and the Dean of the School of Business, Stephen Tanzilli.”

The theme of this year’s competition was called “SHOWCASE PA,” which centered around the organization’s “Educate, Preserve, Innovate, and Celebrate (E.P.I.C.) Platforms and Focus Areas,” where students needed to conduct research pertaining to topics such as “agriculture, diversity, education, history and tourism.” The competition’s main initiative was to provide students, faculty and local communities with opportunities to work together within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to create a statewide movement, uniting all citizens within each county in the state.

“Being able to watch the creative and innovative spirits of these students throughout the Direct
Effect Innovation Challenge is nothing short of awe-inspiring. The next generation of
Pennsylvanians recognize the historical significance of America250PA and we are so proud of
each of them that chose to join us and become a part of history,” said Cassandra Coleman,
Executive Director of America250PA.

Thanks to the presenting sponsor UGI Utilities, first place winners were given a cash prize and offered internships with America250PA. Additionally, America250PA’s Semiquincentennial Founders Circle sponsors Corterra Energy gifted the Point Park winners with tickets to the Steelers Game held on November 14.

“The United States was formed by creative individuals coming together to develop a new strategy and a new direction for the colonies. Nearly 250 years later, we celebrate that creative spirit with the launch of the America250PA DEIC,” Gioffre said. “We want to see how students across PA can help us make 2026 #EPIC, as we Educate, Preserve, Innovate, and Celebrate Pennsylvania’s rich history, culture, and future over these next five years!”

With the 2021 competition over, Navarrete said that this competition is just one of many opportunities through Point Park for students to get involved and represent the university.

“This competition has represented the professionalism and hard work ethic of Point Park in general,” Navarrete said. “We are being taught to be working professionals that excel under pressure and overcome challenges. We don’t give up when there is potential in the work being done. This competition is one of the many opportunities that Point Park has to offer to help students grow and demonstrate their potential for greatness.”

America250PA will be hosting the 2022 DEIC competition next fall.