Students in Extracurricular Marketing Activity Win Top Honors


The American Marketing Association (AMA) Washington College Chapter was named one of just four top small chapters at the 2023 AMA International Collegiate Conference this spring. The chapter was also invited to present at the conference in recognition of its success with high participation rates by its membership this year.

Members of the American Marketing Association Washington College Chapter with their Top Small Chapter recognition. Photo credit: AMA ICC 2023 - Mark Campbell Productions

Members of the American Marketing Association Washington College Chapter with their Top Small Chapter recognition. Photo credit: AMA ICC 2023 - Mark Campbell Productions

The chapter has been showing steady progress in its evaluations at the AMA conference for the past few years, but this was also a rebuilding year for the organization, as just three students remaining from last year’s chapter had to recruit more than a dozen brand-new members to join them.

Strong engagement by members, and the award-winning results that brings, grows from the group’s structure and the continuity provided by its adviser, Georgina Bliss, assistant director of the Center for Career Development. Modeling professional practice, Bliss has new members sign contracts detailing the expectations of the group, and the students organize themselves into project teams, each with a project manager, and an elected executive board. Bliss provides structure and support to teach students project management best practices with tools and schedules that lead the chapter to successfully complete competitions on time.

The top small chapter honor recognizes outstanding performance in six functional areas: Professional Development, Community & Social Impact, Membership, Communications, Chapter Operations, and Finance. Each area has a leader and a team of students working on it. The chapter submits a plan for the year in the fall, then issues an annual report in the spring reporting on how they accomplished those goals. AMA judges use the reports to determine honors for collegiate chapters. 

Of 333 total collegiate chapters (242 of them small chapters), about 70 submitted reports for consideration. The Washington College Chapter was honored for one of the functional areas in 2021, three in 2022, and made achieving the full top chapter honors a goal for this year. 

“We set plans out for how we wanted to achieve that goal,” said Bemnet Tola ’23, who was president of the chapter this year. Tola worked to keep the team leaders on track in both their activities and their report writing. 

The chapter’s communications efforts have been recognized every year since 2021 and include both thorough internal communications (making use of tools like Slack and GroupMe) and external communications (such as social media and the chapter website). This year the AMA judges were impressed by the chapter’s successes in having 90% to 100% participation by its 17 members in its professional development programming, events with external speakers, and regular chapter activities.

Tola presented on the chapter’s success with new member recruitment and engagement in a conference session featuring many chapter leaders discussing their best practices. She said students from many larger schools presented before her, but many large school students sought her out after her presentation. They enjoy 50 or more members, rather than 17, with large executive boards.

“But they all had a problem with their membership. They had a problem where their members don't show up to their meetings or their members are not committed to the assignments that they were given,” Tola said. “We have this whole different experience where our membership was very strong. Our members were very dedicated. We’re just small because we’re from a small campus. That’s not a problem at all because it kind of became our strength.”

The chance to speak at the conference in New Orleans gave Tola another professional experience in addition to the many skills she said the AMA Washington College Chapter has allowed her and her fellow chapter members to develop. The unique experiential learning opportunity familiarizes students with many job skills that won’t come up in a classroom and requires the students to apply those skills as they prepare for the conference. 

Thanks to funding support from the Department of Business Management and the Student Government Association, every student in the chapter could attend the conference. Bliss said the financial support is essential for the chapter’s success because it promotes diversity and inclusion by removing financial barriers and allows all of the students to benefit from the unique opportunity presented by the conference. 

“Students mingle at the conference with professionals. There are all sorts of opportunities for them to shine in front of all these professionals and potentially find a job,” Bliss said. “You want the AMA icon on your LinkedIn. You want to post pictures of the conference. You want to start a blog about the experience. If you use it right, it can be incredibly meaningful. The AMA in total can be an incredibly robust job source.” 

Students in the 2023 AMA Washington College Top Small Chapter who attended the New Orleans conference 

Bemnet Tola ’23, President  

Jackelin Osorio-Bravo ’24

Noah Vargas ’23  

Lucy Jolliff ’23, international student from the United Kingdom  

Marion Morio ’23, international student from France

Felipe Tassara ’25  

Siobhan Ball ’23 international student from the United Kingdom

Tiana Edwards ’25  

Kimberly Ramos ’23  

Melissa Mercado ’24

Silvana Tipson ’24  

Kendal Thomson ’26  

Sandra Kahnplay ’23  

Emily Bechtel ’24  

Emily Marson ’26