SFA students, faculty and alumni earn honors at international management conference

NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Students in Stephen F. Austin State University’s chapter of the Society for Advancement of Management received several awards in March at the first in-person SAM International Business Conference since the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the conference in Nashville, Tennessee, students from around the world competed in categories ranging from business pitch and extemporaneous speech to a case competition.

The team of four management students from SFA’s Rusche College of Business gained exposure to competing at an academic conference and extended their professional network, said Dr. Gina Harden, SFA associate professor of management and marketing and faculty advisor for the group.

“They represented SFA with honor and class,” Harden said.

SFA’s team won first place for the Campus Chapter Performance Program. That team included Jorge Huerta Caratachea, SAM chapter president and management senior from Tomball; Gabriella Garza, marketing junior from Dallas; Andrew Mares, management junior from Murphy; and Seth Rigby, management junior from McKinney.

In addition, Caratachea was named Outstanding National Student, Garza was named Outstanding Regional Student, and Mares was awarded third place in the extemporaneous speech category.

“Never would I have thought throughout my time in college that I would be awarded such a high honor from an international collegiate organization,” Caratachea said. “I wouldn’t have gotten this award if it wasn’t for my wonderful advisor, Dr. Harden, my mentors, and my SAMily at SFA.”

The students weren’t the only Lumberjacks earning honors. Harden was named Outstanding Faculty Advisor.

“This award means the most to me among other academic honors for teaching, research or service since it is a nomination from my SAM students,” she said. “I am humbled not only by their generosity toward me but also by their professional growth through their participation in the SAM competition. It is really the most rewarding part of my job, and I am so proud of each one of them.”

Two SFA alumni and former SAM members, Corey Johnson and Mikala Groshong, also attended the conference. Johnson, a talent development specialist for Pilot Company based in Nashville, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SFA in 2017 and 2022 and is a temporary committee member for the national SAM board of directors.

Groshong, an operations accountant at MUFG Capital Analytics in Dallas, earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SFA in 2020 and 2021 and is the first Lumberjack to serve on the national SAM board. Also the youngest member ever to serve on the board, Groshong received the Bronze Leadership Award at the conference for her service as a director.

“I love giving back to SAM students because it brings me back to my incredible time on campus,” said Groshong, who earned honors at this same competition during her college career and served as SFA SAM chapter president for over three years. “Everyone in this organization wants to help each other out and wants to see each other succeed — in business, in college and in every other aspect. I love it and will continue to give back and help every SAM and SFA student I can.” 

For more information on SFA’s management program and SAM chapter, visit sfasu.edu/mgtmkt.