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How a Project Management Class Inspired Leadership and Learning

Nicole Patterson

Benjamin Ward, C’23, has worked hard all semester to practice and apply the skills he’s learned on the field, as one of the captains on the lacrosse team, and in the classroom. For the past four years, he’s been invested in his education, balancing academics and athletics. In his final semester before graduation, Ward is showcasing his leadership abilities and making a positive impact on the Mount community.

ben wardIn his final semester as an undergraduate student, the business major (with a concentration in finance) enrolled in BUS 375: Project Management taught by Josey Chacko, Ph.D., associate professor in the Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business.

“The course requires students to work in teams and work on a project together. This allows our students to practice hands-on project management skills, both soft and technical ones, with a project of their choosing,” Chacko explained.

Ward was grouped with Caleb McCleaf, C’24, Lily Gorman, C’24, and Jack Strame, C’23. Throughout the semester, they brainstormed multiple ideas and used project management tools to create something they were passionate about and something that would be beneficial to Mount students. Their group finally settled on a project they called Fill Emmit’s Backpack—a fundraising effort to support students in need.

“It’s a big issue,” Ward explained. “We have all seen the same problem at the beginning of the semester when students can’t afford textbooks. They ultimately miss class assignments because they don’t have the money and can’t find the right free copy online.” He says he understands the issue because some of the junior players on the lacrosse team have reached out to upperclassmen asking for textbooks because they don’t have the necessary funds.

emmits-back-pack-2-4.jpgThe group got to work. They paired with Vice President for University Advancement Bob Brennan, C’85, and talked through strategy. Originally the group wanted to target alumni but later decided it would be best to ask faculty for their support.

“We sent out an email with all the information and we were able to go door to door and ask professors we had in the past. We asked them to get behind the cause—and everyone was willing to help us,” Ward added.

Flyers included an illustration of Emmit standing on a stack of textbooks with marketing copy that read: “Help your students get what they need to succeed! All donations will directly help students purchase textbooks.” A QR code took donors to a special giving site. Within one week the group raised hundreds of dollars.


Chacko was impressed: “They partnered with the advancement team, planned and executed the project on time. They did a phenomenal job under a tight schedule.”

The second group in the Project Management course included Kelly Shanley, C’23, Taylor Woodward, C’23, Travis Fraley, C’23, and Joey McElwain, C’23. Their project involved a 5K to raise funds for the National Fallen Firefighters Association, and they worked with Director of Operations Maureen Plant and the Department of Public Safety & Security to hold the Flames to Finish 5K, which Chacko deemed a success.

project-management-students.pngWard will graduate in about 23 days—and he’s excited to continue learning and growing. He completed internships with Keller Brothers in Mount Airy and Harkins Builders in Columbia, Maryland.

“I have a job offer to be a project engineer after college,” Ward said. “But I’m also coming back next year for a fifth year to get my MBA and play one more year of lacrosse.”

The Mount teaches students to apply their learning in ways that serve their neighbors and communities. When you give, you make it possible to provide merit awards to worthy students like Ward, recruit top-notch faculty like Chacko, supply equipment, training, and mentorship for student-athletes, enhance experiential learning and strengthen academic programming. Your dollars are a tangible expression of hope. Give to the Mount’s Annual Fund, the Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business and men’s lacrosse.


Nicole Patterson