Award-winning nutrition science and nursing students to attend entrepreneurship conferences

Two NDSU nutrition science and nursing student teams participating in the Problems to Possibilities program were selected as finalists at the Possibility Showcase, hosted by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Family Business on April 16.

Photo of students standing in front of a screen as they present their Map the System project on the approach to diet-related disease in the U.S.

Taylor Lee, a nutrition science major, is the team leader for the winning project, “Soil to Cell: A Root-Cause Approach to Diet-Related Disease in the U.S.” Other team members include nutrition science major Lexy Nelson and University of Jamestown communications majors Makelle Gulleson and Luke Zimmer. The group was selected as the winning team in the Map the Systems track and will attend the Banff Systems Summit in Banff, Canada.

The team’s project explores the complex journey of food from its origin in the soil to its arrival in human cells. It highlights increased chronic disease rates in the United States and the interconnected nature of policymakers, lobbyists, and the food, agricultural and pharmaceutical industries to create a system that prioritizes profit over public health.

The Banff Systems Summit is hosted by Mount Royal University’s Institute for Community Prosperity and welcomes post-secondary students across Canada, practitioner-changemakers from multiple sectors and a select number of international participants. It aims to address the pressing need for a systems-driven approach to tackling global challenges while bridging the gap between classroom-based learning and real-world applications.

Photo of NDSU nursing student Macy Stender sharing her group's project on ways to address the need for suitable clothing options for individuals with Down Syndrome

Macy Stender, an NDSU nursing major and entrepreneurship minor, is the team leader for the winning project “Xtra Apparel—Solving Inadequate Accessibility to Clothing Options and Sizes for Individuals with Down Syndrome.” Her partner, Mariah Huglen, is majoring in Fashion Product Development. They are being mentored by Kyle Voltin, the founder of the Fargo-Moorhead based Xtra Apparel Co. The team will present their project and compete at the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge in San Diego.

The project addresses the need for suitable clothing options for individuals with Down syndrome who face difficulty finding appropriately sized attire due to their unique body proportions. Their research examines the broader neglect of the needs of people with disabilities in society and underscores the impact on their self-esteem and daily comfort.

The Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge is a prestigious international platform organized by the University of San Diego and celebrates the spirit of student social entrepreneurship worldwide. Its mission is to spotlight and support exceptional social and environmental ventures that aim for a positive impact and financial sustainability. Since its inception in 2011, this challenge has been a beacon of innovation, connecting over 3,000 entrepreneurs from more than 25 diverse countries.

NDSU’s Problems to Possibilities program challenges students to think differently about entrepreneurship and change-making. It leverages systems thinking and local networks to drive social, environmental and economic progress. The NDSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Family Business seeks to engage students of any major interested in entrepreneurship and innovative thinking. Rather than a standard pitch competition, it fosters the discovery process and encourages a learning-first approach to social change.

A panel of judges heard idea pitches from ten Problems to Possibilities teams. The winning teams presented to an audience at the Possibility Showcase in April. Other projects examined food insecurity in North Dakota, illegal mining in Ghana, the impact of oil in North Dakota, birth rates in South Korea, adolescent obesity, food insecurity in South Africa, Greek life hazing and adolescent behavioral healthcare in Minneapolis.

The winning teams will attend The Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge on May 3-4, in San Diego and the Banff Systems Summit in Banff, Canada, on May 27-29.

Top of page