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OCC Students Advance to National PBL Competition

PBL Members PhotoTwo Olney Central College students will participate in the competitive events this summer at the 2017 Phi Beta Lambda National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, Calif.

Ben Baker, of Olney, and Matthew Runyon, of Noble, advanced to the national competition after receiving top honors at the PBL State Leadership Conference in Effingham April 7-8. They were accompanied to the event by PBL Advisor Shasta Bennett.

Baker placed third in both Sports Management & Marketing and Contemporary Sports Issues while Runyon finished second in Microeconomics and third in Macroeconomics. The pair competed against students from 11 other colleges and universities in Illinois on the 100-question written tests.

“I really enjoyed being with the other college students, networking and talking to other PBL members from across the state,” Baker said of the conference. “There were also a lot of good workshops we got to attend.”

Phi Beta Lambda is the collegiate affiliate of Future Business Leaders of America. The organization trains future business leaders to become contributing members of society.

“I was very involved in FBLA in high school and I have been to the national conference before,” Runyon said. “I’m excited to get a second opportunity to go back. It’s a chance to network and meet students from all around the country. It’s a great experience, personally and professionally.”

Both Baker and Runyon are looking forward to the four-day national conference, which will draw thousands of students from across the country to test their knowledge and skills through competitive events, share successes and learn new ideas about shaping their careers through workshops and exhibits. PBL Advisors Bennett and Amie Mayhall also will attend.

“I am really very excited about the national conference,” Baker said. “I was involved in the high school level of the organization and I have been to the FBLA national conference. I think it is cool I will be able to go in college with PBL.”

Runyon, who graduates May 12, will transfer to the University of Illinois to major in crop science, with a concentration in plant biotechnology. Baker, a first-year student at OCC, plans to study aerospace engineering. While neither Baker nor Runyon are pursuing careers in business, both are glad they chose to continue participating in FBLA/PBL.

“After being in FBLA in high school, I knew PBL was a good organization,” Baker said. “Even though I’m not studying business, I’ve learned a lot of things. You never know how it will benefit you in the future.”

Runyon also liked the community service activities PBL offered including volunteering at The Master’s Hands in Olney.

“I really enjoyed FBLA in high school and I’m so happy I was able to continue with the collegiate version here,” he said.

OCC’s PBL chapter is selling etched OCC rambler travel mugs to assist Baker and Runyon with travel expenses to the conference. Mugs are available in 30- and 20-ounce sizes, which are $30 and $25 respectively. To purchase a mug, contact Bennett at 618-395-7777, ext. 2231.

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