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Midland Students Shine at PBL National Competition


A trio of Midland University students secured top 10 finishes at the PBL National Leadership Experience in June. The event was scheduled to take place in Salt Lake City, Utah, but was done virtually due to COVID-19.

The PBL National Awards program recognizes hundreds of students from universities across the nation who excel in several career and business-related areas. 

Kenzie Bertolas, a senior accounting major, placed second in the Human Resource Management category while also finishing ninth in Cost Accounting. 2020 Midland graduates Seth Strudthoff and Jonathan Quintanilla also brought home top 10 finishes. Strudthoff was eighth in Social Media Challenge while he and Quintanilla teamed up to place ninth in Economic Analysis/Decision Making.

Bertolas, who is also a member of the Midland women’s hockey team, said her runner-up finish was a pleasant surprise. “I was confident in my performance, but there are so many talented students around the country, so taking second was shocking,” she said. “I do not have a lot of knowledge in the Human Resource field, but I have taken management classes that helped me prepare for this event.”

For her project, Bertolas was given a case study and allowed 20 minutes to prepare a 7-minute presentation to judges. Presenting virtually put her a little more at ease in front of the judges. “I was still nervous, but it took some stress off because there weren’t judges sitting in front of me,” she said.

Bertolas competed at the PBL national event as a sophomore, but it took a little friendly competition to motivate her to compete in 2020. “I originally was not going to compete, but my friend from Pennsylvania, whom I met last year at NLC in San Antonio, was competing, so I wanted to see if I could score better than him,” she said. “I ended up placing higher than him at nationals, so I was pretty excited about that!”

Rita Bristol, PBL Advisor for Midland, said the strong showing by Midland students was even more impressive because the competition was opened up to more students across the nation. As opposed to qualifying standards that were required in the past, any student who competed at their respective state level was allowed to compete in the national competition. “I was really proud of our kids because with everything that was going on, they could have easily chosen not to compete,” Bristol said. “Kenzie always prepares very hard, so I was very excited for her.”

Bertolas was one of six Midland students who were part of the PBL competition team. She is excited about the opportunity to take part in one more national competition her senior year. “I am very honored to represent Midland University and the Dunklau School of Business on a national level,” she said. “I am excited for one more year to compete and enhance my personal and business skills!”

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