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Midland University Students Excel at PBL National Leadership Conference


Four Midland University students enjoyed a successful weekend competing at the Professional Business Leaders National Leadership Conference, held June 24-27 at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago. Those four students combined for seven awards, including a runner-up finish.

PBL students from across the country competed against each other by completing tests, giving presentations, solving case studies, and role-playing in various events covering various business topics. Awards were given to the top 10 finishers in each category, both for teams and individuals.

“In all the years I’ve taken students to this conference, I’ve never had a year where each of them came back with multiple awards, so that was really awesome to see,” said Rita Bristol, Associate Professor of Business and PBL advisor at Midland. “It was the first time for each of them to attend this event, and they had the opportunity to meet students from all over the country.”

Riley Herring and Bridget Praest teamed up for a second-place finish in the desktop publishing category. Herring also finished third in public speaking and fourth in small business management, while Praest took fifth in social media marketing. Praest also teamed with Burton Brandt to finish sixth in marketing analysis & decision making.

Brandt and Scott Tatum placed third as a team in management analysis & decision making, while Tatum finished fifth in hospitality management. 

It was the first time the event was held in person since 2019, affording students from many different institutions the opportunity to not only meet and greet each other, but to converse with numerous business professionals as well. “I absolutely loved the conference and the memories I made,” Tatum said. “I got the chance to tour Chicago and make friendships that will last a lifetime. In addition to competing, I was also able to attend lectures and further my education on a business level.”

Herring serves as Vice President of Communications for Nebraska PBL. The in-person event allowed her to connect with other Nebraska officers, as well as students from several different states. “It’s the first time we’ve been able to connect in person, and not only did we make friends and valuable connections from Nebraska schools, but from schools in places like Arizona, Kansas, South Carolina, and more,” Herring said. “It’s great to be a part of an organization that truly impacts your career and gives you the confidence for these jobs at such an early stage.”

Bristol said the group is already looking forward to the 2023 National Leadership Conference, scheduled for June in Atlanta. Any students interested in participating, or wanting to learn more about PBL, can contact Bristol at

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