Undergraduate Education

2022 Battle to Save Lives, a Global and Public Health Case Competition, Returns In-person

The seventh annual Battle to Save Lives case competition was presented by students in Dr. Eric G. Bing’s Creating Impact in Global and Public Health course.

Students presenting at the 2022 Battle to Save Lives

On April 12, over seventy people gathered to watch SMU’s seventh annual Battle to Save Lives, a global and public health case competition. The event was introduced by Dean Stephanie Knight, Simmons School of Education and Human Development, and featured five teams of students from SMU professor Eric G. Bing’s Creating Impact in Global & Public Health course.  Each team presented their best strategies to solve real-life challenges. Attendees included SMU alums, current students, faculty, staff, and community members who helped the judges select the winning team at the end of the competition.

Two of the teams presented on the case of the Kalita Humpreys Theater, developing strategies to improve the connectivity and engagement with the African American and Hispanic population as well as the physical accessibility of the theater.  Three teams presented their case on the West Dallas STEM School, proposing plans to develop a learning garden at the school to increase student interest in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

You can watch a video summary of each team’s proposal here, and read more below.

Judges at the 2022 Battle to Save Lives

The judges were:

  • Ms. Dionne Davis, Manager of Foundation and Government Relations at the Dallas Theater Center, and co-leader of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee
  • Ms. Hilda Rodriguez, Advisory Board for Renovation of Kalita Humpreys Theater
  • Mr. Wes Keyes, Executive Director of Brother Bills’ Helping Hands
  • Mr. Chris Luna, Vice President, Legal Affairs at T-Mobile US, Inc.
  • Ms. Rikki Schramm, Environmental Education Teacher at the Dallas ISD STEM Environmental Education Center

Case 1: Kalita Humphrey’s Theater

Team Honoring Our Past, Envisioning Our Future presenting at the 2022 Battle to Save Lives

The two Kalita Humpreys Theater teams presented their plans to improve the physical accessibility as well as the connectivity of the Kalita Humpreys Theater in Turtle Creek overall by 25% and by African Americans and Hispanics 50% within the next 2 years. Team ‘Honoring Our Past, Envisioning Our Future,’ started the night by presenting their solutions of increasing visibility of the theater by bringing the theater to the audience and providing online-streaming options of the theater plays, hosting culturally relevant events, such as a Freedom Walk where patrons could take a 35-minute walk from the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, a nearby Dallas Theater Center, to the Kalita Humpreys Theater while viewing scenes of a play along the walk. Team ‘Honoring Our Past, Envisioning Our Future,’ included Bretton Laboret, Bria’ Merchant, Cici Santos, Alex Smith, and Alexandra Yeager, and was coached by Yolette Garcia.

Team Unearthing the Jewel presenting at the 2022 Battle to Save Lives

Team ‘Unearthing the Jewel’ took a slightly different approach, beginning their presentation with a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) that demonstrated and acknowledged the existing strengths and efforts taken by the theater toward increasing community connectivity. The team suggested building on top of the existing efforts by hosting in-person talkbacks, which would be led by the current full-time staff members to minimize cost, and attracting patrons and foot traffic to the theater through investing in a mural art wall.  Team ‘Unearthing the Jewel’ included Imani Holmes, Taylor Jeske, Brooke Koritala, Joseph Lee, Lauren Small, and Joann Yang, and was coached by Collin Yarbrough.

After each presentation, judges were able to ask the team questions.  Following the second presentation, the judges and audience voted and Team ‘Honoring Our Past, Envisioning Our Future’ was awarded the win.

Case 2: West Dallas STEM School

Team Learning Garden Flower STEMS presenting at the 2022 Battle to Save Lives

The second part of the night included three teams of students presenting their strategies for developing a Learning Garden at the West Dallas STEM School (WDSS) that is intended to increase STEM-related knowledge relevant to the learning objectives for the State of Texas, and interest in the STEM-related fields among children attending the school.  Team ‘Learning Garden Flower STEMS’ captured the audience’s attention as they began by asking the audience to imagine that they are six years old and in the shoes of these children who will soon get to plant and grow their own plants right in their schoolyard. The team planned to meet the goal by creating learning stations and experimental tables near the garden as well as recruiting volunteers from organizations such as UT Southwestern and the Perot Museum to give speeches and STEM talks to the children. Team ‘Learning Garden Flower STEMS’ included Cole Deal, James Gullett, Belleza Mitchell, Deemah Pulak, and Nushah Rahman and was coached by Amit Sharma and Lucy Weiss.

Team Nurturing Seeds presenting at the 2022 Battle to Save Lives

The second team, Team ‘Nurturing Seeds’ suggested having a salad garden and a pollinator garden that are ADA accessible.  This team shared their plans of collecting data through surveys and test scores of the students on their schoolwork to measure the efficacy of their plan. They also emphasized the importance of developing a learning garden by mentioning research studies that found students to learn better outdoors compared to traditional indoor classroom settings. Team ‘Nurturing Seeds,’ included Hannah Andrews, Carlisle Dunnam, Hannah Jacobs, Nancy Le, and Brooke Shepherd, and was coached by Marc Sager.

Team Digging Deeper presenting at the 2022 Battle to Save Lives

Lastly, Team ‘Digging Deeper’ began with the big picture by sharing with the audience the importance of increasing STEM interest of children at the WDSS. They specifically mentioned the continuing cycle of the racial disparity in the STEM field with low numbers of minority students pursuing a career in STEM fields. Focusing on maximizing STEM learning and outdoor learning, the team suggested increasing STEM knowledge through having role models that could bring to the students a sense of belonging and focused attention, in addition to an outdoor learning space by the garden. This team also discussed the expansion possibilities of the learning garden at the school as well as the replicability of the project to other schools across the world.  Team ‘Digging Deeper, included Eliana Abraham, James Chamberlain, Kaitlyn Gearin, Kyle Kavrazonis, and Thomas Truong, and was coached by Shelly Potter.

Team Digging Deeper presenting to the SMU President, Provost and Simmons School of Education and Human Development Executive Board

After each presentation, judges were able to ask the team questions.  Following the third presentation, the judges and audience voted and Team ‘Team ‘Digging Deeper’ was awarded the win.  Following the competition, Team ‘Digging Deeper’ presented their case to the SMU President, Provost and Simmons School of Education and Human Development Executive Board, showcasing the work of students in the Creating Impact in Global & Public Health course.

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