First Presentations for First-Year Business Students

With 20 percent of their grade at stake, students draw on everything they've learned for the fall's final project

Every first-year student in Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School has to take “SBS-101: Business Foundations,” a course that introduces them to the important concepts of business — ones they'll use for the rest of their careers. The culmination of the course — and 20 percent of the grade — is a group presentation to live judges. This year the students took on Meta (formerly known as Facebook) for their final case. The groups tackled problems from ethics to leadership to losing younger demographics to cybersecurity to the company's role in the mental health crisis.

Over the course of three days in early December 2021, more than 300 students presented to 50 executives, many of whom are Business School alumni. George Moker, director of First-Year Programs, kicked off the Saturday event with the executives and reminded them that many of our first-year students were attending prom (or pandemic versions of prom) just six short months ago.

This project is the culmination of all that the students learn in Business Foundations, encompassing not only the content, but what they’ve learned about working in teams, presenting, and problem solving. Team L1 comprised five members of the Class of 2025: Edward Abouzeid, Evelyn Blecharczyk, Laysha Fournier, Jillian Isenstadt, and Catherine Madden. Here’s how the day went for them.

Evelyn Blecharczyk, Catherine Madden, Edward Abouzeid

Moments before the presentation, Catherine (center) tweaks the group's slides as Evelyn and Edward weigh in.

Students rehearse

Before the judges come in, the group rehearses one final time to an empty room.

Jillian Isenstadt, Edward Abouzeid, Laysha Fournier

Edward presents to the judges as Jillian and Laysha look on. "Throughout the semester there's this whole build-up of stress and just how nerve-racking the presentations are going to be," said Jillian. "Then we do it and it's, like, we were made to do this. It's nice to have the confirmation that, yes, this is going to be my career, and we like it, and we're good at it."

Presentation judges

The judging panel included an unexpected member: Amy Zeng, dean of the Sawyer Business School. "We didn't know she was going to come in," said Catherine. "If we'd known, we could have had our freak-out ahead of time!"

Jillian Isenstadt shares info with the next group

After the presentation, Jillian shares intel on how things went with the next group.

Professor George Moker, Catherine Madden, Evelyn Blecharczyk

Professor George Moker talks with Catherine and Evelyn after the judges' critique. "I'm very grateful we had Professor Moker as our teacher," said Catherine. "The way he teaches us is not necessarily text was more real life. And I really appreciated the fact I could sort of see my future."

Team L1
Presentation over, Team L1 can celebrate their hard work and a successful end to their first semesters at the Sawyer Business School.


Greg Gatlin
Office of Public Affairs

Ben Hall
Office of Public Affairs