Honors in Action: Meeting Local Business Leaders
Students in Dr. Trey Denton’s Honors Research Seminar for business majors find themselves leaving the classroom to meet local business leaders and entrepreneurs in their environment. On these trips, students have the opportunity see first-hand the inner-workings of a company and ask questions of the people who run those companies. During the fall semester, the class visited Crider Foods and its state-of-the-art meat canning facility.
“Not only did we tour the facility (after an extremely rigorous decontamination procedure!), but we had the chance to discuss business strategies with the Owner President and CEO Mr. Billy Crider and multiple members of his executive team. We discussed what it was like starting the business and stewarding its growth into the successful company it is today, what it is like operating a private family-owned business, the influence of automation, plans for international expansion and a host of other topics,” Dr. Denton said.
The ability to witness the process of a functioning business allows these honors students to move beyond the classroom and into the professional world with tangible activities. This course provides advantages to the honors students pursuing careers in business after their time at Georgia Southern.
Dr. Denton also invites businesses at all stages of development to come and speak to the class. “Last year, Mr. Chuck Howell, Director of Sales for the new startup Big Kat Buggies, spoke to our class about the challenges of establishing a new product like their versatile wagon that slides onto a regular auto tow hitch. Just a few weeks ago, Ms. Margaret Hicks spoke to our class about her ideas for marketing a new line of dog beds and pet-related clothing,”
The course is designed to balance both academic research and professional experiences, in order to provide inspiration for students during their undergraduate career, but also for students to realize how they can use their degrees after college.
Kelley Nemec (information systems ’19) said, “Dr. Denton has been most helpful in guiding us through the beginning stages of our research while incorporating a variety of speakers, which promotes different aspects of business. Afterwards, our discussions changed based on the new conversations with the professionals.”
The students continually refer back to their experiences with Crider Foods and various guest speakers. A hands-on experiences allows students to use their knowledge from the classroom in a professional setting. “I loved seeing their excitement when they had the opportunity to see the principles they learned in their classes being put to great use in the real world,” Dr. Denton said.
This class is designed specifically for students in their junior year, at the beginning stages of their research. Throughout these visits and meeting with guest speakers, students are exposed to different aspects of business and start to map out their plan for the thesis.
Dr. Denton has taught this course for the past four years and continues to enjoy working with the caliber of dedication and intelligence that honors students provide to the class. “The opportunity to interact with highly motivated and enthusiastic students who simply like learning is enjoyable for me as a professor. Also, I am thankful for the ability to talk about current events with students from every business major in the room. I love hearing the various perspectives on the issues of our day. Having a course with enough time to let conversations roam and explore these issues in depth is a luxury,” he said.
Bailey Morris (operations management ’19) appreciates the specialized guidance from Dr. Denton as well as the aspect of collaboration between his classmates. “The Honors research course has helped me greatly in starting my research project. Dr. Denton explains step-by-step how to complete your project and answers any questions we may have. More importantly, he helps calm everyone’s nerves about completing the project. Working with other students outside my major is definitely a plus. It allows for the topics and conversations to include viewpoints from all the departments in the college rather than just my own particular major,” Morris said.
The process of creating a topic, choosing a mentor, and writing a research paper can be extremely overwhelming. However, Dr. Denton created a means to prepare students. His course allows for the students’ creativity to lead them to a subject for their thesis. One of Dr. Denton’s students, Mitchel Mayes (logistics ’18), relies on his guidance not only for the present but for future aspirations.
“This course has given me tools I need to use for my Honors Thesis, like learning how to conduct a proper survey. Dr. Denton also stressed the important aspects of creating a research paper at this level within the field of business. However, the friendly environment created by my peers allowed us to be open and express our genuine opinions on specific topics. Also, this research focused on skills that were applicable to our futures after graduation,” Mayes said.
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