(Left to Right): Samer Rihani, Sadie Stephenson, Blaga Ivanova, Jenna Bentley, Reem Mustafa, and Beth Snow.

FHS team place first in 2022 Student Evaluation Case Competition

July 04, 2022

By: Geron Malbas

A group of Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) Master of Public Health (MPH) students (Jenna Bentley, Blaga Ivanova, Reem Mustafa, Samer Rihani, and Sadie Stephenson) recently placed first in the 2022 Student Evaluation Case Competition.

Working alongside each other in the MPH program, the team wanted to get involved in the competition after realizing their shared knowledge and experience could incite change.

“Our group saw the opportunity online and knew that we would be able to apply our collective individual experiences to make change possible as a team,” Rihani explains. “We loved the opportunity to pull from all our diverse strengths to facilitate improvement and showcase what evaluation is all about: making a difference. We’ve worked together throughout our MPH program and loved working as a group with one another!”

The case competition has two rounds: the preliminary round and the final round. In the preliminary round, teams of students are given a request for proposals and have 5.5 hours to prepare a response. Submissions are evaluated by a bilingual panel of three experienced evaluators across Canada. The team worked on pieces individually, asking each other for feedback and advice to group everything together to provide feedback. Bentley explains how this was the most important part of creating their cases.

“Our first case was a case about a senior’s wellbeing program called “Links2Wellbeing” from the Older Adult Centres' Association of Ontario which asked about social prescribing and better serving seniors in Ontario. Our final round case was for the Rainbow Resource Centre in Winnipeg and looked at their 2SLGBTQ+ Youth Program for youth aged 10-21 and determining how to better support youth accessing resources and services in their community.”

The “Lens Consulting” team was coached by FHS professor Beth Snow, who shared her evaluation expertise and practical advice from her evaluation practice throughout the competition. While the experience was both fun and reflective of the team’s shared academic experience, they could not deny their worries and fears.

“We can’t deny the nervous feeling we had during the conference,” Ivanova says, “Presenting in front of 3 well-established judges and a crowd of people, as well as preparing for the Q&A portion was not easy, but we loved every part of it.”

“This experience highlights how group-oriented the field of public health is,” Mustafa says.  “We couldn’t have done this experience or had the outcome that we had without each person on our team bringing their skills to the table. Much of our course-based learning in the MPH program -  such as discussing and analyzing various social issues, or the social determinants of health - was a great asset coming into the competition.”

With their accomplishment, the team will be invited to represent Canada in the World Evaluation Case Competition taking place in November. For the team, winning first place was rewarding, but not as rewarding as seeing all their work come together, Stephenson explains.

“Hearing the news that we won was such a rewarding and uplifting feeling after 5 hours of working frantically on our case, but we felt like the most genuinely rewarding part was just knowing that we put in the work that we knew we would be ready for any questions that the audience had.”