As students returned to full classrooms this semester, the students of Enactus Appalachian, part of an international organization dedicated to creating a better world, set new standards of what’s possible through cross-functional innovation. Enactus is the world's largest experiential learning platform, and in just the past few months, the Enactus Appalachian team
Showcased their internationally recognized project, C6 Appalachian, at the Enactus World Cup.
Was named a United States finalist in the Red Bull Basement Competition.
Created a new venture in collaboration with students at Virginia Tech that won second place at this year’s Big Idea Pitch Competition (and another that’s working to destigmatize learning disabilities).
Assisted in the formation of a campus-wide sustainability alliance.
In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic slowed people and projects around the world, the Enactus Appalachian team was working harder than ever to launch C6 Appalachian, a plastic upcycling initiative working with local businesses to collect plastic and create products to address both environmental and social needs.
“C6 Appalachian turns waste into a valuable product,” said Adam Garrison, C6 Appalachian’s project lead and a senior computer information systems major in the Walker College of Business. “The ability to collect, cleanse and recycle high density polyethylene plastic bottle caps quite literally allows us to turn one person’s junk into another’s treasure.”
To scale their efforts, the students competed in and won the Ford College Community Challenge and were awarded $25,000 in funding from the Ford Motor Company Fund.
Enactus World Cup
The team also competed in the 2020 Enactus National Exposition and won the Early Stage Competition, a win they would repeat in 2021, earning them the opportunity to showcase C6 Appalachian on an international stage at the 2021 Enactus World Cup.
“It’s truly a full-circle moment to be able to showcase C6 Appalachian at the World Cup to more than 70,000 people in 37 different countries,” said Hannah Ross, Enactus Appalachian’s vice president of membership and a senior management major in the Walker College. “The work our team has done with C6 is incredible, and it was rewarding to finally share that with the world.”
At the event, Ross also spoke on the Food for the Planet panel alongside representatives from the United Nations, the LIVEKINDLY Collective and ADM. Watch Enactus Appalachian’s World Cup video, which was created by freshman industrial design major Brandon Attea and sophomore special education major Lena Ledbetter.
Red Bull Basement Competition
Next, with support from senior digital marketing major Grace White, a student marketeer at Red Bull, the team competed in the Red Bull Basement Competition and became one of four finalists from the US out of 182 applicants. Junior finance major and Enactus Appalachian’s vice president of finance Jessica Phillips and sophomore international business major and Enactus Appalachian’s vice president of projects Matthias Von Feilitzsch led the effort.
“It was an incredible honor to represent Appalachian in the Red Bull Basement competition,” said Phillips. “I’m extremely proud of our team’s performance and am looking forward to the continued development of C6 Appalachian.”
Partnering cross campuses
This semester, students in Enactus Appalachian have also embarked on a venture of collaborative entrepreneurship with their new projects, Hypha and My Superpower Is.
Hypha, led by sophomore sustainable development major Joshua Derienzo, aims to create an alternative to plastic-based packaging materials with mycelium, the vegitative part of a mushroom.
Enactus Appalachian’s Hypha team has spent the last few months working with students and professors in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech exploring the process of production with mycelium and learning how to capitalize on the properties of a mushroom to create the most sustainable product.
“Working with our partners at Virginia Tech has been absolutely phenomenal,” said Von Feilitzsch. “The information we are learning from them has played a massive role in the development of Hypha and we are excited for the progression of our venture.”
Additionally, Derienzo and Von Feilitzsch earned second place at the 2021 Big Idea Pitch Competition, generating exposure and financial support for the project. “It was amazing to take part and place in this year’s Big Idea Pitch Competition,” said Derienzo. “We learned a tremendous amount from the experience and are elated to have received funding for Hypha, which will help us in our next steps.”
Pioneered by junior management major and Enactus Appalachian president Eva Jane Buhrman and junior sustainable tech major Eli Fisher, My Superpower Is works to eliminate the stigma around learning disabilities in classrooms across North Carolina. This semester, the My Superpower Is team has been working in conjunction with Watauga and Wake County Schools to create testimonial booklets with resources for students that will soon be integrated into the classroom.
“Being able to have this booklet in the class would mean far more students getting access to resources that usually take weeks to months to find,” said Fisher. “Students with learning differences would be able to receive necessary accommodations much faster than in years past, greatly increasing their opportunities for success.”
Students involved with My Superpower Is have also had the opportunity to collaborate with TikTok star Theo Goff. “It's not only nice to know that somebody like Theo believes in our idea, but believes in it because he knows that it would have helped him and that it will help a ton of students in the future,” said Buhrman. “Theo was able to capitalize upon his superpower to obtain success and happiness, and that’s an indicator of how important it is to change the conversation around learning disabilities.”
A Sustainability Alliance
In addition to creating projects that address one or more of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals, students at Enactus Appalachian have also been working on campus-wide initiatives — like forming a sustainability alliance.
Sophomore management major Leia Ross, sophomore international business major Matthias Von Feilitzsch, and junior sustainable development major and Enactus Appalachain’s vice president of sustainability Rachel Sampey have worked with representatives from App State’s Renewable Energy Initiative and the Solar Vehicle Team to create more sustainable initiatives on campus and provide opportunities for students to collaborate with campus leaders outside of their department or college.
“Collaborating with other sustainability-minded students and professionals across campus integrates what I have learned in my classes into campus-wide sustainability initiatives,” said Sampey. “As a sustainable development major, opportunities like the Sustainability Alliance allows me to learn new skills and opens up the field to new pathways in sustainability.”
Above all, the students of Enactus Appalachian are proud of their ability to combine what they’re learning in the classroom with their drive to make a difference in the world around them.
“Being in Enactus means that I get to be a part of something bigger than just a club. I get to work with talented, innovative and intelligent people to find ways to be more sustainable,” said freshman international business major Katie Di Benedetto. “I feel like I am helping the Earth but also the people living on it.”
Di Benedetto’s sentiment has been echoed by students around the organization who have opportunities to develop transferable skills that align with their fields, while turning their passion into action.
“Getting involved with Enactus Appalachian was truly the best decision I made throughout my college career,'' said Ross. “The opportunities I’ve had within the organization have truly served as a catalyst for my professional development and post-graduate career.”
Entering its fourth year on campus, Enactus Appalachian is looking for student leaders who are passionate about helping their community through social and environmental entrepreneurship. If becoming part of a team that taps into the compassion, drive and creativity of students to address the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in local communities sounds exciting to you, join Enactus Appalachian. Email the executive team at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and follow us on Instagram @enactusappalachian.
About the Walker College of Business
The Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University delivers transformational educational experiences that prepare and inspire students to be ethical, innovative and engaged business leaders who positively impact our community, both locally and globally. The college places emphasis on international experiences, sustainable business practices, entrepreneurial programs and real-world applications with industry. Enrolling approximately 3,000 undergraduates in 10 majors and 175 graduate students in three master's programs, the Walker College is accredited by AACSB International – the premier global accrediting body for schools of business. Learn more at business.appstate.edu.
November 21, 2021
By: Hannah Ross