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Sarah Burke wins national marketing challenge

ISSUED: 7 April 2017
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — A Shepherd University communication major is one of this semester’s winners in the Ketchum Mindfire Challenge. Sarah Burke, a sophomore from Martinsburg, won the M.S. Paint Challenge.

Burke is in the Public Relations Principles class taught by Dr. Matthew Kushin, associate professor of mass communications. This is the first semester the class has participated in the challenge, which is sponsored by the global communications company Ketchum.

Mindfire is Ketchum’s award-winning, global, crowd sourcing community of university students that provides creative solutions for the real business challenges of Ketchum’s Fortune 500 clients.

In return for fresh thinking, Ketchum and its clients provide a cash prize for the winning idea of each challenge, plus extra rewards like career coaching with Ketchum partners, jobs and internships, and exclusive access to specialized training for everyone who participates. The name of the client, challenge details, and winning idea that Burke came up with must remain confidential.

“This is incredible,” Burke said. “This is going to do so much for Shepherd by bringing awareness about the university.”

Burke said she’s also excited about personal opportunities that might come from winning.

“The fact that I’m only a sophomore and I won this competition, that’s a big thing for me because I can put it on my résumé when I’m looking for an internship or a future job,” Burke said. “Just having this under my belt is going to help with anything I’m going to do in the future.”

Kushin believes participating in the Mindfire competition provides tremendous value in terms of giving students an opportunity to gain experience in developing creative strategies to solve big problems for major brands.

“These are real world issues; the type of issues that our students will be addressing in their careers,” Kushin said. “I’m very impressed by Sarah and her work this semester in my public relations class. Her creativity and drive are already paying off, and I know she has a bright future ahead of her.”

The Ketchum website says Mindfire has brought innovative ideas to clients such as IKEA, FedEx, Frito-Lay, Wendy’s, Hertz, WhiteWave Foods, and more. For every idea submitted on Mindfire, Ketchum donates one book to its global charitable partner Room to Read.

“A big congrats to Shepherd’s own Sarah Burke for being selected as Ketchum’s Mindfire Challenge winner,” said Ronald Tolson Jr., Ketchum creative platforms manager. “Sarah’s insightful feedback stood out among more than 1,000 participating students and helped to establish Shepherd University as a leading strategic force amid the 50-plus contributing universities. A special acknowledgment goes to her professor, Dr. Matthew J. Kushin. It has truly been a pleasure to work with Dr. Kushin and his talented students this semester.”

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