Within four days of the student alumni board announcing the xPrize challenges, freshman Mercer Schuchardt had photographed himself with 500 different students of the freshman class. Other teams in the advanced stages of the challenge were notified to stop competing on Saturday, as senior Grant Duncan, a chairperson on the student alumni board, began the eight hour process of verifying each freshman student’s photo. To celebrate the final victory and to plan for future xPrize competitions, a meeting was held this past Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014 with the winner and runner up teams.
The Student Alumni Board announced xPrize will happen again in the future, and there will be more opportunities for students to compete in new, more difficult and rewarding challenges. Teams were invited to discuss the positive and negative aspects of their experience with xPrize. The meeting included a brainstorming session to create new challenge ideas that will be more equitable, engage alumni more and bring a positive social impact to Wheaton’s campus and beyond.
Challenges that may be coming in the future include organizing a retreat to HoneyRock for at-risk or Down syndrome children, holding a 24/7 prayer room for a week, conducting 30 interviews with people who speak other languages, supplying clean water to 500 people without access, organizing a 1,000 person rally in Chicago, getting 1,000,000 views on a YouTube video, and creating a campus-wide art piece. A few of the students who participated in this conversation included senior Andrew Shadid, sophomore Wesley Braden, senior Julia Wittrock, junior Anna Krcek, junior Joseph Perry, senior Grant Hensel, and junior Moriah Gonzales.
Schuchardt explained the strategy that let him successfully complete the challenge: “I did all the dorms six times, all the floors, guys and girls. I walked through Beamer Center about 10 times. I did two meals at SAGA … I went to lunch and visited every table, and I went through the line and stopped up the line a ton.”
He claims he didn’t feel uncomfortable asking random students to take their picture, except for when people were grumpy with him. “Some people were just really grumpy. When you talk to over 2,000 people in three days, you don’t remember anyone by the end.”
Schuchardt said, “The hardest part was that there was an exponential curve to this challenge. The first 300 were pretty easy to get, but trying to find 500 is pretty hard. There were some of them who were, like, hiding in bushes or something.”
Though the process was difficult, many students felt that they learned a lot and gained valuable skills. Senior Hannah Oury, a team leader who was competing in the food truck festival category, said, “It was a good experience for team building to gain networking skills and plan out advertisements … it was very exciting.”
While Schuchardt is proud of the fact he won the $1,000, he recognizes that not everyone is happy with how the xPrize challenge was structured. Some of the concerns with the challenges that were raised during the meeting include not having equal challenges, the timing restrictions posed to the food truck festival, and the bureaucratic process that some of the groups faced in approving a large Sunday night event on campus.
Some groups expressed frustrations about unequal competition. “Since all of the freshman and sophomores are in two dorm buildings, it’s easier for the younger classes than others. I was disappointed that the picture competition ended up being such an easy challenge. I figured multiple groups would be competing and so different friend groups wouldn’t let each other take pictures,” commented Oury.
While some students did refuse to let Schuchardt take their picture, Schuchardt said, “Multiple people came up afterwards and apologized to me. Some people came up in SAGA and said they were sorry for being rude, which is kind of cool. I honestly didn’t expect that kind of humility.”
When asked if he would do another challenge, Schuchardt said that he would do it again if there were more of a motivation other than money. “Either there needs to be a lot more money or some type of recognition, an incentive … like getting an internship.”
After winning the $1,000 prize, Schuchardt plans to meet with his financial adviser and decide where to best invest the money. He claims that he won’t spend it quickly once he receives the check.
“I’m happy Mercer won. He’s a good guy.” Oury said.