Tash and I were privileged to accompany the Cornell Health Administration students to Alabama for the annual case Competition held at University of Albabama at Birmingham on February 16-17, 2012.Pictured, left to right, are Rachna Badlani, Natasha Niro, Frank Niro, Katie Strausser and Rachel DeSantis (photo courtesy of Katie Strausser)
There were 32 teams representing the premier graduate programs from around the country. The format included a preliminary round of six groups consisting of five or six teams. One winner was picked in each group to advance to the finals where they competed for cash prizes.
The team watched all of the six finalists' presentations this afternoon and saw some areas where they were clearly strong and on target, and other places where they might have done better.
I spoke with one of the judges for our group who said the choice of which team advanced to the finals from our group was very close and difficult, not disclosing who was the second choice (but her body language gave me a hint that it was probably Cornell). Because of the nature of the competition, the second place finisher in one group could have scored higher than the winner of another group. That's an unfortunate but necessary downside of the process.
In any case, at the awards banquet this evening, the Cornell team was awarded with the First Honorable Mention prize. In other words, they were the best of the rest that didn't make the finals. I was very impressed with their presentation as well as their ability to handle some really tough questions under pressure. Their award was truly deserved, in my opinion, and all the more outstanding given that they were apparently the only team among the 32 schools consisting entirely of first year students.
The Cornell team finished ahead of Michigan, Minnesota, Johns Hopkins, George Washington and a host of other outstanding programs. Katie, Rachel, and Rachna truly represented Cornell well and I trust that you will join me in congratulating them. They will not be bringing home the money, but the experience and the networking contacts clearly makes them all winners, as Randa Hall stated more than once. One of the other judges gave them each his card stating that his hospital has a one year fellowship program and that he would be honored to have either of the members of our team as a "fellow" in his system.