Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business surprised a room full of third through fifth grades with $1,500 scholarships at its annual business competition Tuesday.
Tuesday morning, over one hundred third, fourth and fifth graders filed into the Student Union from the surrounding Stillwater area. Several schools had sent their students to participate in the Meaningful Economics and Entrepreneurship Competition (MEE), where the students would find out they had each received considerable scholarships by attending.
The event was put on by the Oklahoma Council of Economic Education, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting financial literacy and economic education in Oklahoma. Spears hosts the competition annually.
The students were put in groups of 3 or 4, with an older volunteer overseeing two or more groups, and were then tasked with various challenges and assignments.
First, students had to create as many thank you cards as possible while following specific instructions. This was designed to help them understand the concept of quality over quantity. Second, they had a short written test, which covered subjects of basic economics and personal finance. Finally, the students formed their own business proposal, even creating a poster and commercial for their product.
Those in charge of the event said knowledge of personal finance and economics increases by 17 percent for kids who attend the MEE competitions.
The big surprise of Tuesday’s event occured when Laura Ohlstrom, a professor of economics at OSU, got on stage to announce that every single student in the room who would go on to attend the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University would receive a $1,500 scholarship. The applause suddenly became thunderous.
Amy Lee, the director at the Oklahoma Council of Economic Education, said the purpose of the scholarship is about more than just the money itself.
“What it’s really saying to students is, ‘Hey, you can do this,'" Lee said. "'We want you to be a college student; you are welcome here. This is absolutely something you can do.’”