Professional Development: SMC Senior Wins Inaugural Apex Showcase, Highlighting Career Skills

Professional Development: SMC Senior Wins Inaugural Apex Showcase, Highlighting Career Skills

Jeremy Handel
Staff Writer

Spartanburg Methodist College senior Geovana Batres Ardon drew on her own experience trying to navigate a path to college as inspiration for her senior Capstone project. She wanted to create a resource for other LatinX students to help them see that there is a path to college and reduce the obstacles that culture, language, and lack of experience can present.

What she didn’t expect to come of her desire to help others was being named the winner of SMC’s inaugural Apex Showcase for her project presentation. Her project, “A College Path Para Todos,” topped 31 seniors who presented their Capstone projects and earned her the $1,000 grand prize.

“Honestly, it was such a wonderful surprise, and I was so proud to have my work recognized by the judges,” Batres Ardon said. “The Apex Showcase will be one of my greatest memories of my time at SMC.”

The Showcase is a business pitch-style competition where SMC seniors present their Capstone project to a panel of judges. The top three finalists then refine and present their project again at the showcase competition, with a new panel of judges choosing the winner.

“The senior Capstone projects test our students on everything they’ve learned and challenges them to put it into action on a project they are passionate about,” said Courtney Shelton, Vice President of Student and Professional Development at SMC. “Geovana’s desire to help other LatinX students is inspiring. We’re proud of her and all of our seniors for the incredible work they put into these projects.”

SMC implemented the senior Capstone as part of its degree-integrated professional development program when it launched its bachelor’s degrees in 2019. The project is a culmination of the professional development curriculum. It tests students to choose, develop, and launch a business start-up, philanthropic endeavor, special event, or other passion project.

Adding the Showcase now provides students an audience for presenting their project and tests their presentation skills. It also includes a networking event prior to the final presentations where all of the seniors are able to discuss their projects with the audience, honing their networking and communication skills as well.

Shelby Lopez and Cristian Bonilla Cruz were the other finalists presenting their Capstone projects to a panel of judges from the Spartanburg community. Lopez finished second with “Art by Shelby Allisun,” showcasing her art and her desire to use her business degree to start an art business rather than doing art as a hobby. Bonilla Cruz claimed third with “ESL with English Crossing,” which helped show Hispanics the resources provided by English Crossing to help them learn English and break down language barriers.

Judges for the Showcase were Marcos Gomez, Founder and Owner of Dellfrio, LLC, and an SMC Trustee; Paige Stephenson, President & CEO of the United Way of the Piedmont; Cierra Kelly, Executive Project Director for ReGenesis Health Care; and Josh Ridings, Owner of Carpet One Floor & Home. Approximately 150 Spartanburg area community and business leaders and SMC faculty, staff, and students filled the Gibbs Auditorium for the inaugural event.


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