Thoughts from the Rollins College Hult Prize Competition Winning Team ‘SkilledConnex’

By Sonja Boos, Robert Mayper, and Nadia Abdi–members of the Rollins College Hult Prize competition winning team, SkilledConnex. Their winning idea focuses on the creation of a database that collects information about refugees, giving the refugees opportunities to develop skills, gain an education, and complete online job training. SkilledConnex will be presenting their idea in the Regional Hult Prize competition in March 2017 in San Francisco.


Ciara Nowak, the campus director for the Rollins Hult Prize competition, stressed to us when starting our journey that we should try our best to have fun with our project—and we certainly have. In light of recent stressful times, this experience with the Hult Prize competition has been a shining force of positivity in our team’s lives that we turn to for motivation in all things that we do. Our team proved that we could accomplish the task of winning the competition and now it is time for us to rise and push our idea forward. We fully realize our individual talents and have tapped into our true potentials through this opportunity.

Every moment that passes in front of our eyes provides an opportunity to access any untapped potential. For us, we strived to tap that potential not only in this competition but in our everyday lives. One of our members participated in an independent research study interviewing refugees in Germany. Another member of our team devotes nearly all her spare time to helping immigrant families in our Orlando community integrate and create a new life here. With our team’s diverse background, we have aimed to help those in need, and this competition was a natural extension of that.


Realistically, this is just the beginning of a great journey that allows us to make a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable people. Having the support and being able to make our world a better place for us all is what gives us joy and excitement in life. It is true, “the best way to uplift our lives is to do all we can to uplift the lives of others,” and this is what the Hult Prize Competition has done for us.

This experience with the Hult Prize has been amazing; the opportunity is unique, and the first outcomes of our efforts are all the more encouraging. We know that we have planted the seeds for a global enterprise and to us that is amazing. Even with such a huge project we are aware and are confident that we have the idea and tools to make the dreams of millions of refugees become a reality. We are a group coming from different cultural backgrounds with colorful life experiences, and we bring a high-quality international business network and seven different languages into our project.  Having traveled across the globe to get here, we know that dignity is something that comes together from being able to learn, grow, and work.


Without any doubt, our business model titled SkilledConnex is the result of our passions, visions, and life situations. We could not have come this far without the support from the Rollins community, the Holt School, the Hult Prize organizers, the judges, and our families and friends. Our thanks go to Ciara Novak, Mary Conway Dato-on, Natasha Gaye, Steph Murphy, Liz Cvercko, and the judges, Julie Colombino, Vinny Tafuro, Steven Campisi, Dayle Moore, and John Kluwin, for helping us in this journey.

The Hult Prize competition has been truly life changing. Not only because we have had the amazing opportunity to write this post, but also because of the education we have received about the greater issue at hand; this issue being the growing number of displaced individuals due to the conflict in foreign nations, and figuring out what we can do to help. Our team saw some amazing ideas when we presented ours a few weeks ago, and were stunned to see all these talented young individuals who are willing to get involved. The groups we competed against inspire us to push forward with our idea and try to create the best business model possible going into the next phase of the competition.


We would also like to bring special attention to The Holt School here at Rollins College as all of our team members are enrolled in the program. We wanted to prove that Holt students can perform at the highest levels and have been grateful to represent them. We spent many late nights working on our project, knowing that we had the night program behind us every step of the way. Those that are a part of the evening program push us to do our best and are a huge motivator for the team. Our friends and classmates inspire us to be better people every day, and we would love to see more of them participate in opportunities like the Hult Prize

One last message to those reading. Even if the problems before you seem insurmountable, keep trying to address them. Sometimes one idea is not enough to solve the problem, but that idea can be the force that guides you to what you are truly looking for. Don’t be afraid to try.



  1. Mary Conway Dato-on · December 28, 2016

    Wonderful words of encouragement from excellent students. We look forward to following your advancement through the levels of the HULT Prize competition! Best of luck.


  2. Marjorie Goldman · February 8, 2017

    Excellent project! Congratulations


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