Brandman University students transform shrink wrap into award-winning quilts for veterans and homeless

January 16, 2018 by Brandman University

IRVINE, Calif., Jan. 15, 2018 - Providing warmth for those without shelter. That was the goal of the winning entry in the 2018 Brandman University Innovation Tournament.

Tournament winners
Dean Christine Zeppos, Diana Davidson, Damon Wright, Alicia Virtue, Celeste Akiu, Sara Hall Kennedy, Daniel Scudero, Lucy Pearson Edwards, cohort mentor Walter Buster.

Using this year’s featured item – shrink wrap provided by sponsor Golden State Foods – Doctorate of Education in organizational leadership (Ed.D.) students from the Fairfield, California, campus created lightweight yet warm quilts with shrink-wrap batting and won first place in this year’s contest.

The tournament is adapted from Stanford’s Global Innovation Tournament and You Innovate!, hosted nationally by the Canadian Business Foundation. The Doctorate of Education in organizational leadership program is transformational for leaders in education, business, health care and government fields. Candidates practice entrepreneurship, build teamwork, leadership and creativity skills, and join in a friendly competition.

Herb Callahan and winners
Herb Callahan, Ed.D., Golden State Foods senior director of human resources, hands out bamboo plaques to the winning team.

“Doctoral program learning objectives focus on developing transformational leaders who can lead complex change in a changing society. We know our students will be called upon to form teams within their organizations to solve difficult problems that often require innovative solutions. In this project, our students experienced firsthand what it’s like to participate in a Hot Team and practice skills of team building and developing innovative solutions to solve a complex problem,” said Marilou Ryder, Ed.D., associate professor, Brandman University School of Education.

Students are divided into cohorts based on location in the fall and given an everyday item with the challenge of making something significant out of an ordinary item. In previous years, Amazon cardboard boxes, paint sticks, washcloths and coat hangers were offered up to students as “mystery items.” Close to 100 doctoral students were assigned to work on one of 14 student-led teams this year using Golden State Foods’ shrink wrap. Each team’s mission: Change the world by creating the most value possible.

Special mention
Members of the winning team gave Alicia S. Virtue (second from right) credit for saving their work during the Santa Rosa fire.

The 2018 winners are from Hot Team 14, from Brandman University’s Fairfield, California cohort:

  • Celeste H. Akiu – principal, River Middle School
  • Diana B. Davidson - vice principal, Gateway Community Charter
  • Lucy Edwards – director, Napa County Office of Education
  • Sara Hall Kennedy – counselor, Progress Foundation
  • Sandra Pearson – director, Napa County Office of Education
  • Daniel R. Scudero – principal, American Canyon Middle School
  • Alicia S. Virtue – dean, Santa Rosa Junior College
  • Damon J. Wright – executive director, Napa Valley Unified School District

The group created quilts for those without shelter and partnered with a local veterans’ organization, Vet Connect, to distribute the quilts. Dr. Walter Buster, a former school superintendent, served as the cohort’s mentor. Other creations this year included a kit with sanitary items to combat a recent hepatitis outbreak, a lanyard to remind parents not to leave their child in a hot car, a sun shade for play areas, a hat for cancer patients, and more.

Marilou Ryder and shrink wrap
Brandman faculty member Marilou Ryder, Ed.D., shows off the shrink wrap. (File photo, August 2017).

“Partnering with Brandman during this tournament has been a great experience,” said Dr. Herb Callahan, senior director of human resources, GSF, and Brandman University 2016 Ed.D. alumnus. “Not only did we get to see some innovative ideas that support our own ongoing efforts for sustainable operations, but we also got to see and hear from more than 100 doctoral students who are passionate about transforming our world. The ripple effect of their efforts and inspiration will have a lasting impact on GSF and all of the organizations the students interacted with during this project.”

Winners were honored Monday, Jan. 15., at Brandman University’s three-day Immersion event which brings together more than 150 students enrolled in the Ed.D program to the Irvine Marriott. Students were assigned this project in their fall course titled “Creativity, Innovation and Sustainable Change.” Instructors graded each team’s Innovation project and then forwarded them to the university for final judging. Winning team projects are announced each year at a film festival during the January Immersion.

About Brandman University

Brandman University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). As part of the Chapman University System, Brandman blends a legacy of academic excellence with innovative curriculum and strong support services designed for students with busy schedules. The university offers more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, credential and certificate programs across its schools of arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and health. Brandman serves 12,000 students annually with programs available online and more than 25 campuses throughout California and Washington. The university’s online programs consistently rank among the top in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. For additional information, visit

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