Thomas College Students Win Innovation Challenge & Cash Prize MacKenzie Riley Young | December 10, 2021

WATERVILLE, MAINE, December 2021 — Teams of Thomas College students competed in the President’s Innovation Challenge earlier this week on campus. Students collaborated with Maine employers and used design thinking for a semester-long project to solve real-world problems.

Winners of the Innovation Challenge pitch competition were Kaysee Leary, of Thomaston, Maine; Jackie Gordon, of Wayne, Maine; and Emma Mora, of Canaan, Maine. Kaysee, Jackie, Emma worked with JMG (Job’s For Maine Graduates) on a restorative justice project. They won $1,000 for their first-place win.

“I really enjoyed participating in the President’s Innovation Challenge for JMG,” said one of the winners, Kaysee. “Learning the task of design thinking was a new challenge for me and my team but it was truly rewarding, and I know it will be useful in the future. I’m really looking forward to working with my team and President Lachance to use our prototype and provide the Thomas College community a more comprehensive way to resolve conflict.”

Another student winner, Jackie, said: “It is extremely rewarding to share this accomplishment with my teammates. We’ve spent the semester studying the effectiveness of restorative justice practices in a multitude of environments which helped us to stay knowledgeable when creating our pitch. I am most excited to see where this idea branches off into and overall, I am so grateful for such a unique opportunity.”

President Laurie G. Lachance who was the visionary for this project, which piloted last academic year and is part of the re-envisioned Guaranteed Job Program, was in attendance for this competition.

Lachance said: “I am incredibly proud of all the students who participated in this innovation challenge. This is truly a unique opportunity for Thomas College students and one that will set them apart in the workforce after graduation.”

Employers who were involved with this semester’s innovation challenge were JMG, Bangor Savings Bank, and CGI Waterville. Employers collaborated regularly with the students throughout the semester leading up to the pitch competition.

“The Innovation Challenge is another important example of why JMG values our partnership with Thomas College. We are so proud of our JMG College Success students at Thomas College, including those who won first place (!), and all who pushed themselves to participate in this real-world skill-building event,” says Craig Larrabee, CEO and President of JMG. “I was so impressed watching our students pitch their solutions, and I have every confidence they are ready to contribute to the business world.” Participants of the President’s Innovation Challenge also earned the Design Thinking digital badge as well as made connections with Maine employers. Learn more about the other challenges and participants.

The next President’s Innovation Challenge will launch at the end of January 2022. Learn more.