Business students create award-winning humanitarian public service announcements for national agency

Posted on
Winning entries can be viewed at

KINGSTON, R.I., June 5, 2013 – University of Rhode Island business students are among the winners in both the broadcast and print categories of the 2013 PSAid: Public Service Announcements for International Disasters competition.

Students in Assistant Business Professor Koray Özpolat’s spring operations and supply chain management course created public service announcements designed to encourage smart compassion. The spots inform the public that monetary donations to relief organizations are the smart way to help people affected by emergencies overseas. The contest is sponsored by the Center for International Disaster Information and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“My students really went the extra mile,” said Özpolat, who pointed out that his students study business, not communications and media. “They not only provided logistics wisdom, but also learned on their own how to make and edit videos to best communicate that wisdom to the public.”

In the broadcast category, the “Give Smart” video by URI’s Angela Balzano of Warwick, Rachel Correra of Andover, Mass., Stephen Lambert of Narragansett, and Peter Lee of Warwick, came in second. The print PSA “Don’t Get Lost in the Clouds” by Dan Dolben of North Andover, Mass., Stephen Gillissie of Cranston, and Sylvester Nyeswa of Pawtucket, came in third. Both spots reflected the importance of giving money instead of donating items. A panel of judges from the philanthropic, disaster relief, and communications fields selected the winning PSAs, which will be distributed nationally and can be viewed at:

“The winners clearly illustrate the difference between honorable intentions and real-world outcomes of different types of donations in support of disaster relief,” said CIDI Director Juanita M. Riling, director of the Center for International Disaster Information.

Peter Lee, 21, said the winning video highlights aspects of a donation that people don’t normally consider, such as the astronomical cost of storage and shipping.

“The project reflects what I learned all semester,” said Lee, a senior who recently changed his major from accounting to supply chain management, a growing field that controls the movement of a commodity from point of origin to point of demand. Born in Seoul, Korea, Lee is returning home this summer and planning to intern in the Korean steel industry.

Business Assistant Dean Peg Ferguson Boyd said the opportunity to create the PSAs and share the message of smart compassion reflects the business college’s philosophy of project-based learning that prepares students for their chosen professions.

“Not only are students learning theory, they are applying it to the workplace,” she said. “These projects are resume building material and help clarify career choices.”

She praised the social responsibility of the project, saying that the business world is about much more than Wall Street.

For Özpolat, the humanitarian side of supply chain management is critical. Before coming to URI, Özpolat, who is from Turkey, worked for the United Nations in Jordan serving refugee camps in the Near East. What he saw there inspired him to continually look for ways to improve the living conditions of people in crisis. He recently oversaw a successful project that had URI business students working with engineering students to create a humanitarian calculator for the disaster information center.

“We are helping to improve disaster relief,” he said. “This is our social responsibility side and the students are helping to make a small change in the world.”