An International Student Climbing the Diamond Challenge Ladder
by Ashley Lin | Nov 7, 2019
If you visited the Diamond Challenge community on Facebook, you would notice student entrepreneurs from all over the world. As I was scrolling through the posts (which you should definitely do—so much wisdom!!), I noticed a community member calling for an ambassadors program as a way to engage older alumni and bridge the gap in the pipeline during college. As a current Student Advisory Board member, I found it interesting to apply this concept to: (1) older college-aged alumni, and (2) create opportunities for college students, who aren’t in high school anymore and can’t participate in the SAB, but also aren’t as established in their career yet.
I knew I wanted to learn more about the idea from the mastermind who proposed it, and had a chance to chat with Levan Jaliashvili over Facebook Messenger. Levan has done it all in the Diamond Challenge. In 2016, he was a Diamond Challenge competitor and simply challenged himself with the opportunity. In 2017, his team tried again, won the preliminary round in his country, and traveled to the University of Delaware to compete in the international semifinal round. In 2018, Levan came back to the Diamond Challenge community as a Student Advisory Board member. Finally, in 2019, Levan served as an online judge and the adviser for a local team.
Credit: Levan Jaliashvili, 2017 Georgia preliminary round winners
Oh wait—did I mention that Levan is from a small town next to Tbilisi in the country of Georgia? Levan says there’s a lack of entrepreneurship education experiences for students in his hometown, and most of the training students get is informal and online. Finding the Diamond Challenge community on Facebook was crucial for Levan, who appreciated the peer-to-peer connections and opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship from people instead of textbooks.
That’s why alumni engagement opportunities are so important to him. Without the Diamond Challenge, Levan would have never found his passion for entrepreneurship, nor gained the skills that have prepared him for his education and career goals. For example, Levan currently works as a teaching assistant at his university in Georgia, an experience he was prepared for by mentoring Diamond Challenge teams.
For many international students, including Levan, the Diamond Challenge is an experience that has changed his life. Not only did it expose Levan to different professions after high school, but he was able to identify that profession and find himself in the process. The Diamond Challenge brought many firsts for Levan. Competing at semifinals was his first time meeting people from all over the world. It was his first time giving a pitch in English to a bunch of people who spoke it as their first language.
“I was afraid of meeting people from all over the world because of language barriers, but giving my pitch in English and communicating with others gave me self confidence,” Levan said. “That experience was so important for me.”
Levan is a strong proponent for increasing ways for alumni to stay involved, because the Diamond Challenge community is one he never wants to lose. It’s the same on our end—phenomenal mentors and contributors like Levan are what makes the Diamond Challenge community strong, and we are always looking to better engage our college alumni. If you have any ideas for alumni engagement, or if you’re like Levan and want to be a virtual judge or team mentor, please reach out to the Diamond Challenge Student Advisory Board at [email protected].
No matter where our Diamond Challenge alumni go, we are constantly amazed by how they continue to make an impact on the world for the better.
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Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the University of Delaware’s creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement. Built and actively supported by successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders, Horn Entrepreneurship empowers aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs as they pursue new ideas for a better world.