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Whitworth “Shark Tank” Competition Highlights Community Health Majors’ Senior Projects

May 10, 2022

Whitworth community health majors are in it to win it! Seven seniors will compete in the 2022 Community Health Shark Tank event on Thursday, May 12, in the Dornsife Health Sciences Building, Room 125, from 12:30-2 p.m.

The students have worked all semester on intervention projects to address community health problems they are passionate about. They were each required to research evidence-based intervention solutions, develop a needs assessment, and create a turn-key health promotion program. 

On May 12, the students will pitch their ideas to the community leaders who make up the “Shark Tank” judging panel. Only one winner will be selected. Contestants will be judged on program efficacy, presentation quality and demonstration of need. 

This year’s participants are Kamryn Broennle, Emily Albert, Makenzie Sherrill, Zulema Sotelo Veron, Connor O’Brien, Samuel Rontale and Taylor Simkins.

Their pitches address issues such as health concerns related to homelessness, lack of diversity in mental health services, mammogram access and college retention among BIPOC students.

“This activity is an important way to connect students with established professionals to bridge the gap between the theory and the practice of health promotion,” says Robin Pickering, professor of health sciences. “The students get an intense, real-life experience of researching a complex and nuanced health problem and using data and evidence-based practice to inform their proposed solutions. The community leaders get the benefit of hearing fresh perspectives and connecting with each other and future community health professionals.”

The 2022 Shark Tank judges are Erin Williams Hueter, Inland Northwest director, Lutheran Community Services Northwest; Jeff Ketchel with the Washington State Public Health Association; Grant Ogren, executive director, SAN (formerly Spokane Aids Network); Sara Clements-Sampson from Priority Spokane; and Ben Stuckart, executive director, Spokane Low Income Housing Consortium.

Although no real cash is exchanged or funding provided at the end of the competition like the real Shark Tank, many of the ideas in years past have been adopted in part or in full by local businesses and organizations. They include:

A training program for caregivers to reduce rates of sexual assault in the developmentally disabled population.

A workplace wellness program.

An after-school outdoor physical activity program aimed at students who are at risk and may not qualify for traditional after-school sports.

Last year’s winner, Christopher Clay ’22, created a program called “Nurturing Black Minds” designed to enhance principles of diversity, equity and inclusion within mental health services and create greater access to resources for Black undergraduate students. 

About Whitworth University:

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Trisha Coder, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or