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Michelle Rhoads, Katrina Ballard, Leslie Oakley and Dr. Rosalie Lopez

Michelle Rhoads, Katrina Ballard, Leslie Oakley,
and Dr. Rosalie Lopez

School of Business graduates earn top honors

Human resource students from University of Phoenix® School of Business won the undergraduate Case Competition at the recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Student Case Competition and Career Summit – West Division, in Ontario, Calif. University of Phoenix students Michelle Rhoads, BSB, Katrina Ballard, BSB and Leslie Oakley, BSB competed against 21 other groups to take the top position. Long-time University of Phoenix faculty member Dr. Rosalie Lopez selected and supported the team, which led to this exciting victory.

During the competition, SHRM presented each team with different complex situations faced by HR professionals. Topics included management practices, staffing and recruiting, compensation and benefits, and labor relations. Teams had to determine a solution, write a paper on the project and create an oral presentation. Each team presented their projects in-person to a panel of SHRM member judges.

“The School of Business is proud of our distinguished graduates who demonstrated both the human resources knowledge and critical thinking skills that are vital to organization success,” said Ruth Veloria, executive dean of University of Phoenix School of Business. “The competition provides a realistic preview of workplace issues that students may encounter in the HR profession, and we are honored to have the achievements of our team members recognized by SHRM.”


“I was proud to represent the University of Phoenix and demonstrate what I learned from the curriculum and my professional career. Despite all of the challenges in my life, I learned there is always a way to accomplish anything.” - Michelle Rhoads, BSB/HRM '14


Over the course of the two-day event, students also received information relevant to the HR profession through professional speakers and practicing HR professionals. The winning team received a $2,500 prize and free registrations to SHRM’s Annual Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas in June.

About the Winning Team

Michelle Rhoads is a 2014 University of Phoenix graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in Human Resources Management. She is a member of Delta Mu Delta International Honor Society. After years in the workforce, Rhoads decided to complete her degree at University of Phoenix because courses offered her the flexibility to finish while working and raising a family. Rhoads, her team and Dr. Lopez co-founded the SHRM Phoenix student chapter in 2014 and continue to lead the student organization today. During the SHRM competition she enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people, network, practice public speaking, and demonstrate what she has learned from curriculum and professional experience to other students and HR professionals.

“I was proud to represent the University of Phoenix and demonstrate what I learned from the curriculum and my professional career,” said Rhoads. “Despite all of the challenges in my life, I learned there is always a way to accomplish anything.”

Leslie Oakley is a 2015 University of Phoenix graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in Human Resources Management. She is a member of Delta Mu Delta International Business Honor Society. Oakley says she enjoyed the camaraderie during the SHRM competition, as well the research and preparation of the presentation.

While pursuing her degree with the University, Oakley persevered despite several significant challenges in her personal life. She says that her husband and faith served as her support system to help her succeed along the way. Oakley encourages other University of Phoenix students to find a support system during their academic journeys.

Katrina Ballard is a 2014  University of Phoenix graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in Human Resources Management. She is a member of Delta Mu Delta International Business Honor Society. “Leadership and teamwork skills come in various forms,” Ballard says about her experience in the competition. “When you collaborate and play to each team member’s greatest strengths you can accomplish anything.”

Ballard chose to study human resources to sharpen her business acumen. She says her instructors taught her in a practical way that allowed her to apply her newfound skillset immediately to her career.

Dr. Rosalie Lopez, JD, DM, Student Chapter Faculty Advisor, is a School of Business faculty member who has taught for University of Phoenix for 20 years. To prepare for the SHRM competition, Lopez said she selected four human resources students from her classes that she thought would be strong competitors.

Lopez explained that while preparing for the competition, the team lost a fourth team member due to personal matters and had to compete with only three participants. Additionally, 2015 was the first year that faculty could not participate with teams, so they had to work independently to prepare. The team worked well together despite the challenges.

When Dr. Lopez was a senior in her undergraduate program in 1980, she won National Student of the Year for SHRM, then called the American Society for Personnel Administration. The award offered Lopez a full-tuition scholarship to pursue her MBA with an emphasis in personnel and industrial relations. Now she is faculty advisor for the student chapter at the Phoenix Campus and will be attending the Las Vegas and Arizona Conferences with the winning team.


“Leadership and teamwork skills come in various forms. When you collaborate and play to each team member’s greatest strengths you can accomplish anything.” - Katrina Ballard, BSB/HRM '14


Two University of Phoenix School of Business degree programs have been recognized by SHRM as fully aligned with the organization’s HR Curriculum Guidebook and Templates. The programs include the Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in Human Resource Management and the Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Human Resource Management


While widely available, not all programs are available in all locations or in both online and on-campus formats. Please check with a University Enrollment Representative by calling 866.766.0766.