A podium and backdrop with the Nebraska Wesleyan University logo.
NWU Brugman Pitch Contest winner exudes passion for diversity, inclusion

NWU Brugman Pitch Contest winner exudes passion for diversity, inclusion

  • Nat Kroll gives her pitch
    Nat Kroll gives her pitch during the final rounds of the 2023 Brugman Pitch Contest.
  • Nat Kroll gives her pitch
    Nat Kroll gives her pitch during the final rounds of the 2023 Brugman Pitch Contest.

When Nat Kroll speaks, it’s evident she has a passion for cultural diversity.

“The groups on campus that I often talk about are very close friends, and we have definitely found a home here at NWU because in our classes and with our professors, we feel very open with dialogue and communication to speak from our backgrounds and learn more from people with other backgrounds.”

The senior theater major from Spencer, Iowa, tapped into that passion as the winner of the 2023 Brugman Pitch Contest. Three finalists were tasked with pitching a new mission statement for NWU.

“Since the mission statement hasn’t been revised since (1979), a lot of things have changed. There is a component of core values that focuses on diversity, but it’s only a small section, and it’s not extremely specific,” she says. “I felt that modernizing it and make it more applicable to what the school is like today was very appropriate.”

Brugman rose to the top after more than 50 students entered the contest. Each round, students received a different question and had a limited amount of time to prepare and only four minutes to present to a panel of judges. In earlier rounds, participants were asked to share an idea for renovating a space on campus and asked what could be done to improve student learning at NWU, both 90 second pitches. 

“I think (our panel) thought that her approach to the question was exceptional, and I think she did a phenomenal job presenting as well,” says Steve Brugman (’89), strategic accounts manager with Oracle Corporation.

He says the contest provides a real-world scenario for students to quickly think on their feet. “They’re having to put these pitches together very quickly and research very quickly.  That’s the world today. You have to critically think and organize your thoughts in a coherent way.  Those are skills you use in business and in life.”

Other finalists included: Chance Hergott & Zach Weis (2nd) and Aniaya Reed & Trenan Wilson (3rd). Kroll received $1,000 with second place receiving $750 and third place $500.

Winners of the 2023 Brugman Pitch Contest with Judges
Winners of the 2023 Brugman Pitch Contest: (L-R) Bill Busch, Elizabeth Brugman, Nat Kroll, Zach Weis, Chance Hergott, Trenan Wilson, Aniaya Reed, Steve Brugman, Beth Gonzales-Mensinger and Rod Markin.

Judges in the final round included:

  • Steve Brugman (’89) – Oracle Corporation – Strategic Accounts 
  • Elizabeth Brugman – lives in Sun City West, Arizona (former parent)
  • Rod Markin (’77) – Associate Vice Chancellor for Business Development and Executive Director at the University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • Bill Busch (’88) – Radio Host/Football Coach 
  • Beth Gonzales Mensinger (’89) – Talent/Acquisition Specialist 

Other judges who are NWU alumni were: Anna Castner Wightman Vice President of External Affairs at FNBO, Suzanne Sughroue Associate Vice President of Development at The Madonna Foundation, Charlie Colon Owner and Operator of Chick-fil-A at SouthPointe, Phil Haussler Chief Product Officer at Quantum Workplace, John Batcher Co-Founder/Director of Strategy and Operations at Symphony Workforce, Carly Carlson Chief Revenue Officer at Midwest Barrel Company, Michaela Johanns Young Vice President, MJO Consulting LLC, Jess Loeseke Co-Founder and CEO at Midwest Barrel Company and Mark Schulze Vice President of Operations BNSF.