May 3, 2019
Anderson University College of Business students sent boxes of goods racing across the globe—from Upstate South Carolina to the doorstep of a missionary family in Zambia, Africa.
A senior-level logistics class, which serves as the capstone course for the Supply Chain Management program at Anderson University, completed an international package race this semester. The package race challenged students to find the quickest and most cost-effective way to send supplies to the McDaniel family, missionaries serving in Zambia.
Dr. Kimberly Whitehead, an assistant professor of management who created and led the package race, said that logistics is the movement of people, things or information from one place to another. The package race allowed her students to see logistics in action as they learned how packages physically moved from Anderson to Zambia and tracked shipping information.
Inspired by another university that held a similar package race, Dr. Whitehead implemented a package race at AU to give her students real-world experience while serving a missionary family. By providing supplies for a family on the mission field, this project exemplifies humanitarian logistics, she said.
Dr. Whitehead tasked students with organizing the package race from start to finish. She first presented the idea in her fall semester project management class, and she asked a group of students to develop the package race as their project.
Jackson Yearick, a senior business student, was in Dr. Whitehead’s project management class in the fall semester. He and his group created plans and completed the prep work for the package race. As the communications coordinator for his group, Yearick secured a connection with the McDaniel family.
This semester, students in Dr. Whitehead’s logistics class carried out the plans that Yearick and his group developed in their project management class. In March, the students mailed boxes full of goods, including snacks and school supplies, for the McDaniel family.
Yearick said that he and his group quickly found that mailing a package to Zambia was extremely expensive; each package cost more than $500 to ship. They also had to navigate customs, tariffs and trade.
Based on her students’ budget for the package race, Dr. Whitehead committed to securing the resources required for the package race through fundraising.
Regional businesses graciously funded the package race: Kip and Kim Miller of Eastern Industrial Supplies contributed $1000; ScanSource in Greenville contributed $500; Southeastern Freight Lines promised $500; and various individuals provided the remaining balance.
Dr. Whitehead said that she believes it is important for students to apply the concepts they learn in a textbook. Through approximating costs, facing customs restrictions and budgeting, students gained valuable professional experience.
“It has been really helpful in thinking internationally,” Yearick said. He said that he will now be more familiar with purchasing and the shipping process.
“It is an opportunity for our students to find out that the world is not always this nice, neat package and how to deal with ambiguity or deal with situations where things don’t work out quite as you thought,” Dr. Whitehead said. “If they’re able to do that here in this low-stakes environment in college and learn some of those coping skills, they will be really good at that when they go out into the real world.”
She said that she was encouraged by her students’ excitement, and she saw that they were even willing to go above and beyond her expectations because they knew they were helping someone who was spreading the Gospel.
Dr. Whitehead believes that, at its core, logistics is rooted in the Gospel. She hopes that this project will bring attention to humanitarian logistics and open doors to share the Gospel.
“Ultimately, I tell all of my supply chain students that Jesus was all about the supply chain. Because what is the greatest commandment? To spread the Gospel. That’s moving information from one place to another; that’s logistics,” Dr. Whitehead said.
The McDaniel family was excited to receive the packages and to learn the best way for friends, family and churches to send them supplies.
The first two packages arrived in Zambia only 16 minutes apart on March 26. The third package arrived on April 2. All three packages were shipped through different carriers and had vastly different routes to Zambia.
The group whose package arrived in Zambia first received extra credit on their project. All of the students in the class gained a hands-on lesson in logistics.
Yearick said that the College of Business has given him multiple career opportunities, including the package race, that have provided him with helpful tools for a future career.
Dr. Whitehead said that is important for students to focus on the ultimate goal of sharing the Gospel while also equipping them for the workplace.
“We can do business with a Christian worldview and still be great business people,” Dr. Whitehead said.