Texas Tech Students Win Tibetan Innovation Challenge, Head to India


A team of students at Texas Tech took first place in the Tibetan Innovation Challenge at Tibet House U.S. in New York City on July 10. Using research and business strategy they presented a plan on how to ensure the economic and cultural success for Tibetans. After winning the competition, the team was personally congratulated by the Dalai Lama. 

Shephanie DeLeon, Benjamin Jarvis, Caleb Fisher, Tailor Brown and Saba Nafees were the Texas Tech students involved, they were mentored by Leen Borno.

Winning this contest gives the team the opportunity to travel to India and implement their plan with Tibetans who fled there after the Chinese takeover. Business leaders whom the team met at the competition have even expressed interest in supporting the team’s work in India. 

Team member Benjamin Jarvis explained, “after we gave our presentation we had five minutes of questions and one of the first things we were asked was ‘Who’s going to implement it– you?’ And the first thing I said was absolutely yes, we would love to implement this and help these people.”

Jarvis summarized their plan of action: “creating the opportunity to revitalize and preserve the Tibetan handicraft tradition by marketing it to Western luxury consumers and by creating a grassroots movement through social media and other mediums to target millennials.”

MBA student Caleb Fisher added that he sees this accomplishment as a big win for Texas Tech. 

“I definitely think this is a big deal for Texas Tech,” Fisher said. “We always try to bear our banners far and wide– it’s our motto– and so sending a team of Texas Tech students from Lubbock,Texas to a big city like New York in the presence of international business leaders and the Dalai Lama, it has been cool to see how the community and the school have rallied together.

The Tibetan Innovation Challenge is a project started by the Dalai Lama who felt that too many young Tibetans were forced to leave their homeland and endure economic hardship in order to access jobs. The Texas Tech team was able to meet the Dalai Lama at the Challenge.

Biology student Stephanie DeLeon said that their team’s Texas energy gave them a competitive edge.

“I feel like the Texas culture and the way all of us were brought up and the way we were raised to be passionate and excited about things, I think all those other universities could feel that vibe and say, ‘there’s those Texas people,'” DeLeon said.

Texas Tech President M. Duane Nellis offered his congratulations to the team as well.“We are proud of our Texas Tech students for winning the Tibetan Innovation Challenge in New York,” Nellis said. “Our students are working hard to reach out to others internationally through research, hard work and diligence. Congratulations to the Texas Tech team for winning such a prestigious competition.”

The team will soon be making plans to complete the next step of their project in India. 

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