Master’s in Higher Education graduate candidates win first place in the 21st Annual Virtual Case Study competition

Four graduate candidates in Elon's M.A. in Higher Education program win first place in the 21st Annual Virtual Case Study competition for

Graduate candidates in the Master’s in Higher Education program earned first place in this year’s Virtual Case Study (VCS) Competition hosted by, one of the leading sites providing student affairs professionals with resources to effectively support and enhance student growth and development.

Members of the Class of 2023 team Toni Formato (team captain), Rebecca Wiles, Mackenzie Hahn and Kelsey Baron were awarded a prize of $200. The 2022 VCS scenario involved creating the elements of two virtual escape rooms. Full guideline details can be found online here.

“Our submission was a ‘Party Smart Escape Room,’ which entailed two virtual escape rooms that we created through Google Slides,” Baron said, who is also a graduate apprentice for Campus Recreation and Wellness.

“The goal was to create a fun and engaging interactive way for students to receive important information to their having a successful college experience. We focused on creating a realistic and fun experience to give students the information needed to enjoy a fun and safe ‘night out’ potentially before they even step foot on campus,” Baron added.

Formato, who is also a graduate apprentice for Campus Recreation and Wellness, said they wanted the virtual escape room to be realistic for college students while also being informative and fun.

“During the case study, we applied information that we have learned throughout our graduate courses, such as writing learning outcomes for the virtual escape room so that we could better understand our end goal for the students that would participate in it,” Formato said. “Overall, it was nice to take a step away from classes for a little bit and work on a project that allowed us to rely on each other’s skills and be creative.”

Rebecca Wiles, graduate apprentice for Residence Life, said she really enjoyed the opportunity to problem solve and create a tangible experience with her team.

“We were able to create something that we think students would benefit from, and work together to be creative in producing a learning opportunity. Plus, none of us had ever created something like this before so it was fun trying to figure it out together,” Wiles said.

Since 2002, has sponsored a Virtual Case Study (VCS) Competition for master’s level students in student personnel administration, counseling or higher education administration graduate programs. Each team member must be currently enrolled in a master’s level program in student affairs administration, counseling or higher education for the corresponding spring semester for a minimum of three credits.