Recent Winners

2021-2022 Winning Team

Mary Claire Basso-Luca
Jazlyn Benitez
Peter Fortescue
Rachael Freeman
Rachael Freeman
Kiya Rodriguez

The  St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) Team

Mary Claire Basso-Luca of Olney, MD is a Senior with a major in Psychology and a minor in French. She is the Vice President of the Catholic Seahawks Club and a member of the Psi Chi honor society. In her free time, she likes to knit and to read!
Jazlyn Benitez of Silver Spring, Maryland is a Senior pursuing a double major in Economics and Environmental Studies. She is an Alpha Chi Omega Student-Athlete and Captain of the SMCM Women’s swim team. She is passionate about pursuing a career advancing environmentally resilient practices in the business sector. 
Peter Fortescue is a Senior and Economics Major. He is a member of Omicron Delta Epsilon International Economics Honor Society. He is a United States Coast Guard Veteran.
Rachael Freeman of Baltimore, Maryland is a Junior pursuing a double major in Economics and Public Policy with a minor in Business Management. Rachael is a member of the Omicron Delta Epsilon Economics Honor Society and a member of the Women’s Lacrosse team. Rachael hopes to pursue law school after graduating.
Kiya Rodriguez is a 2022 graduate, with a B.A. in Economics. She is planning a career in the field of data analysis.

The 2021-2022 Winning Team at the Symposium in Washington, DC

Read the essay and the Press Release.

St. Mary’s College of Maryland Faculty Advisors
Josh Kaisen, Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics
Jennifer J. Tickle, Associate Professor of Psychology

2021-2022 Runners Up

Abrielle Manning and Jack Lunden, Rollins College

Honorable Mention goes to Abrielle Manning and Jack Lunden of Rollins College, who submitted a paper entitled: Saving Old Age Insurance: Reforming Retirement Security in the United States for the Future. The Rollins College faculty advisor was Dr. Donald Davison.

Read the essay and the Press Release.

2020-2021 Winning Team

Heather Quach and Victor Li of University of Maryland Baltimore County

Heather and Victor’s essay, Improving Retirement: The Role of Education and Innovation, was chosen by the blue-ribbon panel of judges to receive the national award.

This winning essay, grounded in behavioral research, lays out a commonsense plan to improve financial education and promote greater personal savings. The paper explores the lack of mandatory financial literacy training and suggests solutions for the potential gaps in teaching capacity. The paper also takes a novel look at the health expenses in retirement calling it the fourth pillar of retirement security.

Heather Quach of Glen Burnie, Maryland is a student at UMBC, majoring in Financial Economics with a minor in Environmental Science. She volunteers at VITA, helping low-income people file their taxes and is also active in the astronomy club.

Victor Li of Rockville, Maryland is a student at UMBC with a double major in Financial Economics and Computer Science. He is a member of the Investment Club and the Software and Design Club. In the summer of 2021, he worked as a Budget Analyst at NIAID in the NIH. In his free time Victor enjoys reading, playing guitar or going for a run.

The faculty advisor for the submission was Professor Douglas J. Lamdin, Department of Economics, UMBC.

Read the essay and the Press Release.

2020-2021 Runner Up

Brennan Dwyer, University of New Hampshire
The essay Bipartisan Proposal for Retirement Social Security and Retirement Contributions Plan aims to bridge partisan divides and provide practical solutions to shortcomings in Social Security financing personal savings and financial literacy. 
Brennan Dwyer is an undergraduate student at UNH, majoring in Analytical Economics. He has been active in the Innovation Society and the Socratic Society at UNH.
The faculty advisor for the submission was Professor Joseph Dwyer, UNH.
Read the essay and the Press Release.


2019-2020 Winner

David Nipper of Folsom Lake College

David’s paper, Reform for the Modern American Retirement System, was chosen by the blue-ribbon panel of judges to receive the 2020 iOme Challenge award. This winning essay outlines a plan to shore up Social Security, increase personal savings and expand financial literacy and advice to workers needing it the most. Read David Nipper’s essay and the Press Release announcing the winner.

 2018-2019 Winner

The iOme Challenge winning team for 2019 is from Michigan Technological University. The students—Zach Rosenbaum, Cole Peppin, and John Ruf—were selected for their essay The Basic Proposal: Retirement Policy for a New Generation.  The team also created a short video. The faculty advisor for the team is Emanuel Xavier-Oliveira, PhD, Assistant Professor of Economics, School of Business & Economics at Michigan Tech. As the winner of the Challenge, the team received a $5,000 prize and presented their essay at a forum in Washington, DC on June 19, 2019.

See photos from the 2019 Forum.

2017-2018 Winner

The 2018 iOme Challenge winner is Evan Avila, a student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). His faculty advisor was Professor Douglas J. Lamdin, Department of Economics, UMBC.

2017-2018 iOme Challenge Question: Congress has invited a Team of millennials to join the Special Bipartisan Task Force to address the nation’s growing retirement crisis. A special emphasis will be placed on increasing retirement savings opportunities for millennials at the workplace and independently. You are tasked with developing a comprehensive policy proposal that will address challenges and result in more millennials saving for retirement. The policy proposal may include, but is not be limited to: 1) Ideas to expand the number of employers that offer plans to traditional and nontraditional workers; 2) Ideas to encourage gig economy workers to participate in retirement savings; 3) Ideas to encourage more employees to participate in the plans offered to them; 4) Ways that tax or other government policy can be used to increase savings; and 5) How to use online resources and social media to facilitate awareness and increase savings.

Read the 2017-2018 Winning Essay.
Watch the 2017-2018 team video.
See photos from the 2018 Forum.

2016-2017 Winner

The winning team of the 2016-2017 Challenge is a first-ever collaborative effort across schools. Team members include: Yankang (Bennie) Chen, Columbia University; Jiayu (Kamessi) Zhao, Columbia University; Siheng (Asa) Li, Amherst College; and Qiufeng (Joseph) Zhang, Duke University. The team’s faculty advisor is Prof. Jonathan E. Vogel, Columbia University.

This year, teams were asked to imagine the newly elected president has named your iOme Team as members of the Task Force for the Financial Security of Millennials (TFFSM). The President believes that Millennials face some unique financial challenges. And that addressing the financial concerns of Millennials will have substantial economic impact for the future of the Millennial Generation. Two of the major financial challenges that face Millennials are substantial college debt and the lack of saving for retirement. These two challenges are naturally linked to one another. Paying off large college indebtedness means those funds cannot be set aside for retirement. Teams were asked to develop a policy proposal that will solve or ease the burden of college debt for Millennials. If the college debt burden is eased, what incentives can be developed to ensure that the money saved can be channeled into savings for retirement? The policy proposal links these two financial challenges and provides solutions for both.

Read the 2016-2017 Winning Essay.
Watch the 2016-2017 team video.
See photos from the 2017 Forum