Augustana senior brings global competition to campus

Sept. 25, 2018

This paid piece is sponsored by Augustana University.

A student who arrived in Sioux Falls from halfway around the world is offering his college classmates the chance to turn a big idea into reality on a global stage.

Augustana University senior Hatem Khalfaoui grew up in Tunisia, a nation on the Mediterranean coast of northwest Africa. He made his first overseas trip as the winner of a Thomas Jefferson Scholarship from Global UGRAD, which assigns student winners to universities.

“And they picked Augustana for me,” he said. “And then I really liked the school. I liked the professors and the quality of education, and I love the Sioux Falls community.”

One year turned into four. He plans to graduate in 2019 with a degree in business and computer information systems and recently was installed as a senator in the Augustana Student Association.

Before that, though, he’s bringing a global opportunity to his school.

While in Tunisia, Khalfaoui was involved with the Hult Prize Foundation. The nonprofit, which has a partnership with the United Nations, encourages teams of college students to use social entrepreneurship to create for-good, for-profit endeavors that address some of the world’s most critical challenges.

The winner receives $1 million toward the effort.

But first, there’s a competition within the campus. That’s what Khalfaoui is organizing, starting next month at Augustana.

“When I came here, I didn’t see a similar thing that drives entrepreneurship and has that energy on campus,” he said. “So I decided to bring that culture here.”

While he has just started talking to students, some have signed up already.

An information session will be Oct. 5 at 4:30 p.m. in Augustana’s Back Alley in the lower level of Morrison Commons, followed by ideation and coaching sessions. The Hult Prize theme this year is youth unemployment and participants are tasked with developing an idea to provide meaningful jobs to 10 million young people in the next decade. Previous themes included renewable energy and transportation.

“We would love for more businesspeople to be involved in coaching – people who started their own businesses or who have been in business management and people who know how things work to say if it’s a good or bad idea,” Khalfaoui said. “We would love if people want to contribute to this initiative. We’re very open to raising funds to send the team to the regionals, so we would love that support as well.”

Campus winners advance to regional competitions worldwide. Regional winners go on to a summer acceleration program where they learn from business mentors and then compete in the finals.

“We need people who have the drive to change the world,” Khalfaoui said. “Ideas are cheap. Execution is key. If you really have the drive to do it, you will solve any problem.”

As for Khalfaoui, he’s balancing his senior year with a part-time job as a product manager at Midco. If he finds a job, he’d like to stay in town.

“It’s been a great experience,” he said of his time in Sioux Falls and at Augustana.

“That’s one of the reasons I’m doing this with the Hult Prize – to say thank you to Augie and to have a legacy when I leave.”

To learn more about Augustana and the Hult Prize, click here or email

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Augustana senior brings global competition to campus

A student who arrived in Sioux Falls from halfway around the world is offering his college classmates the chance to turn a big idea into reality on a global stage.

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