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Student Spotlight: Calvin Eells


This fall semester, 20 students from Hillsborough Community College competed in the 10-week Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge, “a virtual exchange initiative that supports workforce development in the U.S., Iraq and Jordan.”

The two competing HCC teams were called “Team PolyHills” from the Ybor City Campus and “Team HCBQ” from the Dale Mabry Campus.


The HCC PolyHills team was led by business student and Tampa native, Calvin Eells.


After graduating from Bloomingdale High School in 2017, Calvin decided it was time to further his education and enrolled at HCC in the summer of 2018. 


For Calvin, the opportunity to join the global challenge was presented by HCC business professor, Katen Amin, via an email to his students. Despite taking four full-time classes this semester, Calvin was immediately interested and knew it would be an exciting extracurricular project. 


The HCC students on the PolyHills team, which were facilitated by Professor Amin, were paired with students from Duhok Polytechnic University, located in Iraq. “We call ourselves the ‘PolyHills’ because we combined Polytechnic and Hillsborough,” Calvin laughed. 


The PolyHills team consisted of a total of 17 students from both schools. 


In Calvin’s words, “The challenge was to create a business concept that is sustainable for the environment and is in accordance with the Triple bottom line - planet, profit and people. Within our bi-national team, we split responsibilities amongst us to form our marketing team, business concept team, research team and the group leadership. As any young business would, we formulated a model that detailed how our idea would work in the real world. After the 10-week challenge is done, our business idea is judged by a panel of experts.”


The PolyHills team created a business model for a sustainable lifestyle brand that employs the world’s internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees and homeless. To read their full business concept, visit the following link:


To view their pitch video, click here:


Out of 24 bi-national teams, both HCC teams were among the top six finalists and will present a final pitch on December 16, 2020 at the Virtual Global Business Expo. From the six finalists, three teams will be named the top business models and will receive seed money to continue developing their ideas. 


As one of the PolyHills team leads, Calvin was responsible for leading virtual meetings, making sure deadlines were met and ensuring everyone was following the challenge curriculum. 


When speaking on the overall experience, he said, “The cross-cultural aspect of the challenge has been the most rewarding. When I read Professor Amin’s email regarding the opportunity, I was immediately excited about the global aspect behind the challenge. I learned about how individuals my age live and have cultural norms different from my own that I had no idea about. We’ve all become friends and now that the challenge is wrapping up, our conversations have shifted from project-oriented to more everyday social topics. We’ve become pen pals of sorts. We’ve started exchanging social media handles and phone numbers because despite whatever happens with the challenge, we want to stay in touch.” 


“Being a part of the team and taking part of the challenge has been the highlight of my experience at HCC, and I'd like to thank Professor Amin for informing his students of the opportunity.” 


Calvin is expected to graduate from HCC in spring 2021 with an associate in arts degree in business. He plans to continue his education after HCC but is keeping his transfer options open. 


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