Thursday, May 26, 2005
SIFE named first runner-up at national competition
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
OU’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team was named the first runner-up within their league at the SIFE USA National Exposition and Career Opportunity Fair May 21-25 in Kansas City, Mo. The team also earned the regional title at SIFE’s regional competition in Chicago, Ill., in April.
The goal of SIFE is to change something within the greater community to better the area. While each of the SIFE teams from 1,400 college campuses in 40 countries focuses its efforts in different areas, OU’s SIFE team has chosen to work with children from economically disadvantaged areas to give them the opportunity to succeed.
OU SIFE develops and implements programs to teach the middle and high school students from Pontiac, Detroit, Ferndale and Oak Park schools about global trade, business skills and the value of an education.
SIFE works with students from school districts with high drop out rates and finds ways to help the students stay in school.
“Businesses in the area are interested in what we are doing and are encouraging students to stay in school and get an education so they can work within the area,” SIFE President Jitesh Singh said.
At the regional and national competitions, OU’s SIFE team presented a report on a select number of the 17 projects, 108 workshops and 1,421 students they worked with this year. Covering the categories of global knowledge, entrepreneurship, personal skills and ethics and social responsibility, the team was judged by executives from major companies on creativity, innovation and effectiveness.
OU’s SIFE team used short-term activities like an Internet scavenger hunt and games like Social Responsibility Bingo to teach basic concepts to the students. Long-term projects like Project TIGER, which the students work with a SIFE team in India to find a product to increase productivity in the country, and the week-long Entrepreneurship Camp give students a chance to learn more in-depth concepts like business plans, marketing techniques and critical thinking.
The ideas for the projects come from anyone from SIFE’s board members to students who spend just a few hours volunteering with the group.
“The team really puts in a tremendous amount of dedication and time,” said OU SIFE faculty adviser Mike Callahan. “They are touching these kids’ hearts and souls. And they are building momentum and building a critical mass to really move the needle and make a difference."
In addition to being the first runner-up in the national competition, the OU SIFE team earned the title of regional champions as the SIFE USA Regional Competition. Through the competitions, the team earned more than $4,500 in prize money that will be used to support SIFE’s programs in the community.
The team is led by a nine-member executive board including Singh; Sarah Ivan, senior elementary education major; Andrew Lee, management information systems senior; Katherine Salisbury, junior marketing major; Sarah Shea, junior accounting and finance major; and Ryan Strausbaugh, senior marketing and Spanish major.
In addition, the team works closely with the school districts and OU’s pre-college programs like Gear Up, Project Upward Bound and the King Chavez Parks initiative to serve as a delivery arm for the programs in the schools. SIFE also has been awarded funds from SBC Foundation and the Comerica Charitable Foundation to support educational programs.
Although Oakland University’s SIFE team is housed in the School of Business Administration, students from all disciplines are welcome to participate. Nearly 33 percent of SIFE’s 116 members are from non-business majors. Education, human resource development, computer science and business majors, along with others, work together and sometimes earn community service, internship or extra credit for their time volunteering with SIFE.
For more information, visit the OU SIFE Web site or contact Jitesh Singh at (248) 703-4984 or email@example.com.