Thursday, April 27, 2006
OU’s SIFE team heading to national competition
|OU's SIFE team took first place in the regional competition in Chicago, Ill., on March 27.|
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
For their creative and innovative projects and programs to teach local middle and high school students about global trade, business skills and the value of an education, OU’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) won the regional tournament in Chicago, Ill., on March 27 and is heading to the SIFE USA National Exposition and Career Opportunity Fair in Kansas City, Mo., May 21-23.
SIFE’s overall goal is to change something within the greater community to better the area. Each of the 1,400 college teams in 40 countries focuses its efforts in different areas and OU’s SIFE team has chosen to work with children from economically disadvantaged areas to give them the opportunity to succeed. Working with students from Pontiac, Detroit, Ferndale and Oak Park schools, SIFE teaches students about business and education, hoping to help them continue on to a successful life.
“I’m so proud of the team for their dedication to the projects and the students throughout the year,” said Jitesh Singh, senior management information systems and president of SIFE.
At the regional competition, SIFE presented a report on projects they have completed in the last year, including:
- Entrepreneurship Camp — Economically disadvantaged high school students live on campus and attend classes to learn about entrepreneurship for two weeks during the summer. Each student who completes the program and successfully presents a business plan receives a $500 scholarship.
- Post Camp — In partnership with Credit Union ONE, SIFE hosts financial literacy workshops focusing on managing debt, obtaining credit, financial goal setting and budgeting.
- King-Chavez-Parks — Working with the OU KCP program, SIFE runs workshops that teach students about free enterprise, trade, social responsibility and business ethics.
- Introducing Middle School Pupils to All Characteristics of Trade (IMPACT) — SIFE teaches students at Jefferson Whittier Middle School in Pontiac about global economics.
- Bridge to Life — Four days a week throughout the school year, students from SIFE teach students from two different schools about entrepreneurship while also mentoring them about personal and academic issues.
- Attaining Life Changing Opportunities Via Entrepreneurship (ALCOVE) — SIFE plans to open a retail store in the Oakland Center to provide SIFE students the opportunity to develop and manage the retail location while raising money for SIFE.
- Achieving Profitable Opportunities and Life Lessons in Organizations (APOLLO) — Partnership with regional store managers from Walgreens, SIFE has placed products from Bottle Crew Inc. in 25 local stores, raising funds for SIFE. Walgreens also provides internships to OU students as part of the partnership.
For the competition, SIFE’s presentation team, which is composed of five members from its executive board, presented a 24-minute presentation on SIFE’s programs and successes and answered questions from the judges. They were judged by executives from major companies on creativity, innovation and effectiveness.
“The SIFE team did a great job of implementing these programs this year and the experience they receive is a great supplement to what they learn in the classroom,” said Wayne Blizman, director of the Entrepreneurship Institute at OU, which works with SIFE. “The presentation team did a great job at regionals conveying our story to the judges.”
OU SIFE received awards in four of the six categories including market economics, success skills, entrepreneurship and program sustainability and received $3,500 in award money, which will be used to fund more SIFE programs in the future.
In 2004, SIFE was the first runner-up in the semi-final round of the national competition, the team’s best finish to date. They hope to improve upon that finish this year. If they win the national competition, they move on to the world competition in Paris, France.
The students in SIFE work hard to develop and implement the programs and present them at the competitions.
“Being apart of the executive board of SIFE is like a part-time job for some people, but you get out of it what you put into it,” Singh said.
SIFE provides students more than just the opportunity to better the surrounding community. The OU students involved learn skills about business, presentations and communication that they can carry into future jobs, not to mention the numerous networking possibilities.
According to Singh, there are recruiters at the SIFE competitions and many students have received jobs by interviewing at the regional and national competitions in the past. Locally, SIFE works with a number of companies who are exposed to the students and their abilities before they graduate.
Naasshon Phifer, vice president of marketing for SIFE and a junior marketing major, decided to get involved after SIFE students came around to her classroom and recruited her.
“Being involved in SIFE and the projects is good for me and helps me in my major,” Phifer said. “It also can lead to great business opportunities.”
SIFE will prepare for the national competition with a dress rehersal on Monday, May 15 at 4:30 p.m. in the Elliott Hall auditorium, which is open to the campus community.
For more information about SIFE, call (248) 370-4166 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.