Monday, July 27, 2009
Organization gives SBA students experience, confidence to pursue goalsBrennon Edwards doesn’t hold back when he describes the impact participating in the SBA’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) organization has had on his life.
“It was the best experience I had in college by far,” says Edwards, who spent a year and a half as the chapter president before graduating this spring with a degree in public administration.
SIFE is an international organization comprising more than 35,000 students representing 1,400 colleges and universities in 41 countries, chapter adviser Wayne Blizman says.
Like OU’s other student organizations, SIFE strives to give students opportunities for growth they wouldn’t necessarily receive in the classroom. SIFE members participate in community outreach activities that prepare them for a future as socially responsible business leaders.
In early April, the SBA’s SIFE team took first place in its league at the 2009 SIFE USA Regional Competition in Chicago. The OU chapter was one of 40 teams to deliver presentations on their community outreach projects before a judging panel of business leaders.
Among the projects spotlighted by the OU team was Bridge to Life, which sends SIFE members to Pontiac high school campuses for one hour of after-school tutoring, followed by an hour of presentations on financial literacy and entrepreneurship. These presentations have been very well received, Blizman says. “When you see high school students turn around from failing to excelling, it’s a pretty rewarding experience.”
Additional outreach projects include Achieving Profitable Opportunities and Life Lessons in Organizations (APOLLO), which led SIFE members to create and manage a business that generated more than $14,000 in profits. The chapter also runs an entrepreneurship camp for disadvantaged teens and a speaker series featuring community entrepreneurs, among other efforts.
The team’s projects were evaluated on seven criteria: success skills, entrepreneurship, sustainability, financial literacy, market economics, business ethics and environmental sustainability.
After winning its ninth regional victory in a row, the SIFE team went on to the national SIFE competition, held May 11 in Philadelphia. While they did not win, the OU team members performed admirably, Edwards says. “I was more than proud of them. I think they will place in the nationals next year.”
When Edwards joined SIFE, he was hoping to prepare himself to launch a business one day with his twin brother, Alonzo. Now, he says, there’s no doubt in his mind they will realize their goal. “The experiences I had in SIFE gave me the confidence to do that.”
By Flori Meeks