By Shelley McClelland, as seen in FHU's student newspaper, The Bell Tower.
FHU SIFE (Students In Free Enterprise) achieved in 80 days what takes most university groups a year. This student-initiated group was planned last fall, recruited in January, and had its first official meeting on the 21st of January. A few months later, FHU SIFE participated in their first competition on April 13th in Rogers, Arkansas where they received first runner-up in their league.
Student member Alexandria Hamm explained how SIFE teams from all over the nation compete: “The competition gives SIFE teams an opportunity to come together to display the knowledge they have learned. The projects they have completed are presented to a panel of judges and to the other SIFE teams at the competition.” According to Hamm, the judging is scored based on the presentation by the criteria set aside by the SIFE organization. The winners then go on to the national competition.
Five different leagues competed and the top two in each league advance to the national competition. Placing first runner-up means FHU SIFE was only one place away from qualifying for the national competition.
FHU SIFE brought 10 students to represent our university’s SIFE group. The Student Vice President, Jacey Wesson, was present. He said the students were assigned certain roles during the presentation, which included three presenters, a technical assistant, and six members who administered the annual report.
One of five major projects was a recycling initiative. Presentation leader Brandon White explained that they realized the need for students on campus to recycle more than just paper in the student center. So, one of their objectives was to pass out blue bags to every single dorm along with a little sheet informing the students on what to recycle and what not to recycle. They gave the students an opportunity to recycle 100% of items they normally would have thrown away.
Student SIFE president, Kellie Flowers, described two other projects they have participated in this semester. They worked locally with the 4H Club at the Chester County Jr. High School. A financial literacy seminar for the 7th graders was held that taught the students how to write checks, balance their checkbooks, and make real world decisions. Additionally, they held a career seminar for the Hispanic community to help them learn interviewing skills and resume writing techniques.
Hibbett said: “It’s like the old adage: Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. It’s the same basic principle. We don’t just go out and say ‘here’s food, here’s medicine!’ We’re trying to teach life skills that will have a positive impact for the rest of their lives.”
Though this group may seem very business-oriented, it is not strictly for business majors. Hibbett explained: “I envision pulling together different majors across campus. This is not just a business club. This is an organization. We need PR people, media people, English people, and all kinds of disciplines involved. This is the real world; you don’t just get out and work with business people.”
Currently FHU SIFE has 34 active members, 21 core members who are involved in the projects. Compared to the other groups she has been in, Flowers said this group has much more meaning to her. Flowers said: “Most businesses know what it is and understand what we do and it is very easy to explain. It helps a lot of people in a lot of different ways and students can really get involved and learn.” Hibbett added: “When you go to competition, you get to see who you are going to be competing with for jobs in a few years. It can be intimidating but it does build confidence.”
If you would like to participate in SIFE next year or would like additional information, contact either of the faculty sponsors, Dr. Lee Hibbett or Mr. Mark Steiner, as well any of the student SIFE members, or visit www.sife.org.