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SIFE wins regionals, prepares for national competition

By , Reporter  |  Tuesday, April 5, 2011 5:12 PM

The St. Thomas Students in Free Enterprise team won its second consecutive regional championship March 30 at the SIFE USA Regional Competition in Minneapolis.

The four-year-old team will attend the national championship May 10-12 in Minneapolis. If the team wins, it will participate in the World Cup Oct. 3-5 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“This is a big success,” SIFE treasurer Madeline Kapler said. “It takes teams usually about 15 years to even win regionals and progress to nationals. [It’s a] huge honor that we’ll be able to continue on.”

SIFE is a non-profit organization that enables students to become leaders in their communities and make a difference by applying business techniques to improve the standard of living and quality of life for people in need.

Kapler said the team’s main project was sending students in January to Tulum, Mexico, where they helped local entrepreneurs create marketing plans and use social media for the Retiro Maya Resort.

“They did phenomenal work and they enjoyed it,” Kapler said.

She said another “huge” project was the Sam’s Club Sustainability Challenge, which gave the team a grant to conduct energy audits on local businesses to help them become more sustainable. The SIFE team worked with Feed My Starving Children.

“I think overall they’re going to be able to send out over 17,750 additional meals because of the money they are able to save,” Kapler said. “We’re so proud of everything we’ve been doing.”

Senior Kylie Gayan, SIFE president, said the regional competition is based on “how many people you are able to empower, but then it is also about giving a very professional presentation.”

“We put together the presentation with the whole team,” Gayan said. “It is all memorization, so we definitely had to practice a lot.”

SIFE adviser Betsy Lofgren said, “We will make St. Thomas proud. There is a level of expectation now, and there is no reason why we won’t win it.”

Lofgren said one of the perks of being in SIFE is the opportunity to network with executives from across the country.

“A lot of companies are hiring for internships and full-time positions,” Gayan said.

SIFE doesn’t just provide these opportunities to business students. The team is working with engineering students to create an efficient heater and with English students to write grants. Kapler said the team is “always looking for different people.”

“The companies are looking for other people, too, besides business majors,” Kapler said. “They are looking for English majors, journalism majors … they’re looking for marketing majors and anything.”

Projects

SIFE members paired with the following organizations:

* Sam’s Club Sustainability Challenge
* Selby Avenue Youth Business Club
* London Career Development
* Campbell’s Let’s Can Hunger Challenge
* Burundi Engineering Initiative
* Mexico Consulting
* Women’s Economic Empowerment

Carly Samuelson, Hannah Anderson and Kelsey Broadwell contributed to this report.

Alex Keil can be reached at amkeil@stthomas.edu.

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