The University of the Ozarks’ Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team capped another successful year by placing second runner-up in its league at the 2012 SIFE USA National Exposition, held May 22-24 in Kansas City, Mo.
By placing in the national competition, the Ozarks team finished the year in the top 10 percent of all SIFE teams in the nation, according to the organization’s advisor, Dr. Rickey Casey.
“When you consider that there are more than 575 SIFE teams in the country and that most of them are at much larger universities, it’s pretty impressive to be among the top 10 percent,” Casey said. “It’s an indication of the hard work and dedication of our team this year, as well as the quality of the projects they took on.”
Hidenobu Kameya, a junior strategic communications major from Costa Rica who served as the media coordinator for SIFE this past year, said the Ozarks team competed well in the national competition that drew more than 3,500 students from throughout the country.
“We actually had our best presentation of the year, but we were in one of the toughest leagues,” Kameya said. “Our goal was to move to the second round, but we came up just a little bit short of that goal. But I’m very proud of the projects we did this year and the way the team performed at nationals.”
This year was the first time Ozarks had taken a SIFE team to the national competition since 2008.
“We got a lot of great experience that we, hopefully, can build on for next year,” said Kameya, who will be co-vice president of the organization next year. “We’re already planning projects for next year that will have an even greater impact on our community and beyond.”
The presentation team that competed for Ozarks in the national competition included Kelsi Ward of Bentonville, Ark.; Naima Lopez of Nicaragua; Eddwing Madrigal of Nicaragua; Fernando Valenzuela of Panama; Andrea Murillo of Nicaragua; Adriana Beltran of El Salvador; and Kameya. Eric Leon, assistant director of international studies, also serves as an advisor to the organization.
The U of O SIFE team, which has 48 active members, completed 28 community service projects that comprised more than 2,800 community hours in the past year. Their projects impacted more than 44,000 people in 11 countries.
Among the community-service projects completed by SIFE within the past year was Tailor Express, which helped jump-start a small sewing business in Clarksville; and Scoring Goals with Kicks, a program that facilitated the construction of Belize’s first solar irrigated soccer field. Another project, The Jam Cookie Factory, helped teach more than 1,000 elementary students in Central America the basics of market economics. SIFE also sponsored the Distinguished Speakers Series, which brought speakers from throughout the region to the campus.
SIFE is an international non-profit organization that works with leaders in business and higher education to mobilize university students to make a difference in their communities while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders. Participating students form teams on their university campuses and apply business concepts to develop outreach projects that improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need. An annual series of regional and national competitions provides a forum for teams to present the results of their projects, and to be evaluated by business leaders serving as judges. National champion teams advance to the prestigious SIFE World Cup. In addition to the community aspect of the program, SIFE’s leadership and career initiatives create meaningful opportunities for learning and exchange among the participants as well as the placement of students and alumni with companies in search of emerging talent.