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SIFE Students Reign for Fourth Consecutive Year as USA Regional Champions

Team now prepares for national exposition, competition in May
The Belmont University Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team returned to Nashville as SIFE USA Regional Champions for the fourth consecutive year after participating in competition in Atlanta on March 30. The event was one of the 17 SIFE USA Regional Competitions being held across the United States during March and April. SIFE is an international organization that mobilizes students around the world to make a difference in their communities while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders. The Belmont team will now advance to the SIFE USA National Exposition to be held May 10-12 in Philadelphia.
Dr. John Gonas, assistant professor of finance and the 2008 Tennessee Professor of the Year, serves as a Sam Walton Fellow responsible for advising Belmont’s SIFE students. “I am so blessed to be affiliated with these SIFE students,” Gonas said. “To me they embody the Belmont spirit – taking what they’re learning in the classroom and unconditionally serving those around us. Every day I’m amazed at how passionately they engage and strive to build meaningful and sustainable relationships with our community partners. I think this opportunity is a wonderful added dimension to the college experience and can’t wait to see what these students do after graduation.”


In addition to the Regional Championship, the Belmont team was selected as a finalist for the 2009 SIFE USA Topic Competition for six of their projects. The winners will be announced at the National Exposition. The topic areas and the companies sponsoring each topic competition are: Clorox Market Economics, Discover Financial Services/Robert Half International Success Skills, HSBC Financial Literacy, Waste Management Environmental Sustainability, Campbell’s/ Sealed Air Business Ethics and Program Sustainability.
Dr. Patrick Raines, dean of Belmont’s College of Business Administration, added, “The depth and impact of the projects this SIFE team has undertaken are truly remarkable. Dr. Gonas and our Sam Walton Fellows did a fantastic job coordinating all of the projects and working with the students. Every student did a fantastic job completing the projects and presenting their results. They received excellent comments from the business executives judging the competition.”
During the 2008-09 academic year, the Belmont University SIFE Team organized 10 projects on campus and in the community. They addressed issues including refugee resettlement, financial literacy, business ethics, success skills and environmental sustainability. Students spent more than 1,300 volunteer hours developing and completing their projects. In addition, they are involved in many other organizations and are part of four colleges across campus.
A few examples of the Belmont SIFE’s team projects are as follows:
• The students taught market economics to recently resettled Burundi refugees.
• A recent graduate of the Magdalene Thistle Farm’s program expressed a desire to become a nurse, so SIFE students prepared her for college entrance exams and academics into Nashville Tech’s Pre-Nursing Program.
• They wrote, illustrated and designed a children’s book titled Freddie’s Organic Farm, a first narrative, educating readers on the benefits of organic farms written in both English and Spanish
• They scripted, story boarded and filmed an instructional DVD in four languages to teach the recently resettled Burundi refugee’s how to open, manage and maintain a checking account.
• They hosted an Ethics Essay competition based on a topic discussed at the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate providing cash prizes for the top essayists and visited Metro Nashville Public Schools educating young students about voter issues prior to the elections.
SIFE is an international non-profit active on more than 1,400 university campuses in 48countries. SIFE Teams create economic opportunities in their communities by organizing outreach projects that focus on market economics, entrepreneurship, personal and financial success skills, sustainability and business ethics.