For the second year in a row, Belmont University’s Students in Free Enterprise Team (SIFE) won first place in the southeast regional SIFE competition at Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tenn., and $4,500 in prize money and is again invited to compete in the national competition in Dallas May 5-6.
The 29 students on Belmont’s SIFE team managed 16 high-impact community projects that served over 3,500 Nashville residents. Additionally, an anti-piracy commercial that was developed by team members aired as a public service announcement and was seen by more than two million viewers. Some of the community organizations and non-profits that were served by the SIFE team included: Thistle Farms, Our Kids, Conexion Americas, Nashville’s 100 Kings program and Catholic Charities.
In addition to the team’s victory at the regional competition, Belmont received three national awards for their essays describing the scope and impact of their projects. Belmont will compete against 19 SIFE teams selected in the categories of Market Economics, Business Ethics and Project Sustainability for recognition as the best SIFE team in each of the project areas. Last year’s project with Mama Turney’s Bakery was selected as the first runner-up in the nation for the entrepreneurship category.
“Our SIFE chapter was founded only last year, and we ended that year with a regional championship and ‘Rookie of the Year’ honors,” Dr. Pat Raines, Dean of the College of Business and professor of economics, said. “At this most recent competition, the team gave a flawless presentation that described real-world projects that significantly improved the lives of thousands of residents in our community. SIFE is adding value through the experiential learning opportunities it provides and the students are really enjoying themselves when they see the results of their work.”
Dr. John Gonas is the Sam Walton Fellow responsible for coordinating the projects and preparing the students for the regional and national competition. The team members that presented the SIFE projects to the panel of business executives that served as judges included: Katie Sluka (Hospitality Management), Anna Stergas (History), Renee Reyle (Political Science), Dan Ebinger (Finance) and Brian VanderMey (Entrepreneurship).
SIFE is an international, non-profit organization active on over 1,000 college and university campuses in more than 40 countries. SIFE students form teams that serve their communities by developing projects that take what they are learning in their classrooms about business and use it to solve real world problems for real people. The SIFE program concentrates on five areas: entrepreneurship, market economics, success skills, financial literacy and business ethics. Each year, the teams present their projects at competition where they are judged on creativity, innovation and effectiveness.