APU SIFE Team Advances to Nationals

by Nina Karim '10

In March, Azusa Pacific University’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team took first against 18 other local universities competing at the regional competition in Orange County. The team advances to compete with over 200 universities at the national competition May 11-13 in Minneapolis.

SIFE is a business-oriented program for those with a “head for business and a heart for the world.” It enables university students to apply business principles to create outreach developments that work to recover and progress the standard of living for local families in poverty as well as those living in the poor conditions of third-world countries.

“I feel so proud to be on a SIFE team that is truly passionate about the projects we have done,” said SIFE presentation team member Kirsten Garrett. “It was an honor to present these projects which not only fulfill the SIFE competition requirements, but even more fulfill what God calls us to as disciples.”

The program provides an opportunity for college students to integrate their interpersonal and group skills by applying the concepts they learn in the classroom. Students work on developing different business and community projects focusing on environmental sustainability, ethics, success skills, market economics, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship. The organization empowers university students worldwide to make a difference in their society, while developing skills to become socially responsible business leaders.

Led by advisor Dan Kipley, individual groups are formed in the Strategic Marketing Management class in APU's School of Business and Management, where they are given specific criteria to follow. The projects are yearlong and the finale is a celebration of the community impact. Although only 6 members actually present the work, 77 members helped to develop the projects. The presentation team included: Kirsten Garrett, Marie Harlan, Vickie Ramirez, Kasaundra Domen, Amanda Crandall, McKenzie Feitler, and alternate Linda Brown. Presidents David Linder and Matt Koskela supervised the team while MBA student David Pichler acted as presentation coordinator.

“We’re completely honored and proud to have such an impact in our community and abroad,” said SIFE president David Linder. “From saving electricity to saving lives, the impact of our projects is something we can always be proud of.”

This year, Azusa Pacific’s specific projects included Seeds of Success, one of the newer projects that focuses on solving the problem of homelessness in California. Project Green works with APU’s Office of Environmental Stewardship to research and implement different sustainability projects. Teaching, previously Credit 201, spent the year teaching elementary, high school, and college classes on various topics such as ethics, market economics, success skills, and financial literacy. End of It created a website to document real responses to worldwide problems and focuses on working towards the end of it, “it” being whatever someone dreams of fighting against. Finally, Vodcasts which operates independently from other projects, designs and produces videos for college students in order for them to visualize results.

With the entire SIFE class working behind the scenes to develop the projects, the presentation team had more than enough demonstrated accomplishments from the five projects to bring to the table. The panel of judges is allotted time for questioning at the end of the presentation where they are able to delve into what APU has really been doing to further the communities and regions they help to build up.

“One of the biggest challenges we face is our low budget in comparison to other schools; however, our effectiveness is much higher in dollars to people. This is our biggest testament to the value we believe to be in our education we receive at APU,” said SIFE presenter Victoria Ramirez. “Money is fleeting but knowledge is sustaining. With this concept, we have pushed through difficulties to achieve success by utilizing our greatest asset...our minds!”

The culmination of this program includes an opportunity to present the project results at a regional competition to board members and CEOs of Fortune 500 corporations. Leading companies around the world support the community outreach projects, and more than 30,000 students participate in the program representing 1,500 universities in more than 45 countries.