Texas State SIFE takes community outreach to international stage
By Catherine Harper
Across the world, Students of Free Enterprise (SIFE) at Texas State is making an impact. In competitions and outreach projects that span the globe from Juarez, Mexico, to Malaysia, the Texas State SIFE team is gaining international recognition through the fundamentals of free enterprise.
As one of the largest chapters in the nation of an international nonprofit organization, the Texas State SIFE team works with leaders in business and higher education to teach free enterprise and benefit individuals, communities and countries.
According to Vicki West, a faculty member in the McCoy College of Business and the Texas State SIFE advisor, students become leaders through outreach projects that incorporate principles they have learned as well as lessons gained through experience.
“Through our outreach projects, we involve the community in the free enterprise system, providing the students with an opportunity to teach others what they have learned while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders,” West says.
The team also competes in regional and national championships in which they present the results of their year-long outreach projects. Under West’s leadership, the team won first in the world in 2000, and has placed among the top in the nation every year since, winning national championships in 2006, 2007 and 2011.
In 2011, the team’s community outreach endeavors expanded across the state with projects including creating housing for migrant workers in West Texas and helping local high school students fund rain barrels for class gardens.
According to West, SIFE’s outreach projects are beneficial to both the communities they are helping and the students that are involved.
“[We help others] through empowerment – first by empowering ourselves, then by choosing projects that empower people in need,” West says.
In October 2011, Texas State SIFE will compete in the SIFE World Cup in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, which will take the national championship of the team to an entirely new plane.
According to West, being involved in SIFE requires a tremendous amount of effort from students to both the team projects and the communities that they serve. This effort goes a long way.
“Because of the work involved, students develop excellent leadership, communication and organizational skills on an international level,” West says. “SIFE’s leadership and career initiatives create meaningful opportunities for learning and exchange.”
SIFE was originally created in 1975 in Springfield, Missouri, and has since expanded all over the world. The organization is financially supported by some of the world’s leading corporations including Walmart, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft Foods, 3M, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Nestlé, Cintas, Heinz, Proctor & Gamble, and AT&T.
To view their 2011 presentation and learn more about SIFE, visit www.business.txstate.edu/sife.