The Reinhardt University SIFE team was named a Regional Champion at the SIFE USA Regional Competition held Monday, April 2, 2012, in Atlanta, Ga. The event was one of 11 competitions being held across the United States this spring, and Reinhardt is now eligible to compete in the organization’s National Exposition in Kansas City, Missouri, from May 22 – 24. SIFE (Students In Free Enterprise) is an international non-profit organization that brings together the top leaders of today and tomorrow to create a better, more sustainable world through the positive power of business.
Reinhardt’s award-winning SIFE team includes standing, left to right Daniel Guererro, Jessica Pitts, Laura Waite, Qymane Brawner, Alexander Bryant, and Lauren Gates, and kneeling left, Elizabeth Williams. SIFE Team member Leslie Ratchford is not pictured. Alex Levy, SIFE chapter vice president and kneeling right, was in attendance to support the team.
Reinhardt’s award-winning team includes Alexander Bryant, Lauren Gates, and Leslie Ratchford of Canton, Ga.; Daniel Guererro of Woodstock, Ga.; Qymane Brawner of Flowery Branch, Ga.; Jessica Pitts of Marietta, Ga.; Laura Waite of Cumming, Ga.; and Elizabeth Williams of Lawrenceville, Ga.
The teammates are excited about their impressive showing. “Words can’t describe how I feel about being on a Regional Champion team,” said Brawner. “I feel great, but I also feel more anxious to get to Nationals and push on to the World Cup.”
Bryant was proud of his team’s accomplishments. “Our entire team put in a huge amount of hard work and really pulled together as a group to achieve this. None of us have ever done competition team before, so this was quite a feat! I’m so proud to have worked with all of them, it was definitely a group effort! ”
Four Successful Projects Which Directly Benefit Others
SIFE chapters use business concepts to develop community outreach projects that improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need. During the 2011-2012 year, the Reinhardt SIFE team conducted four successful projects. They collected 1, 645 pairs of shoes for Souls4Souls, a nonprofit which distributes donated shoes in impoverished areas and hands out used shoes to support micro-business efforts. They taught Chick-fil-A’s Core Essentials Program to students at Porter Academy in Roswell, Ga. They also raised $1500 to purchase a dairy cow and successfully secured a $1500 business grant from Sam’s Club for 15 sewing machines for Precious Pearls, a Christian nonprofit organization working to improve lives in Eldoret, a city in Kenya, Africa.
SIFE Experiences Help Students Perfect Their Skills
Graduating senior Lauren Gates said SIFE had helped her in several ways. “It has provided me with an opportunity to take the important business, communications, and marketing skills learned in our classes and apply them to the real world. Brainstorming ideas and accomplishing projects inside the classroom is one thing, but seeing your ideas develop into actions and actually produce profitable results is entirely different. Through our fundraising and awareness campaigns, especially for my own project, which involved support for the nonprofit Precious Pearls Children’s Outreach, we were able to put strategic marketing and advertising methods into practice and involve Reinhardt students, faculty and local businesses in our efforts. Working together as a team, we learned how to coordinate our efforts and resources in the most effective way and we were able to meet our $1,500 goal, which was a huge accomplishment,” Gates said.
Advisors Provide Guidance and Encouragement
Gates was also thankful for the guidance and encouragement provided by Reinhardt SIFE Sponsors Instructor of Business Tina Boosel, Assistant Professor of Business Dr. Kathy Hyatt, Director of Career Services Peggy Collins Feehery, Instructor of Business Bob Fain and Assistant Professor of Communication J. Brian O’Loughlin.
“Our SIFE advisors are incredible examples of the impact compassion can have,” she said. “I am certain that without their support and involvement, our team would not have been able to achieve a Regional Championship. No matter what, our advisors are always there to work alongside us and cheer us on. They never turned down a chance to support us, whether it was handing out flyers at a Homecoming basketball game or proofreading speeches.”
The advisors were very proud of the team’s accomplishments. “It has been a pleasure to work with these students,” Hyatt said.. “They worked hard, had many great projects, and delivered their presentation flawlessly. Our judges – all business professionals — seemed to be very impressed with our students and the presentation. We may be small in size when compared to other schools, but we are big in heart and wanted to help as many people as we could.”
Gates said the most important thing SIFE taught her was the importance of giving back to the community. “No matter how successful or busy we become, we should always try to be giving of our time, energy and resources, whenever we are able, so that we can provide for those in need and hopefully encourage someone, just as we were encouraged ourselves… We have to remember how blessed we are. We have shoes on our feet and the opportunity to attend school, two things that many of us take for granted. I believe that being involved in projects, such as helping to provide for children in Kenya…has reminded us just how much we have to be thankful for and hopefully inspired us to continue giving back to our community, and our world, in a positive way.”
Guererro said being part of SIFE “taught me that the small, but meaningful, things that one can do for others are sometimes the best gifts of all. It made me happy to see the impact that we had with the children at the school. And also to not take things for granted.” He also gained skills in time management and teamwork as the group put their presentation together and prepared to present it.
Pitts, one of the younger team members, said she learned a lot about herself and about how to work with others. “I learned that we, as a team, can make a difference in someone’s life. Also, I learned there are people who have more difficult situations that me,” she said.
Williams agreed, saying: “I am happy that the Reinhardt University SIFE team is being seen as a group of students that care about its surrounding community, because we do care. No matter how big or small the projects, maybe making a difference is what counts, and I am happy that those differences are appreciated. I want to make the Reinhardt family proud, as well as set an example to my peers that we have the ability to make to make the world a better place one step at a time.”
SIFE: a year-round activity which requires dedication and follow through
“Our students began work on the community service projects in late August and have worked throughout the year to achieve their project goals. Our main goal was to reach out and help others. We certainly aspired to do well at competition, but we have all agreed that reaching out to others in need would be our focus. The recognition for their efforts is just a great plus for our students. The pressure of presenting in front of 18 judges — corporate employees from businesses around the nation – gave our students an increased awareness of what to expect when they leave our campus. It’s truly a unique and empowering experience for our students,” Boosel said.
Founded in 1975, SIFE has active programs on more than 1,500 college and university campuses in 39 countries. Through projects that improve the lives of people worldwide, the university students, academic professionals and industry leaders who participate in SIFE are demonstrating that individuals with a knowledge and passion for business can be a powerful force for change.
The culmination of the SIFE program is an series of competitions that provide a forum for teams to present the results of their projects and to be evaluated by business leaders who serve as judges. Teams compete first at the regional and national levels, then at the international level when the national champion teams from each country meet at the SIFE World Cup.