March 28, 2008

Jennifer Tanner
Communications Specialist

VSU Sife Captures 14th Regional Title

VALDOSTA - The presenting team from Valdosta State University’s Students in Free Enterprise captured the 14th consecutive regional title at the championship held Thursday, March 20, in Atlanta.

The student team surpassed more than 40 others from Missouri to Virginia on its way to the top. In their presentation, presenting members Meg Garcia, Bernard McCombs, John Dillard, Judline Bernadin, Nikki Mitchell and Laquita Kelley highlighted the most influential of the 49 service programs that SIFE implemented over the past year, each of which made a meaningful and significant impact on the local community.

The student group of 152 active members put in close to 11,250 hours of learning service into programs for all age groups. The children of low-income housing developments, Ora Lee West and Hudson Docket, spent time doing homework and learning about business and technology with SIFE members twice a week. They also participated in the “Garden Patch,” a 5-acre lot in Adel owned by VSU faculty member Dr. Bill Buchanan, where children learn to plant, grow and sell vegetables to friends and neighbors. Participants walked away with entrepreneurial skills and a better understanding of health and wellness.

The group recently acquired a grant of $2,250, distributed over three years, for the purpose of educating VSU freshman and seniors about practical financial issues and credit management. Seminars featuring knowledgeable speakers were scheduled during March and incoming freshman will reap the benefits of this wisdom during summer orientation sessions.

During the 2007-2008 academic year, SIFE members have also started five student-run businesses. The most recent named “Fridays” opened Friday, March 28, at Southeast Elementary School. During preparation for opening, fifth graders, under the guidance of SIFE members, constructed a marketing/business plan for opening a retail store to sell school merchandise. Money raised will go toward savings accounts for the fifth grade students involved, which will teach them basic financial management skills.

The team isn’t finished yet. In addition to continuing its many projects through the remainder of the year, the presenting team and up to 40 members will travel to Chicago, Ill. May 13-15 to compete in the national championship. They will also attend the SIFE job fair, which provides a variety of opportunities for students, who attend as representatives of VSU and the local area.

“VSU SIFE team competitions represent Lowndes County and the City of Valdosta, gaining the area exposure to fortunate 500 companies,” Dr. Wayne Plumly said. “Many of the students also acquire internships and permanent jobs from corporations who sponsor SIFE.”

SIFE is open to all majors and offers community service, employment and internship opportunities. Those interested can join at any of the 3:30 p.m. Wednesday meetings at Pound Hall or visit the SIFE Web site, . For more information about SIFE’s international reach, visit .

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