Ouachita Baptist University’s Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) team earned first place in the SIFE USA Regional Competition in Dallas earlier this month. As regional champions, the team was awarded a $1,500 prize and an invitation to compete at the SIFE National Exposition in Philadelphia on May 10-12. This was the first year OBU’s team has been crowned regional champions.
At the competition, SIFE teams give 24-minute presentations to a panel of judges comprised of business professionals of the SIFE sponsor companies from various states. These presentations are overviews of the projects that SIFE teams completed over the course of the year.
“Our students did some great projects,” said Dr. Bryan McKinney, dean of OBU’s Hickingbotham School of Business, “including work with kids in the Delta, ethics education in the elementary schools, environmental stewardship on OBU’s campus, etc.”
“In addition to the competition, there is an amazing career fair and opportunities to network with other SIFE students as well as business professionals,” said OBU’s SIFE co-president Kendra Pruitt, a senior business administration and finance major from Newport, Ark. “It’s a great experience.
“I am so honored to be in a leadership position among a tremendous group of peers,” Pruitt added. “They worked extremely hard to make our team successful, and I truly consider ourselves blessed by the success we’ve experienced. Everyone pitched in, we all worked well together and it paid off. I’m absolutely ecstatic about OBU SIFE’s victory. Our SIFE team is an awesome group of individuals.”
McKinney echoed Pruitt’s enthusiasm, saying, “SIFE is an internationally known and respected organization. To excel in this competition demonstrates what we’ve long known-our students can compete with the best undergraduate business students anywhere.
“I am exceptionally proud of our students and the faculty sponsors. Each one of them went above and beyond in their efforts,” he added. “I actually have high expectations for them at nationals. They’ve done great work throughout the year, and they are bright and articulate young men and women. I have every confidence that they will make everyone associated with OBU’s school of business quite proud.”
“I personally want to thank the awesome SIFE members, officers and faculty advisors, Dr. Jay Robbins and Dr. Jim Files,” Pruitt noted. “They work tirelessly to make our organization what it is.
“Also, our faculty, who has critiqued our presentation time after time, played a vital role. We greatly appreciate the Hickingbotham School of Business as well as Dean McKinney for their endless support.”
SIFE is a global organization with more than 15,000 members that, according to its website, www.sife.org, “mobilizes university students around the world to make a difference in their communities while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders.”
“To me, this is a perfect fit for what we are trying to accomplish in the Hickingbotham School of Business,” McKinney said. “We want to educate savvy business leaders who wish to make a positive difference in their communities.”
OBU’s SIFE welcomes students of all majors. “To join,” Pruitt said, “just come to our interest meetings that we have at the beginning of each semester and submit an application to determine your interests.”
In addition to Pruitt, members of the SIFE presentation team include Stephanie Carrell, a senior accounting major from Scurry, Texas; Lauren Faulkner, a senior accounting and business administration finance double-major from Royal, Ark.; David Hollis, a senior business administration management and finance double-major from Bryant, Ark., and Matt Rose, a senior accounting major from Little Rock, Ark. Umid Khasanov, a senior accounting and business administration finance double-major from Uzbekistan, served as the team’s media specialist.
Dr. Jay Robbins, Sam Walton Fellow and lecturer in business administration, serves as OBU’s SIFE faculty advisor. Dr. Jim Files, assistant professor of accounting, serves as the assistant faculty advisor.
Supporting members of SIFE include OBU SIFE co-president Brittany Norton as well as Isayas Bereket, Jessica Bruchan, Landon Carver, Ben Clardy, Eric Gravitt, Genevieve Horton, K.C. Knobloch, Chris Nisen, Greg Peterson and Calvin Reynolds.
By Brooke Showalter