USF SIFE Wins Regional Championship
By Barbara Melendez
TAMPA, Fla. (April 15, 2010) – A year of inventive and impactful educational projects, hard work and an outstanding presentation in Atlanta and University of South Florida Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) adds another honor to a growing list. USF SIFE was named a Regional Champion at the SIFE USA Regional Competition – for the third time in five years.
The next stop is Minneapolis May 11 – 13 for the SIFE USA National Competition. The USF SIFE team will be up against 200 other schools presenting the results of their projects to a panel of judges from SIFE headquarters’ sponsor companies. here the field gets whittled down to twenty and then four over the three days as the best SIFE teams advance.
“At our last national competition appearance, we just missed advancing to the second round as we were named first runner up. Our goal next month is to advance to the second round of competition and all the way to the top,” said Dameion Lovett, assistant director of University Scholarships and Financial Aid Services and SIFE advisor.
SIFE is a global organization with chapters at over 1,500 college campuses in over 40 countries. USF’s SIFE chapter is only five years old and in that short time has achieved what few new groups can, national recognition. For the 25-member volunteer USF SIFE team there is a lot to be gained from membership. There is the satisfaction gained in helping people, there is the camaraderie in working with like-minded people and more.
“The ‘selling point’ of getting students involved in SIFE is the chance to have the networking opportunities at the regional and national competitions,” Lovett said. “Since the competitions are at the end of the school year, it is often hard to keep students involved to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But when we get to the competition, it all makes sense to them and they are excited about going to the national competition where everything is amplified. The challenge we now face is raising the funds to send as many members of the team to the competition as possible.”
Just as finances are uppermost in just about everyone’s minds, SIFE takes on the mission of educating the community on issues of market economics, financial literacy, success skills, entrepreneurship, business ethics and environmental sustainability – issues they are learning about as well.
One such project involved taking part in the Sam’s Club Environmental Sustainability Challenge competition.
“The premise behind this project was to assist two local businesses transition into becoming more sustainable in their business practices and overall mindset,” said Victoria Lynn Reeves, SIFE associate director and project leader.
First came the formation of a partnership between four members of the SIFE team, Reeves, executive director Eric Rosenthal, a board of directors member, Ferdian Jap, who is also the former president of the USF SIFE chapter, along with Donna Hughes, assistant regional manager of Sam’s Club store #6401.
“Through this project, our team was able to connect with two local businesses in order to assess the business owner’s knowledge and utilization of environmentally friendly products and suggest the implementation of future products and services that would make their businesses more sustainable and less detrimental to our environment,” Reeves said.
The two businesses were The Tampa Pitcher Show, owned by Wayne and Cindy Valenti and the Riviera Restaurant, owned by Costas Melissouro.
“At the Tampa Pitcher Show, our team purchased and installed a new exhaust fan for the kitchen, which now has the ability to close completely when not in use, reducing the loss of energy, essential weather stripping on two exit doors, three programmable thermostats and motion sensor switches in the restrooms,” said Reeves. “At the Riviera Restaurant, our team purchased and installed weather stripping for the double door entry and two programmable thermostats, and we assembled a five-tier shelving unit for the kitchen in order to eliminate hot spots in the kitchen, while providing more storage space.”
SIFE will monitor and track each business’ electricity consumption using an online analysis program and provide plaques acknowledging the owners’ energy conservation practices.
“We hope the owners will display the plaques to bring awareness to their customers and hopefully promote the importance of possessing an environmental mindset,” Reeves said.
This project is now in competition within the southeastern region and if chosen will be considered for national honors at the Sam’s Club home office in Bentonville, Ark.office in Bentonville, Arkansas.
The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.