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SIFE Provides Opportunity and Service

Though only a few months old, the fledgling SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) team enthusiastically embraces the mission of its parent organization. Founded in 1975, SIFE (which has more than 14,000 chapters worldwide) challenges students to take their classroom knowledge and use it to better their communities. And that's just what the Berea chapter is doing by helping elderly taypayers prepare their returns and Estill County Middle School students prepare business plans for small ventures that may fund class and school activities.

Kelvin Dillard, SIFE president, introduces President Dr. Larry Shinn to visitors

Senior Givenson Piard, Berea's SIFE treasurer and a business administration major who hails from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, says the organization is unique in that “it calls upon the active participation of its members to make a real difference in their community. The leadership opportunities are limitless and members of SIFE are very privileged to be able to make such wonderful experiences.”

The BC SIFE team has more than 40 members and is led by three advisers: Mullinax and Mark Roselli, economics and business professors, and Alane Poff, associate controller for financial affairs. Student leaders are Piard; Ilyas Asanov, vice president; Kimberly Bacon, secretary; Kelvin Dillard, president; and Kateryna Polozkova, program manager.BC’s SIFE team replaces the Business and Economics Association, which was initiated last spring by three students (now SIFE members) who, according to adviser Rachel Mullinax, wanted to transfer their classroom learning to real life experiences, gain networking opportunities and provide outreach projects. “The SIFE organization is a perfect match for Berea College because they both are about service, learning and labor,” explains Mullinax.

On Jan. 22, four accomplished professionals visited SIFE membersand offered their knowledge toward SIFE projects. Jenni Buckner, manager of Accounting Careers and Development of the Kentucky Society of CPAs; Nancy Graham, business and marketing consultant for Kentucky Department of Education; Jan Mester, president of Kentucky Council on Economic Education and Angie Sinclair, a SIFE national program director helped SIFE members work on various projects and brainstorm new ones. “Because we are a new organization, our resources are limited," says Dillard, a junior business administration major from Hopkinsville, Ky. "It’s been amazing the amount of resources they have. They’ve proposed things we hadn’t thought of... such as expanding to work with the community more.”

But it's not all work and no play for SIFE members. According to Sinclair, U.S. undergraduate teams attend regional competitions. There, the teams submit an annual report and an audio-visual presentation about their projects. Winners advance to a national competition where the top team there competes in the World Cup Event. Judges are representatives of the hundreds of companies that support SIFE through donations. These include industry giants such as Procter & Gamble, Ford Motor Co., Coca-Cola, General Electric, Walgreens, Wal-Mart and Shell Oil Co.

Sinclair says judges are always looking for new talent for their companies and SIFE members have special access to a virtual career fair on the organization’s Web site. Mullinax, who previously worked with SIFE at College of the Ozarks, sees how the organization helps students develop teamwork, leadership and communication skills.

Piard believes SIFE “gives members a taste of the real life in an attempt to complement what they have learned in textbooks. They (students) get to interact with recruiters in the corporate world and, by doing so, to stand a chance of landing where they’ve never thought they could be on the corporate ladder of America.”

For more information, visit Berea's SIFE Web site or SIFE's Worldwide Information page.

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