SIFE Advance to Nationals, By Empowering Others

For the second consecutive year members of UC Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) are Philadelphia Regional Champions, and will advance to the National Exposition. SIFE has been on the Ursinus campus for a relatively short four years, but during that time the students have impacted the lives of others.

Senior Ty Wetzel of Coopersburg, Pa., the group’s president, explainsthat SIFE is not specifically a business or management group. It is an organization empowering diverse populations through the principles of free enterprise.

The SIFE team with Faculty Advisor Executive-in-Residence Stephen Bowers.

For example, “Students Today

Leaders Tomorrow,” a project at a middle school, targeted students who are from low income families whose members rarely continue on to higher education.

Members of the presentation team Ty Wetzel, Rebecca Kamm, Kaitlyn Myers, Darya Piatrova, Tim Jordan, and Janel Melnick (with A/V director Kevin Zufelt), will be presenting the results of their community outreach efforts in Minneapolis, MN, May 9 -12, with 175 of the best groups in the nation. The team hopes to advance to the World Championship in Kuala Lumpur.

UC Sife team with trophy


“The judges don’t necessarily look for the projects with the most’ wow’ factors,” Wetzel says, but “judge which teams most effectively empowered individuals teaching them how to raise their standard of living and making a difference in their lives.”  The presentation at the competitions covers projects affecting diverse ages and populations that were spearheaded by Ursinus SIFE students.

“Through being a part of SIFE, members learn the organizational, communication and networking skills needed to make each project possible,” Wetzel says. “It is not only for business majors, but for all students who will need these basic skills one learns by executing each project.”

UC SIFE considers the project, “Students Today, Leaders Tomorrow” their flagship program this year. They worked with students at Norristown’s Stewart Middle School to help them develop as leaders, demonstrating to them the importance of team work and communication.  Many of the Norristown pupils attended a college fair soon after the program, and declared they would take on greater leadership responsibilities.

“That project probably meant the most because you could see in the students that you made a change in their lives,” said SIFE Vice President Rebecca Kamm of St. John’s, Fla. “We went back two weeks later and the teachers said the students were still talking about it.”
The other projects included a pre-K recycling team, a program to prepare college students for the financial challenges of living on their own, and providing data management consultancy for the community organization; Amigos de ACLAMO, that assists Spanish-speaking residents. The students also designed and coordinated a program to build skills for women seeking employment, and a project to enhance communications for adults with developmental disabilities at the Pottstown, Pa., human services agency, KenCrest.

The first revenue-producing activity, an organic lunch, had the goal of demonstrating the benefits of moderation in eating and of organic food. Attendees received a booklet with recipes and information.
Kamm said she is also partial to the KenCrest project, because it was a different population. “People are usually hesitant to work with disabled adults,” she points out. “This population is sometimes pushed aside. But this was our second year, and it was gratifying. We focused on teaching communication and collaboration skills.”
The trip to Minneapolis will be funded with $1,000 from the regional prize, some Ursinus activity fee allocations, donations from SIFE alumni, and upcoming fundraising activities. SIFE is a world-wide organization that encourages students to teach and practice the principles of entrepreneurship, sustainability and life skills.

“When we won the regional competition, I was so nervous,” recalls Kamm. “When you hear your name it is the best feeling because the team accomplished something. But even better,” she adds, “is that we made an impact on people’s lives.” — W.G.