SAN MARCOS, TEXAS — The terms “Globalization” and “International Marketplace” have widened their scope, especially when noting the recent House approval of opening trade relations with China.
But, as the U.S. takes a momentous step toward expanding its role in the global marketplace, we may begin to ask the question, who are the leaders of the next economic revolution?
Well, we may find several of those leaders at Southwest Texas State University.
The 55-member SWT Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team secured its position as the number one free enterprise college organization in the world this past week.
May 21-23, SWT’s SIFE team competed against 158 teams worldwide to become the number one college international team. From an initial field of 700 college teams in 15 countries, SWT’s SIFE team made it into the Final Four, competing with last year’s champions, UCLA-Chico, Pittsburgh State University and the College of the Southwest.
The annual competition celebrates thousands of community outreach projects completed by SIFE teams on more than 700 college campuses nationwide and around the world. International competition featured more than 2,000 students participating from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Krygyzstan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, the United States and Uzbekistan.
The students, who were judged by a panel of more than 700 of the nation’s business and community leaders, are judged on how well they teach others the principles of free enterprise through the projects they develop and complete during the year.
“For SIFE, winning regionals (in early May) was just a stepping stone,” said Cheryl Adams, president of this year’s SWT SIFE team and presenter at the national competition. “It was my unspoken goal this year to make it to the Final Four.”
SWT SIFE also won first place for best use of mass media and first place in the Success 2000 Special Competition.
SWT SIFE completed 132 community sessions in 132 different classrooms, reaching more than 9,000 children and adults. Its faculty advisors include two Sam Walton Free Enterprise Fellows, who were named for their involvement with the SWT SIFE team, associate professor of marketing Vicki West and business professor James Bell.
“Our mission is to promote the principles of free enterprise,” Adams said. “We are about teaching others how they can make it on their own. We want people to know if you work hard, you will be rewarded, and free enterprise is about helping yourself so that you help the community at large.”
To complete this mission, SWT SIFE members participated in such outreach projects as puppet shows on supply and demand, profit and loans and collateral for kindergartners through third graders. Members developed a coloring book that emphasizes personal responsibility and business ethics, written in both English and Spanish for elementary students and provided computer technical knowledge to boys at the Texason Juvenile Boot Camp. An adult outreach project included providing counseling services on resume writing and interviewing to women at the Hays Caldwell Women’s Shelter.
“At SWT, we break down our mission into four categories, k-3, 4-6, high school and adults,” Adams explained. “For the younger kids and even the adult programs, it is very simplistic, but the idea is to set a good foundation about working hard, earning money and becoming self-sufficient.”
For students on the SWT SIFE team, participation is a means of gaining real world experience while teaching others the value of free enterprise.
Adams said, “While mergers and acquisitions are occurring every day in the business world, we (SIFE members) are merging business and education.”