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April 23, 2004
Vol. 45 No. 21

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Student club attends national competition

Susquehanna Students in Free Enterprise will be competing for a national championship in May.

SIFE will travel to Kansas City, Mo. to compete against approximately 180 colleges and universities at the SIFE USA National Exposition from May 22 to 25.

The team qualified for nationals by winning the regional championship on April 2 in Los Angeles.

"We never dreamed of being a regional winner, being our first year," Steve Wilkerson, SIFE adviser and instructor of management, said.

Not only was the team chosen as regional champions, but they were named Rookie of the Year out of 39 teams that competed at the event.

"They [the judges] announced, 'This rarely happens: our regional champ is our Rookie of the Year,'" Wilkerson said. "I knew it was us. The kids were sitting there, and I was yelling 'Yes!'"

"It took a while to set in," SIFE President, junior Michael Ozlanski, said. "We all realized it the next day."

The team was judged based on a presentation of its community service and educational projects, and on how well those projects teach others about the principles of free enterprise, entrepreneurship and business ethics, according to the SIFE national Web site.

Wilkerson said that the judges are business executives and community leaders from all over the country.

The judges also told the Susquehanna team that they have accomplished more in the past year than most teams do in five years.

"We were shocked," junior Tamara Erney, SIFE secretary, said. "We didn't realize how far we had come."

"Our goal is to be Rookie of the Year at nationals," Wilkerson said. "I think we have a good chance."

According to Wilkerson, the students worked very hard to prepare for the competition, meeting every week to work on their projects and practice for the presentation.

"The week before the presentation, we were meeting a couple of hours each day," Ozlanski said.

SIFE is also heavily involved with the community. They completed eight community service projects this year, Wilkerson said.

One such project was with the Cornerstone Community Center in Mt. Carmel.

Cornerstone, which has a food and clothes pantry and a homeless shelter, is in need of funds. During the holiday season, they lack sufficient food supplies to provide for the community.

The SIFE team organized a 50/50 raffle, which raised over $700 for Cornerstone and a food drive, which helped them provide to the community for the holidays.

"A lot of our projects were education-based," Erney said.

Erney said that the SIFE team concentrated on working with low-income families and children to teach them skills with money.

The members of the team that traveled to Los Angeles are senior Stephanie Eden; junior Michael Ozlanski; sophomores Stephanie Bergstresser, Justin Cushing, Tamara Erney, Diane Flook and Cheryl Smith; and freshmen Angela Dippold, Bridgett Krider,and Alexis Napoli.

Junior Travis Powell is also an active SIFE member, but was unable to compete this semester because he is studying abroad. Powell will be attending nationals.

The team is looking to expand.

"We are always looking for new members, with the understanding that it is time consuming," Wilkerson said. "It is like taking another class, but it's a lot of fun."

The winning team in the four-year college division will represent the United States at the SIFE World Cup in Barcelona, Spain in September, Wilkerson said.

At the World Cup, the USA National Champion will compete against national champions from more than 25 countries, according to a SIFE press release.

SIFE is a non-profit organization active on more than 1,600 college and university campuses in 40 countries, the release said.

SIFE works in partnership with business and higher education to provide students with the opportunity to make a difference and develop leadership, teamwork and communication skills through learning, practicing and teaching the principles of free enterprise, according to the release. For more information, visit www.SIFE.org.

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