VSU SIFE Ranks Third in the Nation

May 21, 2010

VSU SIFE Ranks Third in the Nation

VALDOSTA -- Valdosta State University's Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) placed third at the 2010 SIFE USA National Exposition held May 11-13 in Minneapolis, Minn.

During the 24-minute showcase, the presenting team shared highlights and accomplishments from the 42 projects and more than 9,000 service-learning hours completed by SIFE during the past year. VSU competed against teams from more than 600 college campuses. This year's 3rd place award marks the fourth "final four" finish in nine years.

SIFE co-founder Dr. Wayne Plumly said this year's event was especially challenging not only because of extremely talented competitors, but also because technical difficulties caused the supporting video to go blank just five minutes into the initial performance.

"The judges were impressed with their resilience and ability to continue on. We made it to the top 20 with no video," said Plumly, who was inducted into the SIFE Faculty Advisor Hall of Fame in 2008. "The top corporate leaders in the US now know that VSU means quality and performance."

Dressed in striking red VSU coats, the presenting team, which included Yun Jin Jang, Cameron Hoopes, Nikki Mitchell, Andre Carmack, Leslie Frye and Lauren Davis, went on to flawlessly complete two more performances. Plumly said one evaluator described the group as a "well-oiled machine" and both judges and audience members expressed admiration for the quality of the presentation and the effectiveness of the organization's service-learning programs.

"I have never been so proud of one group of students. They are the best we've ever had," said Hilary Gibbs, SIFE advisor and LCOBA development officer. "I stood in the back of the auditorium with tears in my eyes."

VSU Alumnus Thomas Newbern, who serves as chair for the group's Business Advisory Committee, was also honored during the exposition. Recognizing his significant contributions, SIFE USA chose Newbern as the 2010 Most Supportive Business Advisory Board Member of the Year -- a national honor bestowed annually upon one board member who has demonstrated outstanding support for his or her team. Read about Newbern's award here: http://www.valdosta.edu/news/releases/newbern.052110/ .

Almost 20 other SIFE members joined the team on its trip north. They supported their friends during competition and participated in a career fair, where students can network with executives and business leaders from more than fifty of the country's top companies. Plumly said many received offers for job interviews and internships.

Each year, SIFE students design educational outreach programs that foster success in the free enterprise system. Open to all majors, the nonprofit organization's more than 150 members work with local community groups and schools on projects that educate kids of all ages about entrepreneurship, nutrition, computers and other life skills.

During spring, teams from SIFE groups across the country battle at various levels to prove their efforts had the most impact in improving people's lives. Winners earn prize money, which funds the groups education endeavors. VSU's team captured its 16th consecutive regional championship -- and $2,500 in prize money -- on Tuesday, April 6, at the annual competition in Atlanta.

The VSU SIFE organization is part of an international organization located on more than 950 campuses nationwide and in 49 countries throughout the world. For more information, visit the SIFE website at www.vsusife.org . 

View the performance at http://www.sife.org/usacompetitions/expoVideos.asp . Call Gibbs at 229-259-5503 or visit www.vsusife.org for more information.