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Mary Embry
Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design

Jennifer Piurek
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Last modified: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

IU Bloomington's SIFE group wins regional competition, moves on to nationals with fair trade project

April 13, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Competing against 57 other universities and colleges, Indiana University Bloomington's Students in Free Enterprise group won a regional competition in Chicago April 8 that will take the group to the SIFE National Exposition in May.

SIFE Regionals 2010

IU's SIFE team will go on to nationals in May.

Print-Quality Photo

The group won $1,500 as one of 20 regional finalists recognized in the area of best entrepreneurship and $1,000 for its part in the Fair Trade Bloomington project.

The regional competition is one of 12 SIFE USA Regional Competitions that take place across the United States each spring.

The presentation team was composed of the following students: Danielle Thoe (Plymouth, Mich.); Marci Reid (Brookville, Ind.); David Gunkel (Bloomington, Ind.); Albert Cheung (Indianapolis); Elana Borchers (Monroe, N.Y.); Maya Menon (St. Charles, Ill.) and Linda Xiong (Carmel, Ind.).

Xiong said SIFE has helped her to grow into a more well-rounded student and leader. "I have made unforgettable connections with small and large organizations, IU peers and faculty members that will help me in creating a socially responsible career path," Xiong said.

Reid said preparing for the competition was intense, but that moving on to nationals made the preparation well worth the effort. "Being at competition made me realize what SIFE is capable of -- and the impact we can have on communities," said Reid.

IU Bloomington's SIFE chapter is one of more than 500 such programs in the United States. Participating students use business concepts to develop community outreach projects that improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need. During the 2009-2010 academic year, IU's SIFE team organized seven projects in the Bloomington community, collectively contributing more than 2,000 volunteer hours.

The SIFE program culminates each spring with a series of competitions at which teams present the results of their projects before a panel of business leaders who serve as judges. After regional and national competitions, national champion teams from each country meet at the SIFE World Cup.

Cheung said working on SIFE's College Credit Counseling and Ethics Intervention program has given him experience teaching peers the importance of financial literacy. "The competition was also a great experience because it is the first time I have ever had to work so hard on a speech that I was not going to receive an academic grade for," he said.

"The team this year took their presentation to the next level, skillfully conveying the hard work and dedication SIFE has had over the past five years to building community projects that have measured impact," said Mary Embry, faculty advisor for SIFE and a lecturer in IU's Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design (Retail Design Merchandising Group). "This recognition is well deserved, as these students consistently go the extra mile to contribute to community and also build themselves into leaders and professionals."

The Fair Trade Bloomington project was incorporated in 2007 with the goal of educating people about fair trade practices and increasing the availability of fairly traded products in Bloomington. The fair trade movement is a system of exchange that helps producers of goods in developing countries to receive reasonable wages and to develop sustainable market practices.

In addition to other activities, Fair Trade Bloomington has:

  • Increased consumer education through sponsorship of fair trade lectures, presentations and programs
  • Collaborated with SIFE students through service-learning activities
  • Increased fair trade sales efforts of local retailers
  • Partnered with Global Gifts in Indianapolis to expand fair trade sales through the 2009 opening of a Global Gifts store in Bloomington

About Students in Free Enterprise

SIFE is an international nonprofit organization active on more than 1,400 university campuses in 48 countries. SIFE teams create economic opportunities in their communities by organizing outreach projects that focus on market economics, entrepreneurship, personal financial success skills and business ethics.

For more information about the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design, see