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Mary Embry
Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design

Last modified: Wednesday, March 30, 2011

IU Bloomington SIFE team wins regional competition, prepares for nationals

March 30, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Competing against 48 other universities and colleges, Indiana University Bloomington's Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) group won a regional competition in Chicago, March 28. The group will advance to the SIFE National Exposition, May 10-12, in Minneapolis.

SIFE is an international nonprofit organization active on more than 1,400 university campuses in 48 countries. SIFE teams consider the relevant economic, social and environmental factors, and empower people in need by applying business and economic concepts and an entrepreneurial approach.

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

Members of IU's winning presentation team are, in the photo from the left: Melanie White (Cincinnati), Danielle Thoe (Plymouth, Mich.); Chad Edgington (Fishers, Ind.); Eric Nelson (Munster, Ind.); Laine Zeph (Carmel, Ind.); Linda Xiong (Carmel, Ind.); and Albert Cheung (Indianapolis).

"The SIFE competition was completely different than I expected," said Edgington, an apparal merchandising major. "It's amazing to see how each team took the projects in different directions. I am very excited about nationals -- and even more excited about further developing future projects."

Cheung, an apparal merchandising major, worked on the Sam's Club Sustainability Challenge. He said he liked being able to suggest ways the company can apply more environmentally sustainable practices while still saving money. "SIFE gives students the opportunity (to work) on projects that interest them and show real results," he said.

Nelson, president of the IU Bloomington SIFE chapter, said his education at the Kelley School of Business and involvement with SIFE have given him the experience he needs to empower groups in need. "Presenting in front of a crowded room and a panel of 12 business professionals not only gave us strong feedback on how we can improve projects but provided some of the best public speaking opportunities anyone can get," he said.

"The team worked so well together to put together an engaging presentation," 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 achievement recognizes that the judges this year found our projects fulfilled the criteria of empowering people and improving quality of life and standard of living for those in Bloomington, but in also far reaches of the globe."

White, a student in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, agreed. "Competition solidified the power of SIFE and the positive effect we all continue to have on our communities," she said.

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 six projects in the Bloomington community, collectively contributing more than 2,000 volunteer hours.

This year, the IU Bloomington chapter was recognized as part of SIFE's 4.0 club, composed of teams recognized as achieving long-term sustainability to improve the quality of life and standard of living for others.

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.

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