New Student Org SIFE Named “Rookie of The Year”

Published on April 12, 2011

In Existence for Just Months, Students Make
a Splash at Regional Championships in Dallas

UH SIFE president Glenda Renderos addresses a group of students from Lee High School who visited the campus last fall through one of the group’s service projects.

In its first year of existence, a student organization from the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business has been recognized as one of the best in the nation.

Students in Free Enterprise, or SIFE, is a global organization with the goal of creating a better, more sustainable world through the use of business skills. The UH Bauer chapter of SIFE, established last fall through the GENB2301 “Connecting Bauer to Business” course, was named “Rookie of the Year” and placed second recently at the SIFE Regional Championships in Dallas.

The competition, held in March, consisted of teams from Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. UH SIFE competed in a league with five other schools, including some former national champions.

Students were expected to showcase various projects that they have been working on and the results of each. The team with the best projects, results and overall presentation gets the chance to advance to nationals.

“It was such an amazing accomplishment for our student to make it to the regional championships after only being in existence a few short months,” said Jamie Belinne, assistant dean for the Rockwell Career Center.

“The things they accomplished in those few months were nothing short of miraculous,” she added. “Other teams at competition had been around for years and working at nearly the level of our students.”

Preparations for the competition involved writing out scripts, creating PowerPoint presentations and reports and dress rehearsals, with the help of the Belinne and her team at the Rockwell Career Center. All the effort paid off at the competition.

“Being the first year to have a SIFE team at UH and our first team competing made it hard to prepare because we didn’t know exactly how to prepare correctly,” said Glenda Renderos, president of the college’s chapter of SIFE. “The preparation for us took about a week because we had so much to do and so little time.”

“The regional competition was an amazing experience,” she added. “It was so well organized, very professional, and a great opportunity to network. It’s a very competitive atmosphere, but at the same time very friendly.”

UH SIFE students initiated three projects last fall that involved local high schools. The first was “Leaders of the Future,” a project at Lee High School that involved the entire senior class and was focused on exposing the students to college life in hopes of generating interest in college as a future option.

Through the project, SIFE brought more than 300 Lee students to campus, with 61 of those gaining admission to UH.

“Some of the most important results are the number of students who never thought about going to college before we came into their lives, and others that didn’t even know that financial aid existed to help pay for their tuition,” Renderos said.

The second program, “Destination Higher Education,” involved Pasadena High School and was also focused on educating young students about college. This was essential due to forced budget cuts forcing the school to cut their college program.

“A group of students would go every Friday during students’ lunch to help fill out FASFA forms and college applications,” Renderos said. “They also hosted a university trip in which 60-70 percent of the students had never seen a college campus.”

The third program, “Building Entrepreneurs After School Together (BEAST),” at Sterling High School was focused on teaching high school students about starting a business. Under the supervision of SIFE members, the Sterling students created and managed a small after-school business.

“At least 10-15 students stay after and work for the small business,” Renderos said. “At the end, the profit they have made is rewarded to them. The students have to go through an application and résumé hiring process, and if they fail to meet job expectations, they can also get fired.”

The organization is backed by an advisory board made up of members from Walmart, PepsiCo, KPMG, HISD, Capital One Bank and Cintas. The student group has received a generous amount of grants and donations from their advisory board and is looking to take full advantage of that support to continue to progress and grow as a student group.

“We plan on growing and spreading throughout UH’ manpower is what we lack to help the community better. We plan to continue and finalize our current projects, and begin new projects to empower the Houston community,” Renderos said.

The UH SIFE team, from left faculty advisor Jamie Belinne, Kelsey Alkire, faculty advisor Mariella De Alba, Glenda Renderos, Lizzeth Martinez and Vik Patek, celebrated their win at the Regional Championships in Dallas.

By Ryan Tang