With the motto “a head for business, a heart for the world,” one of Texas A&M University’s most unique business-minded organizations encourages Aggies of all majors to stretch their creativity and better the community. Since its inception in late fall 2002, the A&M chapter of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) has promoted community/university interaction through a variety of service projects. On March 17, the Mays-affiliated Aggie team compiled their work from the past year for presentation at the SIFE regional competition in Dallas. The 14-member SIFE team faced competing teams from universities across the state and brought home a first place trophy. They were also rewarded with $1,500 that will help get them to the national competition in Chicago on May 13-15.

SIFE members
The Texas A&M SIFE team combines creativity and core business concepts to create projects that benefit the local community.

Their projects range from selling t-shirts to raise money for cancer research to teaching the basics of job searching and financial independence to prison inmates. In all of their work, the Aggie chapter of SIFE makes it their goal to develop sustainable projects in various fields. “We went for projects that touched our hearts. We didn’t look for just a quick result,” said Cynthia Billington, associate director of Mays’ Graduate Business Career Services, whose role as a Sam M. Walton Free Enterprise Fellow allows her to serve as faculty advisor for the Aggie SIFE team.

The projects were created to meet judging criteria based on six SIFE values: global economics, success skills, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, business ethic, and sustainability. The presentation of Texas A&M’s work in these areas given by SIFE members Jared Noynaert, Arielle Robinson, Ashley Nix, Danielle Monogue, and Kathryn Keith was just what the judges were looking for. The group’s strategic focus on “Aggie ethics” and their relationship to the characteristics embodied in SIFE’s world mission received great praise from the panel of 20 judges representing district managers from top companies.

So what’s next for the SIFE team? Under leadership from student co-chairs Mimi Wilfong and Kendall Owens, they continue to build on their projects in preparation for the SIFE national competition. “It’s just like a business. You have products that must continually be expanded,” said Billington. Aggie SIFE continues to make a name for itself through its two newest developing projects, Kids2College and Peer Counseling programs. Partnering with the Sallie Mae Foundation and the Texas A&M financial aid office, with Kids2College, SIFE hopes to promote the importance of a college education to sixth grade students. In addition, SIFE also plans to partner with the financial aid office in their Peer Counseling project, designed to increase financial knowledge in today’s college student.

Other projects created by SIFE include Aggie for a Day, which teaches elementary-aged children the importance of ethical responsibility through an all-day campus experience. Their International Pencil Project gives 3rd and 4th graders the opportunity to learn about global economics in a college classroom setting, and their work with Phoebe’s Home in Bryan, Texas, teaches domestic violence victims the basics of simple banking and personal finance.