La Sierra team fine-tunes performance for Philly nationals

LSU SIFE team members Daniel Chinchay and Kimberly Miller practice their presentation parts while faculty fellows Heather Miller and Jodi Cahill listen.
LSU SIFE team members Daniel Chinchay and Kimberly Miller practice their presentation parts while faculty fellows Heather Miller and Jodi Cahill listen.

May 7, 2009
By Darla Martin Tucker

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( )“Daniel. You’re a very good speaker, but sometimes you get into a talk show host voice. Kimmy, be careful you don’t slip into a cadence. Robert. Engage more. Also, put Gs on the ends of your words,” advised Jodi Cahill, a faculty fellow of La Sierra University’s Students In Free Enterprise team.

A five-member contingent of the 38-member La Sierra SIFE team held a practice April 24 to polish their speaking and performance skills for an upcoming national competition in Philadelphia. It was among numerous rehearsals to come over the following weeks that often dragged into early morning hours as the students practiced their script and fine-tuned nuances of performance. Their goal - to deliver in professional form, and in 24 minutes or less, a memorized presentation choreographed with video to panels of the nation’s top business executives. The students’ multi-media show will highlight the SIFE team’s 13 local, national and international economic empowerment projects engaged in during the 2008-09 academic year.

The La Sierra University SIFE team will compete May 10-12 against 136 teams from universities and colleges around the country during the 2009 SIFE USA National Exposition. The event will be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

La Sierra University is an institution of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The La Sierra team is entering the competition as a six-time national/international champion and two-time world cup holder. The team won the U.S. championship four consecutive years between 1994 and 1997. The La Sierra team won again in 2002 and 2007, the same two years they grabbed the world cup title besting teams from around the world. In May 2007 the SIFE organization inducted La Sierra’s business school dean and key La Sierra SIFE team organizer, John Thomas, into the Students In Free Enterprise Hall of Fame.

When not working on various SIFE projects and preparing for competition, the team and its faculty fellows raise money through various avenues to cover expenses. SIFE does not receive university funding for its costs.

The La Sierra SIFE team qualified for this year’s national event by winning a Los Angeles regional competition this spring. Six other universities and colleges also grabbed the regional winner title and will compete again in Philadelphia. SIFE held regional competitions in 16 locations around the country.

Students In Free Enterprise, or SIFE, is a nonprofit education outreach organization. Through its teams at hundreds of colleges and universities around the world, SIFE strives to teach various populations market economics, business ethics and economic independence through entrepreneurship. The SIFE U.S. national winner will compete against other countries for the 2009 SIFE World Cup in Berlin, Germany this October.

La Sierra’s SIFE team is engaged in ongoing and new projects aimed at populations in Thailand, Ethiopia, the United States and other parts of the globe. These include the team’s environmental sustainability project called “Seeds” and an international business ethics survey administered through online survey software Zoomerang. The survey is designed to discover differences in ethical values and behaviors between various countries. The team will present results from the survey and use the data to modify or create new project curricula for teaching business ethics.

The team’s “Seeds” project aims to educate youngsters in grades K-12 about the impact of environmental actions on the market economy. Classrooms collect seed packets to be sent to countries around the world. A classroom curriculum covers environmental friendliness and how environmental actions can affect the market economy.

The La Sierra team is also continuing its efforts with an ongoing medical uniform manufacturing operation in Kalaala, Ethiopia and a local financial literacy program that teaches married or engaged couples and college juniors and seniors the ins and outs of personal financial management.

Cahill, faculty fellows Heather Miller and Andrew Truong along with La Sierra’s business school Dean John Thomas and others are guiding the presentation SIFE team members as they get ready to deliver a fast-paced talk in front of a video backdrop created by presentation team member Daniel Chinchay, a La Sierra senior management and marketing major. The overall production is essentially a multi-media annual report for judges in opening, semi-final and final rounds. The students will also provide the judges with a four-page report copy.

The judges are senior executives from some of the country’s largest companies. More than 80 judges registered to evaluate the competition’s Four-Year Division Final Round on May 12, including Doug Conant, president and chief executive officer of Campbell Soup Co., Bill Hickey, president and chief executive officer of Sealed Air Corp. and Shaun Kelly, vice chairman-tax, KPMG LLP.

“I’m feeling confident. This year we really hit the ground running,” said La Sierra SIFE presentation team member and team Chief Operating Officer Valerie Smith. She is a senior marketing major at La Sierra. “For me, I enjoy that fact that business is something we as Christians can use to help other people. It’s an amazing opportunity to stand up and say yes, as a Christian and as a Christian woman I’m able to use what I’m learning.” She described her past four years of work with SIFE as a real “confidence booster.”

“It’s pretty exciting. It definitely takes a lot of time but it’s definitely worth it,” Chinchay said. “We practice until 1 a.m. lots of nights and outside of that we spend time presenting to the mirror.”

“It’s cool to see the things we learn [in the classroom] can really make an impact and difference in somebody’s life,” he said. Looking forward to the national competition, Chinchay described himself as “more excited than nervous. It’s a conglomeration of different kinds of excitement. It’s fun. I love it.”



PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University
Riverside, California
951.785.2460 (voice)

  • Last update on  December 07, 2009