LSU SIFE Team Ranked #3 in Entire United States
May 12, 2009
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( www.lasierra.edu )La Sierra University’s Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) team finished as second-runner up at the 2009 SIFE USA National Exposition finals held in Philadelphia, Penn. May 10-12. SIFE leaders announced Flagler College the champions, and La Sierra the third place finisher, during an awards ceremony that concluded the three-day event. Drury University took second.
La Sierra competed against Flagler College, St. Augustine, Fla., Drury University, Springfield, Mo., and John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark. in the final round. Teams from 137 colleges and universities qualified to compete in the four-year division at the U.S. championship event during a series of 16 regional competitions held throughout the United States in the spring. More than 640 colleges and universities in the United States sponsored SIFE teams this year.
“I wasn’t sure what was more nerve-wracking, being up there [in final competitions] or waiting for the results,” Daniel Chinchay, one of La Sierra’s five presentation team members said after the team received its second-runner-up trophy. “It was definitely a good experience. Third out of 640 is not bad.”
Chinchay and La Sierra SIFE students Robert Anguiano, Kimberly Miller, Valerie Smith and Louia McDonald gave it their all through two days of opening round, semi-final and final competitions. They delivered a memorized presentation choreographed with a video backdrop to panels of senior level corporate executives who served as judges during SIFE nationals. The judges asked questions of the presenters following each competitive event.
Following the final awards ceremony, the SIFE team celebrated at a restaurant in downtown Philadelphia. John Thomas, dean of La Sierra’s business school and a key founder of the LSU SIFE team, congratulated the students on a job well done in placing among the top four teams in the United States. “I believe every one of you is a true champion. Every one of you kids has a goal to reach and we’ll help you get there,” Thomas said. “You’re fantastic. We love you guys. We’re so proud of you. We won today and that’s how I look at it. Pride and honor all the way.”
“This shows what we’re capable of,” LSU SIFE President Steven Salcido said to the group, citing La Sierra’s continued placement in the final competition compared to some of its top competitors who failed to move past opening rounds this year. “We’ll be back next year. Final four!” Salcido exclaimed.
Chinchay’s parents, Hugo and Eunice Chinchay, drove to the SIFE national event from Staunton, Va. to watch their son compete. Hugo Chinchay serves as trust services and stewardship director for the Potomac Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. The Chinchays moved to Virginia in January from Southern California where Daniel attended Redlands and Loma Linda academies. The elder Chinchay is a 2000 and 2002 graduate of La Sierra, respectively earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business.
“La Sierra’s presentation, on a scale of one to 10, is a 9.9. The rest are below five in my opinion,” Hugo Chinchay said following opening round competitions. Since Daniel began attending La Sierra, Hugo and Eunice have watched their son mature and develop intellectually and spiritually, they said. “He’s been given the right opportunities to make his qualities grow,” Eunice said.
“One of the things that makes me happier than anything is that he found that spiritual growth,” added Hugo.
“We’re very, very proud to see how well they did. It would have been great to see them win, but they took it well. They really are winners,” said Tim Foss, father of LSU SIFE team project director and presentation team director Ryan Foss.
“[La Sierra] has given him opportunities he couldn’t receive at any other school. We’ve got him in one of the top schools, probably the top school for Ryan,” Foss said.
This is the third consecutive trip to the SIFE final four round for La Sierra University. The team won the 2007 title in Dallas, Texas. La Sierra University has won the SIFE USA National championship an unprecedented six times, with previous wins coming in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2002 and 2007. La Sierra University SIFE also won the World Cup in 2002 in Amsterdam, and 2007 in New York City.
Senior executives from some of the country’s largest companies evaluated the presentations throughout the U.S. competition. More than 80 corporate leaders registered to judge the competition’s Four-Year Division Final Round on May 12, including Doug Conant, president and chief executive officer of Campbell Soup Co. and SIFE’s outgoing board chairman, Bill Hickey, president and chief executive officer of Sealed Air Corp. and Shaun Kelly, vice chairman-tax, KPMG LLP. Joel Conner, Bellisio Foods chairman and chief executive officer, and a SIFE competition judge, will succeed Conant as SIFE board chairman.
The SIFE competition in Philadelphia included talks by corporate leaders from Campbell Soup Co., Sara Lee, Kraft Foods, Bellisio Foods, business services conglomerate KPMG, Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. KPMG verified judges’ voting results for each competitive event.
Highlighting this year’s U.S. competition for La Sierra was the induction of Heather Miller, LSU SIFE Faculty Fellow (advisor), into the organization’s Students In Free Enterprise Hall of Fame. She’s the second LSU representative inducted by the international business organization. In May 2007 SIFE inducted Thomas, La Sierra’s business school dean.
Additionally, La Sierra's SIFE team walked away from opening ceremonies with two awards in Individual Topics competitions. The team placed first and won $3,000 in the business ethics category, besting rivals Flagler College and East Central University in Ada, Okla. They also took second place and $2,000 in the environmental sustainability category. Syracuse University and Oregon State University won first and third places.
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. LSU 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.
Students In Free Enterprise is a nonprofit education outreach organization based in Springfield, Mo. Through its teams at more than 1,300 colleges and universities around the world, SIFE strives to teach various populations market economics, business ethics and economic independence through entrepreneurship.
La Sierra’s SIFE team engaged in a number of ongoing and new projects aimed at populations in Thailand, Ethiopia, the United States and other parts of the globe. This past school year, the 38-member team logged 3,532 hours of service impacting 5,231 individuals.
La Sierra’s new SIFE projects during 2008-09 include a business course taught to 29 villagers last summer in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Five La Sierra SIFE students instructed the villagers in basic business concepts. Those include accounting, marketing, writing a business plan, business ethics and the importance of defining a company’s strengths, weaknesses, external market opportunities and threats. The Thailand project resulted in three completed business plans and inspired potentially 20-plus entrepreneurs.
Other new projects 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 group is collecting data in the areas of sales, auditing, ethnocentricity vs. geocentricity, respect for organizational structure and environmental ethics. Thus far, more than 200 respondents in at least six countries have taken the survey. The team will present results from the survey and use the data to modify or create new project curricula for teaching business ethics.
The business ethics survey derives from the SIFE team’s new ethics project, “Ethics Goes Global.” The project impacted 1,262 junior high, high school and college students and community members through a curriculum that teaches various cultures’ approaches to 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 and other projects in Kalaala, Ethiopia. In Kalaala, the team is working with Dr. Fekede Gemechu, a Business Advisory Board member, to develop a sustainable plan for increasing the availability of clean water and for maximizing agricultural development in Kalaala. With a $20,000 grant from Versacare, the team this year purchased two water tanks and towers, a drip irrigation system and two flourmills for the villagers. The water tanks and towers triple the amount of water available in Kalaala. The irrigation system conserves the amount of water delivered to plants. The flourmills make ground flour much more accessible to the villagers. Team members and LSU Provost Warren Trenchard recently traveled to Kalaala to help villagers install the new equipment.
This year’s LSU SIFE work included a local financial literacy program called “Get-A-Clue” that teaches married or engaged couples and college juniors and seniors the ins and outs of personal financial management. A coloring book for kids teaches concepts of saving, borrowing, interest and what happens if you don’t pay someone back on time.
The team also continued its 10-year “Welfare-to-Work” program in Riverside County through which team members teach low-income individuals how to start childcare businesses.
“For me, I enjoy that fact that business is something we as Christians can use to help other people,” said Smith, La Sierra SIFE presentation team member and team chief operating officer. She is a senior marketing major at La Sierra. “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.”
Said Chinchay, a La Sierra senior management and marketing major, “It’s cool to see the things we learn [in the classroom] can really make an impact and difference in somebody’s life.”
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University