The University of Texas-Pan American Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team is one of more than 180 SIFE teams across that nation that advanced to the 2004 USA National Competition after winning at the regional competition held in Dallas late this spring.
Approximately 500 teams competed with only the top two teams advancing. The other team advancing out of the Dallas regional competition was The University of Texas at Austin. SIFE teams were judged on how they teach people of all ages the principles of free enterprise. The UTPA SIFE team made presentations on several projects the team developed and executed during the year that made a difference in the Rio Grande Valley, Mexico and Latin America.
Competing on the winning team were Alex Castillo, Isaac Segredo, Marci Solano, Roel Cantu Jr., Noe Estrada, Reynaldo Campa, Raul Cabrera, Javier Martinez, Jesus D. Gonzalez, Jaime Garza, Laura Ericka Garcia, Carina Garza, Eder Davila, Carla Gomez, Janet Hernandez, and Rocio Trevino.
Last year's UTPA SIFE team placed third nationally and was mentioned on the back of the Kellogg Company's popular Frosted Flakes and Corn Pops cereal boxes for several months across the U.S.
Sam Diaz, assistant director of the Office of New Student and Visitor Services, serves as the UTPA SIFE team coordinator and was named a Sam Walton Free Enterprise Fellow for the SIFE team while at the regional competition.
Created in 1990 by the Wal-Mart Foundation, the fellowship is named for Samuel More Walton, founder and chairman of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Considered some of the nation's top teachers of free enterprise, Sam Walton Fellows train and motivate more than 15,000 SIFE team members every year.
Diaz said the team's display of unity had a lot to do with their win. He said when their equipment failed and they were unable to present their powerpoint visual, the team was the first in years of competing that had to rely totally on oral presentations of their projects.
"Even with this disadvantage, our team never gave up. The judges commented that they could see the teamwork and the passion come out in their speeches," Diaz said.
Hosted by the Kansas City business community, the national competition will be held May 23-25. It will also feature a two-day Career Opportunities Fair offering interviews for jobs and internships with representatives from more than 200 companies. The winning team in the four-year college division at the national competition, sponsored by Radio Shack, will then move on to represent the U.S. at the 2004 SIFE World Cup held in Barcelona, Spain and will compete against national champions from more than 25 other countries.
Founded in 1975 and active on more than 1,600 college and university campuses in 40 countries, SIFE is a non-profit organization that works in partnership with business and higher education to provide students the opportunity to make a difference and to develop leadership, teamwork and communication skills through learning, practicing and teaching the principles of free enterprise.