The Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) at The University of Texas Pan American accomplished high honors last week (May 10-12), ranking in the top 10 at the national SIFE competition held in Kansas City.
UTPA, which competed against more than 300 universities from around the country, marked its eighth year in a row in the top 10.
The Students in Free Enterprise is an organization that promotes business and free enterprise in the public schools and community.
Dr. Gilbert Cardenas, professor of economics and SIFE advisor at UTPA, attributes the students’ success to the many community services offered by the organization.
“They are successful because we combine business with community service, and corporate America likes what they are doing,’’ Cardenas said. “Through community services, our students develop their communication skills as well as get a first-hand knowledge of the business world.”
Cardenas was also honored at the SIFE conference with the Sam W. Walton Fellow of the Year Award, honoring his 10-year dedication to the SIFE organization.
“It was a great honor and a great surprise when I received this award,” Cardenas said. “It was really nice because it was my own students that nominated me for the award, which tells me they like what I’m doing.”
According to Cardenas, more than 500 SIFE chapters have been formed this year in major colleges and universities throughout the nation.
SIFE at UTPA has been very active in the community. Cardenas said SIFE has assisted the McAllen Chamber of Commerce with several endeavors, including the Mexico Expo and McAllen Health Fair.
Each year, SIFE honors business leaders in the community for their outstanding business acumen. Among those honored this year were Mike Allen of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation and Alonzo Cantu of Cantu Construction.
SIFE has also been active in the public schools. Most recently, more than 400 students from 10 high schools, including the McAllen and Edinburg school districts, attended the Global Business Summit where they were treated to the challenges of the global economy.
At the local elementary schools, SIFE students from UTPA have been helping with Gov. George W. Bush’s Reading Goals 2000. SIFE members have gone to Headstart centers and elementary schools to read to children on the classics, the value of money and communications.
According to Cardenas, SIFE at UTPA was also instrumental in the formation of a new SIFE team at South Texas Community College. Last year, SIFE formed and adopted three new teams in Monterrey, Mexico, at Monterrey Tech, Universidad Monterrey.
SIFE has also been active in Las Milpas. For the last five years, SIFE has adopted 20 colonia families and has tutored the children in math, science and reading on a weekly basis.