Kansas City Bound: SIFE Heads to Nationals

Kim Watkins, News Editor

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The Southwest Minnesota State University SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) team is on its way to Nationals after a big win at Regionals.
The team competed in Minneapolis at the March 24 competition, marking their ninth straight regional win. With this victory, the team will be heading to Kansas City, Miss. for the May 22-24 National competition.
The team has completed a total of 11 projects and has made a great effort to restore Faith’s Pen in Jamaica. Faith’s Pen has around 30 food vendors who sell traditional Jamaican food such as jerk chicken, roast fish, breadfruit and more. It is located in between Ocho Rios and Spanish Town, Jamaica.
Team members have traveled to Faith’s Pen many times this year to help with the building process as well as the marketing process.
Other projects included the Market Place. Around 600 middle-school kids  attended the day-long diversity exhibition with club members Rene Wegner and Justin Pitois as the project managers. Another project was the Coffee and Bookshelf Project in the alternative high school headed by club member Tessa Weber.
SIFE President Tanya Ashley, senior, led the team in the presentation at Regionals, with a focus on the many projects that the club has participated in during the past year.
Other team members included sophomore Rene Wegner, junior Ben Tiensvold, seniors Tessa Weber and Jasmine Ghorbani, and graduate student Anna Christensen. Laura Johnson was the primary writer for the presentation and was also the presentation coach.
“As Presentation Coordinator my main job is to put together a polished script that highlights what we have done over the past year.  The script  includes the details about our main projects, number of people we have impacted through our projects, how many hours we have spent on each project, as well as how each project meets the SIFE criterion,”
Johnson said.
The team not only claimed a Regional win, but also received the All-Star Award. The team was awarded this for being the best team in the Midwest.
“I am very proud of the team this year because they were faced with so many challenges and obstacles and they performed beyond their expectations,” team advisor Dr. John Gochenour said. “We expected to win regionals but to have the SIFE organization select us as the top team in the Midwest and present us with the All Star award was unexpected.”
Gochenouer states that the team is preparing and working hard and hoping for a big finish at Nationals.
“This has been the best year ever for SIFE at SMSU.  We are hoping that our success will bring in many new members so we can sustain this level of performance in the future,” Gochenouer said.