Business Students Win ‘Rookie of the Year’ Award in National Competition

May 15, 2007

Saint Anselm SIFE TeamSaint Anselm College’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team was named “Rookie of the Year” by the SIFE National Exposition on May 6 in Dallas, Texas. Saint Anselm College was one of three SIFE teams to ascend to nationals from 80 new teams founded in the United States this year.

“Their presentation was very well received and they had numerous compliments from judges and other SIFE fellows for all they had accomplished in less than a year” said Tom Fitzpatrick, chapter advisor and professor of business and economics.

The team of business students won a berth in the competition after taking top honors at the Boston SIFE USA Regional Competition in March.

Saint Anselm seniors Katie Douglas, of Rochester, N.H., and Nick Anzalone, of Jackson, N.J., teamed up with juniors Brittany Gorman, of Clovis, Calif., and Regina Silva, of Bow, N.H., to present the Saint Anselm chapter’s first-year projects to a panel of six judges against 165 SIFE teams.

Gorman said of the competition, “More than any other country, ours supports free enterprise and has reaped its benefits…and it was exciting to be with other students like ourselves who care about spreading the values of good business.” Silva and Douglas, both of New Hampshire, agreed that they didn’t realize how large SIFE was until the awards ceremony on May 7, “it’s not just a competition either,” said Douglas, “but it’s about making a difference, and what students are doing is just amazing.”

The team’s projects included teaching Merrimack High School freshmen the value of business ethics and a free market and donating money to Coffee Kids. The Saint Anselm students also sponsored a symposium on corporate social responsibility which included speakers from Green Mountain Coffee and Turner Construction. “Going into it we didn’t know what to expect, we didn’t think we’d win, but it was great exposure to other groups and projects and to what Saint Anselm’s SIFE can aspire to be,” said Douglas.

SIFE is a non-profit organization on more than 1,400 college and university campuses worldwide.SIFE members merge public service with capitalism in projects they develop in the community.

“Before I went on this trip I thought that business students should employ some of what they learn in the classroom to the community to help people. We did that this year in our local community, and it felt good. But I realize now that SIFE is a tool to do more than that, we can use the force and power of a free market, to elevate the world’s standard of living. Being part of an organization that makes so many real world changes is something we are really proud of,” said Gorman.

—Laura Rossi

A Diary of a Saint Anselm SIFEr From the National Exposition
by Brittany Gorman ‘08

Sunday, May 6, 2007
Today was an experience in travel! As the other SIFE members and I made it with little time to spare to the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, we met our advisor, Professor Fitzpatrick. After a short flight to D.C., we grabbed a snack and got on our next flight to Texas with very little hassle… so we thought.Half way through our three-hour flight to Texas, we get an announcement over the intercom as follows: “This is your captain speaking. We are feeling some severe vibrations on the front end of the plane, and we are not sure we can make it all the way to Texas. We are going to try and make it back to D.C.”. That was it! That was all the pilot had to say — he did not even try and re-assure us.

Meanwhile, Katie Douglas is up in the front of the plane having a silent heart-attack (she and her family are deathly afraid to fly). She thinks to herself (after taking five finals in three days) that at least if the plane goes down over the jagged mountains below us, at least I will be able to sleep. As it happens we did make it back to D.C. alive, plane intact, though our captain again came over the speaker telling us how surprised he was that we did — due to the severity of the vibrations! (What does that mean?).

When we arrived at the Dallas airport, we were greeted with a large sign hanging above the baggage claim. “Wow, that’s nice to greet all 130 teams like that,” but out of the corner of my eye I see my parents hiding nearly out of sight… giggling. My parents had flown from California to surprise me and the SIFE team in Texas! Oh, and the airline lost Nick’s bag with all of suits in it…what could be worse?

After haggling for the lowest taxi fair to the hotel, we made it to the beautiful Hyatt hotel. At this point, my dad is unloading the trunk of the car when another car hits and pins him between two cars. It was frightening for a second, then hysterical… because who gets hit by a car in a parking lot. The Saint Anselm SIFE team I guess.

The hotel was swarming with fellow SIFEers from other schools, all in pressed dress pants and embroidered polos. Literally, we were the only team in sweatpants and flip-flops.

The first event of the National Exposition was the opening ceremonies where each school came in carrying a sign with their school’s name on it and carrying the state flag. We were the only school from New Hampshire, so we represented the state well. It was a truly special moment when, with all of our country’s flags of state waving, we sang Proud to be an American.

More than any other country, ours supports free enterprise and has reaped its benefits… and it was exciting to be with other students like our selves who care about spreading the values of good business. There was a really indescribable feeling in the air that night, with nearly 4,000 excited and energetic people!

Our team had a lot to do on our project, so we spent our first night in Texas revamping our presentation and trying to memorize our lines. Time after time something would go wrong with our multi-media PowerPoint presentation, but by about 2 a.m. we had reached a point where we felt confident enough to try to sleep for a couple of hours, and hope for the best at the presentation in the morning.

Monday, May 7, 2007
Today was the day of our presentation. We got up at 6 a.m. to practice our lines, make any changes to the presentation, and get ready. Nick still has not gotten his lost luggage from the airlines, so that meant he had to wear our advisor’s suit! At least it fit him, and you couldn’t really tell it wasn’t his.

We packed all of our supplies and A/V equipment and took a bus to the convention center from the hotel. After enjoying a free breakfast from all the venders at the conference, we decided to go into an upstairs corner and practice our presentation. As we go to set up all the equipment on the projection cart, we realize we are missing a cord for our speakers. How could we have not checked that?

Frantic, two of us try to make friends with another team and borrow their speakers, while the other two run to the location where we rented our cart from, just to see if there is any chance they have an extra A/V cord with the same voltage as we need — this is a long shot. After maneuvering a large cart filled with thousands of dollars in equipment through a huge convention center we make it to A/V center. It turns out that the A/V people have one extra cord, that happens to fit, and we nearly died we were so happy. This little detour meant we didn’t get to practice our presentation one last time.

We giggle a little over some funny inside jokes, get a good-luck wish from Professor Fitzpatrick, stand up straight, take a deep breath, and enter into the conference room with confidence. We had 10 minutes to set-up our presentation, and hand out our annual reports, and greet the judges. This took us about four minutes, so the other six minutes we stood in front of the judges and spectators just waiting to present in awkward silence.

The timekeeper finally announces that we may begin our presentation… so we present our year’s achievements. There were a few stumbles, including the fact I litterly could not get the word “presentation” out of my mouth, but after we finished, we all looked at each other and grinned. We were also asked several questions from the judging panel — all of which we answered as perfectly as I think we could, and we got to share our enthusiasm with the people in the room. The presentation we had been preparing for months was over just like that, and it was a big relief!

We got so many congrats from our judges and other spectators, that we felt really good about our performance. I literally couldn’t believe it was all over.We spent the rest of the afternoon at the huge career fair, collecting applications, giving out resumes, “power networking” (its like speed-dating, only for a job), and gathering as much as the free promotion goodies we could get our hands on. I think I took home 20 pounds of free stuff. This was a true highlight of the whole trip.

We were astounded how eager recruiters were to get the cream of the crop of young business people to recruit for their company. The connections one can make at a career fair like this are invaluable, and we all realized that. We also got to meet other SIFE teams, who looked very professional and serious in their black business suits, but they were just fun-loving college kids like us.

Later in the evening, we went back to the huge conference center for the awards ceremony, where the opening ceremonies were held the day before. As a first-year team, with only six members, we knew that going to the nationals was a great honor, but we were still nervous about how well we stack up against the other teams.

It turns out this year that 80 new SIFE teams in the U.S. were born. Of those 80 only three deserved to make it to the National Competition, one of those teams being our Saint Anselm Chapter, which is truly remarkable. When our team got called up on stage to receive the Rookie of the Year award I felt such huge amount of pride and accomplishment for not only my teammates and myself, but for our school.

To be recognized by others for actions that are so important to you is a tremendous feeling. We got a beautiful trophy, stood on stage in front of nearly 4,000 people, and had our image projected onto huge jumbo screens. It was a moment I know none of us will ever forget!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Today is the last day of the SIFE National Exposition. We finally got to get some sleep last night, and see some of the sights in Dallas. It is such a bustling metropolis, not exactly what we had pictured (which was tumbling tumbleweeds!) Last night Nick ate fried crocodile, the girls had fried pickles, and Katie got a sweet cowgirl hat.

Today we got to watch the final round of competition for the four-year division school. The teams presented in the large auditorium again, and all were invited to come and watch. They were presenting for something like 150 judges, which is not any easy task. The schools we watched were truly amazing, and let our team know just how much more work we need to do.

Schools had opened their own clothing companies, traveled to third-world countries and installed water filtration systems, which they funded with the production and selling of their own water brand here in the U.S. Other teams contracted with famous engineers to develop and implement homes in Darfar that were made from only 90 percent earth (dirt) and 10 percent cement. These homes resist bullets; can withstand rain, lightening, and other weather conditions. They are cool in the summer and hot in the winter.

Others taught entrepreneur classes and raised funds for their classmates to purchase business licenses to get their products launched. Others offered refugees simple financial literacy and business instruction that is helpful for being employed in the U.S. The students at these top schools were so motivated and determined. But more than that, they made their ideas come to life on a large, global scale, and they really were changing the world.

Students In Free Enterprise was something I believed in before I went on this trip. I thought that business students should employ some of what they learn in the classroom to the community and help some people in the prpcess. We did that this year in our local community, and it felt good. But I realize now that SIFE is a tool to do more than that. One of the students from the winning school said that that SIFE was part of a “student social movement.” What an exciting way to look at this. American college kids, with all of our knowledge, can do more with what we learn than just get A’s on our finals. We can use the force and power of a free market, and elevate the standards of the world. Being part of an organization that makes so many real world changes is something that makes us Saint Anselm SIFEers really proud.

Later that night, we went out to a lovely dinner in a rotating hotel at the top of the wing of the hotel. The all glass walls allowed us to see a 360-degree view of Dallas at night, atop all of the other buildings. We had great food and had time to reflect with Professor Fitzpatrick about the impact the trip made on us. Plus we had some amazing food! We met some other SIFE students and spent the night chatting with them, and had a really good time.

Tomorrow we head back to Saint Anselm more motivated than ever about SIFE. Our team made an incredible bond and laughed more than I think in any other fours days of our life. We got a national perspective of what SIFE means, and how they intend to make a difference. The PR people made the SIFE slogan “Changing the World,” which we all laughed at before… it seems a little presumptuous doesn’t it? But we saw first hand, that SIFE members are really changing the world, and it’s a pretty cool thing to have participated.

P.S. Nick still hasn’t gotten his lost baggage.


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