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ometimes the best classroom can be right outside the door. Texas A&M International University’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team have found that stepping outside the classroom and into the community S

through outreach classroom home.

can truly bring the

In a series community-based

of five completed projects and five

planned for completion this summer, the 8-member team tried to bring the SIFE

mission to life. That mission




members create economic opportunities in their communities by organizing outreach projects that teach market economics, entrepreneurship, personal financial success skills, and business ethics. The resulting projects are judged at competition on creativity, innovation and effectiveness.

Although only in its first year of organization, the TAMIU team traveled to Dallas in April, won Regional Champion honors at the SIFE USA Competition there and advanced to the national competition in Kansas City in May. There, the TAMIU team earned a national “Rookie of the Year” Award.

TAMIU SIFE Team members include





Ayala, vice president; Celina Arambula, secretary; Rosario Ibañez, treasurer; Grace Gabala, project coordinator; José Baez, public relations officer; and Juan de Dios Nieto, project coordinator. The Team’s academic advisor, Dr. J. Michael Patrick, TAMIU Regents Professor of Economics who accompanied the group, said Laredo and TAMIU were well-represented by the team. “This is tremendous national visibility for Laredo and TAMIU and truly showcases our students, our university and community. These students did an outstanding job in competing against programs that are repeat champions, many of whom have been participating in these competitions for over 20 years. Our TAMIU SIFE team did an incredible job and Laredo can be justly proud of them,” Dr. Patrick said. Throughout the year, the group has completed four projects, including the creation of a cost of living index for Laredo, participated in delivering a survey on the impact of the US-VISIT program on local entrepreneurs, offered middle school students insight into the US market system, conducted a workshop for TAMIU students on the wise use of credit cards, and conducted a leadership opinion, telephone survey gauging the qualities that the community expects for political candidates. It has already identified four new projects for the coming year. The SIFE group is advised and supported by members of its Business Advisory Board, including a number of local and regional business owners, operators and representatives. While the SIFE Team is looking forward to its next competitive opportunity to showcase its talents and dedication the SIFE lessons they’ve learned are already paying off. Team member Rosario Ibañez got some job leads at the SIFE Kansas City competition, interviewed and will shortly join AFLAC, Inc. “SIFE has taught me how not doing things for yourself is the key to success…Doing things for others is what truly takes you far, fulfills you and makes you happy,” she observes.


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