August 30, 2013
13-241

Thressea Boyd
Director of Communications

VSU’s SIFE celebrates 20 Years of Changing Lives

VALDOSTA—Twenty years ago, Dr. Wayne Plumly recruited nine students to begin Valdosta State University’s chapter of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE).

At the time, Plumly had no idea that this group would grow into an organization of more than 150 students, competing annually for national championships.

“I knew it had potential to become the largest student organization on campus given its mission,” said Plumly, dean of the Langdale College of Business Administration and a Sam Walton Fellow. “Many students come to VSU with a strong service background from their churches. SIFE was a continuation and expansion of that service ethic. Only in my dreams would I have ever thought that SIFE could have the impact that it has had on our students and community.”

Last year, SIFE's name was changed to Enactus to represent and help reaffirm the international organization’s long-standing commitment to using entrepreneurial action as a catalyst for progress.

With more than 10,000 hours of community service generated each year, the students have developed and implemented programs that benefit and serve children and adults locally and nationally. 

For Plumly, one of the most significant accomplishments is the SIFE Skills Success Center, located at the Ora Lee West Community Center.

“It took several years from start to finish. It is a unique venture between the private and public sectors,” said Plumly. “It has changed many children’s lives and will continue to do so for many years. It is a monument to caring and represents what can be accomplished when good people put their hearts together.” 

Marcus Shine, current VSU Enactus president, has worked on multiple projects including traveling to Kenya, South Africa to help women develop a sustainable business raising chickens. 

Shine, along four other Enactus students and an adviser, traveled to Kenya this summer to work with the women in developing a poultry business.

The VSU Enactus team created customized goals for the business, developed spreadsheets to maintain important business data, and taught the women how to implement the business practice.

The project not only provided valuable work skills for women in Kenya, but it also provided the Enactus students with an understanding of the significant position they have as global citizens.

Shine, a member of the regional and national presentation team, values the lessons he has learned from working with SIFE and Enactus the past three years.

“Through SIFE I have learned a lot. Before joining this organization, I was not aware of all the opportunities that were offered to college students,” said Shine, who is from Alma, Ga. “Through this organization, I increased my networking skills, public speaking, and I have learned what it means to truly be a leader in the business world and the community.” 

In 2012, Enactus members partnered locally with LAMP (Lowndes Associated Ministries to People) to create CleanSweep. The professional cleaning service allows formerly homeless residents of LAMP the opportunity to obtain job skills, leadership development, and entrepreneurial understanding while earning a living.

Hilary H. Gibbs, SIFE member from 1999—2001, now serves as one of VSU's Enactus advisers and works daily with the students and business partners.

“The focus for VSU SIFE still remains impacting our community, whether it is the children at Ora Lee West, the residents of LAMP, or the women’s group in Kenya, VSU SIFE is committed to making this world that we live in a better place, and always will be,” said Gibbs. “Once a student becomes involved in SIFE, it is contagious. I am not sure that feeling ever changes, no matter how old you are. VSU SIFE continues to change my life each day.”

To recognize VSU SIFE’s 20 years of service, a celebration dinner is scheduled Saturday, Sept. 14, in the Student Union Ballroom. The event begins at 6 p.m. with cocktails, followed by dinner and dancing at 7 p.m. Tickets for the black tie optional dinner are $50 per person and available online www.valdostastate.org/20yearsSIFEcelebration. For more information, contact Gibbs 229-259-5503 or hhgibbs@valdosta.edu