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SIFE 3rd in nation

by Karen N. Mirikitani, staff editor

Named “the giant killers” by Students In Free Enterprise officers at the national competition held May 13-15 in Kansas City, Missouri, the HPU chapter of SIFE placed third of more than 120 colleges and universities from around the United States.

“This is the first time HPU has gone to the Nationals,” said Jason Kim, SIFE president, adding that “the team was excited and ready for action!”

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The HPU SIFE team was comprised of Guiherme Albieri from Brazil, Julie Blake from California, Carrie Ginnane from New York, Benedikt Goetz from Italy, Jason Kim and Nga Nguyen from Hawai‘i, and Saw Ghee Hong from Malaysia.” We definitely have a very international group,” said advisor Ken Schoolland, associate professor of economics.

Team members Michelle de la Cruz and Kelly Harmon, both also from Hawai‘i, were graduating and unable to participate in the competition. “The team did exceptionally well in the Pacific Regional Competition, and their enthusiasm showed in their [national] presentation,” said Schoolland. “We decided to leave two days early so we could polish our presentation,” he added.

SIFE, a non-profit organization, was founded by Sam M. Walton, CEO of Wal-Mart Stores. The organization has student run chapters at more than 1,000 college and university campuses in more than 20 countries. A collaborative effort of education and business, more than 170 top corporate executives participate as SIFE directors (and served as judges at the national competition). By learning and teaching the principles of market economics, entrepreneurship, business ethics and personal finances, SIFE members gain a greater appreciation and passion for changing the world. SIFE teams around the world have made significant impacts globally by improving the quality of life and raising living standards in many nations.

The Kansas City competition began with a Rally of Colleges. “The energy was electrifying and could be felt by everyone present,” said SIFE presenter Saw Ghee Hong. Michael Merriman, SIFE chairperson, gave a motivational speech encouraging students to give more than 100 percent to their presentations.
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This was followed by the keynote address, delivered by Irwin Jacobs, chairperson of Genmar Holdings. Jacobs reflected on his own experiences and how and why he got to where he is [at the top] of his career. He said, “Hard work, common sense, passion for what you do, and get up when you fail.” He also shared his ingredients for success. “Be successfully creative, see adversity is an opportunity and failure is an experience. Be able to take risks and chances!” Jacobs concluded.

Each participating school was placed in one of eight leagues, each league sponsored by a national or multi-national corporation such as Best Foods, Georgia Pacific, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, Quaker Oats, 3-M and others. The semi final-rounds of the competition, held May 14, were the final test of perseverance and preparation. Each student group presented its annual report to a panel of 50 judges and detailed the projects it had completed during the school year. HPU was in the Northwestern Mutual league and presented in the afternoon sessions. Tom Payne, senior vice president of SIFE, said, “HPU did a great job,” a sentiment reflected in the judges’ comments.

“The HPU team’s cultural diversity and excitement impressed me the most,” said Bernard Milano, president and trustee of KPMG Foundation, who added, “keep up the excellent entrepreneur education.” And philanthropist Norman Polsky of Norman and Elaine Polsky Family Foundation, advised HPU SIFE to “start doing real business and make money. Step up, be real entrepreneurs!”

The top two teams from each of the eight leagues’ were chosen to participate in a final round May 16. HPU shared top 15 honors Centenary College, Drury University, Elizabethtown College, Elmira College, Flagler College, Georgia Southwestern State University, La Sierra University, Northeastern State University, Pittsburgh State University, Southern Arkansas University, Southwest Texas State University, Union University, University of Arizona and Valdosta State University. Even on the brink of temporarily losing their voices, Ginnane and Blake were heard shouting, “We did it! We made the final sixteen!”

“We can change the world!” Albieri shouted, dancing on the stage in the excited exhilaration of victory.

For the final competition the entire 16 teams were organized into four leagues. HPU was in the league sponsored by MTD Products presented their annual report at 9 am in the final round. The afternoon and evening were available for networking for internships and employment at a Career Expo with companies such as American Greeting Cards, Ernest & Julio Gallo Wines, KPMG, Manco and more than 50 other companies recruiting potential employees.

Final results were announced at the evening awards banquet. HPU placed third of the final four winners, behind Drury University, Springfield, Missouri, and Butte College, Oroville, Calif. These teams went on to represent the United States at the SIFE World Competition in London in June.

“HPU has come a long way and has gone farther than any Hawai‘i school has previously done!” said, Jack Kahl, former CEO of Manco, Inc.

“We want to do better next year by encouraging every student at HPU to join SIFE, and we want to share the success with HPU. Positively, we want to go international!” said Roderick Mak, a SIFE at HPU alumni.

To learn more about SIFE, and about how business and education are a perfect fit for anyone passionate about the global future of business, visit



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