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No team in Western Canada’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) history has won all three regional competitions, until now.
Okanagan College’s SIFE team delivered a one-two-three punch at last week’s regional competition in Vancouver, finishing first in each of the three main categories: Financial Literacy, Entrepreneurship and the Go Green challenge.
Fifteen Okanagan College students impressed the competition judges, delivering compelling presentations on a range of SIFE Okanagan’s community outreach projects in the Okanagan valley, each of which address relevant social, economic and environmental needs.
“I am so proud of the SIFE Okanagan team for this great achievement,” said Caroline Wyatt, President of SIFE Okanagan. “This competition has been a great experience and the hard work and dedication of our entire team is evident in the results.”
Nationally, SIFE teams are present on 61 post-secondary campuses across the country. At the Western Canada regional exposition, 18 teams competed from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In all, 400 students, faculty and administrators took part in the competition and more than 130 business leaders judged the events.
In its first victory of the competition SIFE Okanagan won the Capital One Financial Literacy competition beating out teams from the University of Victoria, University of Alberta, University of Calgary, Thompson Rivers University and DeVry Institute of Technology.
Students Drew Vincent (Penticton), Delanie Shaw (Kelowna) and Thomas Arrowsmith, Jordan Pack and Samantha Hallett (all from Salmon Arm) presented on three key financial projects. Instill Life, a partnership with OliveUs Foundation, targets elementary school children across three cities, RoadMap to Financial Success is a collaboration with Prospera Credit Union to teach credit management to students and Dollars and sense works with Metro Community to help support adults living at or below the poverty level.
In its second victory SIFE Okanagan captured first in the TD Canada Trust Entrepreneurship competition, with presentations from Kelowna students Paven Sekhon, Adrienne Renaud and Bill Wang and Salmon Arm students Ryan Rithaler and Kris Goralski.
They battled teams from Simon Fraser University, Brandon University, University of Victoria, Grant MacEwan University and DeVry Institute of Technology and came out on top. Their projects, in addition to Instill Life, included the Young Entrepreneurship Competition being held in Vernon, Penticton and Kelowna and Venture Okanagan, which matches investors with aspiring new entrepreneurs.
Finally, sealing the hat-trick, SIFE Okanagan won gold in the Scotiabank Go Green challenge, emerging victorious over the University of Calgary, Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia, Brandon University, SAIT Polytechnic and Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Kacie Sawri from Penticton and Kelowna students Danielle Hofer, Evan Dizak, Dominique Tipton and Alejandro Valcarcel presented on the Green Business Awards (a project in partnership with the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce) and Farmbag (a new Penticton project) as well as Instill Life.
Dr. Heather Banham, Dean of the Okanagan School of Business was on hand in Vancouver to watch the student presentations.
“The SIFE regional competition was truly inspirational,” said Banham. “The students from Okanagan College competed and excelled and the results show. It is important to acknowledge that not only were the presentations first class, but the projects demonstrated impact in the community in relation to financial literacy, entrepreneurship and sustainability. While the SIFE teams are coming back as regional champions, Okanagan College and our communities are also in the winners’ circle.”
“What a wonderful, life-changing experience for these dedicated students who have worked so hard in SIFE to develop and execute many projects that address needs in their communities and beyond,” said Terry Kosowick, SIFE Faculty Advisor for Okanagan College in Salmon Arm. “I was inspired to see these students come shining through at the regional competition. In addition to all the learning experiences gained from being involved with SIFE, I think the presentation team students learned something about themselves in the competition process.”