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Hartnell College Student Business Club Wins Back to Back Championships

April 10th, 2008

The Hartnell College Students In Free Enterprise Team (SIFE) returned to Salinas as winners for the second year in a row after being crowned champions in the Los Angeles SIFE USA Regional Competition on April 7, 2008. The event was one of 16 SIFE Regional Competitions held across the United States in late March and early April.

Hartnell College Students In Free Enterprise Team SIFE
The winning Hartnell College SIFE Team at regional competition on April 7, 2008, in Hollywood:
Top, Back Row: Melvin Mendez, Joel Medrano, Miguel Corral, Ricardo Ruvalcaba, Alberto Elias, Tim Fuller, and Paul Fuller.
Second, Back Row - Dipesh Lad, Vanessa Velasco, Amanda Stefani, Marlinda Acosta, Jessa Elgar, Erica Soler, Juana Hernandez, Evelin Nava, and Esmeralda Magana.
Front, Seated - Robert Maffei, Samuel Moore Walton Fellow, Faculty Advisor; and, Peter Calvert, Hartnell Faculty
Not Pictured: Mark Cardona, Rick Wilson, and Erwina Pattison

Hartnell was one of 28 teams from California, Arizona, and Nevada competing in the Los Angeles Regional. Team competition consisted of a written report and a 24-minute live presentation of the team’s year-long community outreach projects. Hartnell’s projects reached a wide audience in the Salinas Valley, ranging from elementary school students--who were taught about the manufacturing process using a Lego assembly line--to migrant farm workers, who were taught about identity theft in a seminar conducted in both Spanish and English.

The team organized and presented nearly two dozen seminars during its one-day Business World Exposition last November, including presentations on increasing sales, networking, equal employment opportunity, credit card debt, and business ethics. The Expo offered the public the free advice and knowledge of 16 local business experts.

“We made a special effort to reach out to the entire community,” said Hartnell business instructor Robert Maffei, a Samuel Moore Walton Fellow and the team’s faculty advisor. “We offered free parking on the day of the Expo, placed advertisements in Spanish-language media outlets, and offered our workshops in English and in Spanish.”

Winning their division of the one-day regional competition made them eligible to advance to the SIFE national competition, to be held in Chicago, May 13-15.

“These students have heart, soul, and talent……they just may be the best team I’ve ever had,” said Maffei. “These students really learned how to pull together as a team.”

For students, the competition was more than a lesson in business savvy.

“Competing in Hollywood was an experience of a lifetime,” said Jessa Elgar, one of the team's members. “To me, it wasn’t just about winning; it was about making sacrifices, being able to overcome obstacles and challenges, and seeing all the effort and hard work you’ve done as a team unfold. Showing people who we are and what we’re capable of was a reward in itself.”

The trip to nationals in Chicago will be expensive, and the SIFE team is already busy trying to raise funds to cover the approximately $10,000 expense. Maffei is hoping that area businesses will see how much SIFE is changing lives, both in the community and among team members, and will want to help out. For more information, or to help Hartnell SIFE get to Chicago, please contact Robert Maffei at 831-755-6744, or rmaffei@.hartnell.edu.

SIFE is an international non-profit organization active on more than 1,400 college and university campuses in 48 countries. SIFE teams create economic opportunities in their communities by organizing outreach projects that focus on market economics, entrepreneurship, personal financial success skills, and business ethics.