VSU Enactus Headed to National Exposition May 15-17

| May 2, 2016

vsu enactus

VALDOSTA – Valdosta State University Enactus is one of 144 teams who will compete at the 2016 Enactus United States National Exposition in St. Louis, Mo., May 15-17.

“Advancing to nationals was a surreal moment for us,” said Shakelia Mahoney, VSU Enactus president and a senior from Washington. “Being in an environment with business professionals who are leaders in the industry was a great opportunity … now that we are attending nationals, we will be in a space where we can create even more connections and further develop ourselves as business entrepreneurs.”

The student organization qualified after winning first place at the 2016 regional competition April 1 in Atlanta, where they presented on their three “most impactful projects,” including the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) Skills Success Center, CleanSweep, and the Greenhouse Project.

Six members of the student organization — Micah Downs, Enactus program director of off-campus affairs and a junior computer science major from Augusta; Olivia Gear, Enactus vice president and a senior marketing major from Lithonia; Micky Halsey, Enactus director of Business Bites and a senior economics major from Albany, Ore.; Alison Mgbeke, Enactus member and a junior marketing major from Atlanta; Khadejah Sewell, Enactus director of Hudson Dockett projects and a senior interdisciplinary studies major from Toccoa; and Mahoney — had the opportunity to present the results of three VSU Enactus projects and be evaluated by business leaders who served as judges.

In 2011, VSU Enactus introduced the community to the SIFE Skills Success Center, a multipurpose learning facility that addresses the social, economic, and educational needs of children and families living in the Ora Lee West and Hudson Dockett housing areas. The center is made up of four distinct areas, including a computer lab, an art room, a math/science/reading room, and a music room. Children ages 5 to 15 rotate through each area every day, working on their skills while being mentored by VSU Enactus students.

In 2012, VSU Enactus formed a partnership with Lowndes Associated Ministries to People Inc. (LAMP) to create a business plan for CleanSweep, a professional cleaning service that allowed LAMP to provide its formerly homeless residents of LAMP with the opportunity to obtain job skills, leadership development, and entrepreneurial understanding, all while earning a living.

VSU Enactus currently operates two programs, Life Smarts and Computer Smarts, to educate men and women at the LAMP shelter with basic life management and computer skills needed within the workforce.

“… that also entailed telling the story of Ms. Dutchess Caldwell, who … took advantage of [Life Smarts and Computer Smarts] … used the skills she learned from VSU Enactus … and in November 2015, purchased CleanSweep from LAMP and renamed it Dutchess’s Dust Feathers,” said Jeffrie Shipley, faculty advisor for VSU Enactus. “In four years, Ms. Dutchess had gone from homeless to business owner. She also serves on LAMP’s board.”

VSU Enactus kicked off the Greenhouse Project earlier this year after its members were made aware of the need for fresh, healthy food for the residents at the LAMP shelter.

Using two-liter bottles to construct the exterior of the greenhouse, Enactus members will assist the residents of LAMP with growing their own food, a skill they can use when they transition out of the shelter, once the greenhouse is completed. Food that is not consumed by the residents of LAMP will be sold at Valdosta’s Farm Days. All proceeds will benefit LAMP.

Enactus is an international organization that connects student, academic and business leaders through entrepreneurial-based projects that empower people to transform opportunities into real, sustainable progress for themselves and their communities.

Guided by academic advisors and business experts, the student leaders of Enactus create and implement entrepreneurial projects around the globe. The experience not only transforms lives, it helps students develop the kind of talent and perspective that are essential to leadership in an ever-more complicated and challenging world.

“I am extremely proud of these young men and women,” said Shipley. “Their efforts in our community are selfless. The leadership team has done an amazing job coordinating all the various projects of VSU Enactus.”

Contact Jeffrie Shipley at (229) 245-6573 or jkshiple@valdosta.edu for more information.

Note: Valdosta State University Enactus was previously known as Students in Free Enterprise.

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