FAYETTE, Iowa (April 3, 2013) – Upper Iowa University's Enactus group almost didn't go to regionals this year. Formed just a little over three months ago, the brand new UIU organization is considered too young by Enactus' standards to showcase their projects and achieve results. The Enactus organization generally likes teams to be at least a year old before they consider competing. But, UIU Enactus has Dr. Kris Blanchard, UIU assistant professor of business and MBA program chair, as their advisor – and he's no rookie when it comes to Enactus.
Blanchard is a Sam Walton Fellow, an honor bestowed on Enactus advisors by the non-profit organization. The Upper Iowa Enactus group is the third he's advised since 2004, and he says, this is the most independent team, he's ever worked with. "This group is completely student-driven," he said. "They choose the projects to work on and they run with it."
An international organization, Enactus strives to bring together student, academic and business leaders who are committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need. Guided by academic advisors like Blanchard, the student leaders of Enactus create and implement community empowerment projects around the world. 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.
The core team of Samuel Vivas Imparato from Valencia, Venezuela; Rosangel Espinoza from Lecheria, Venezuela; Adrian Sanchez from LaVictoria, Venezuela; Deepa Wai May Sukumaran from Selangor, Malaysia; and Paul Dupeyrat from Meyreuil, France; memorized their presentation, a feat that's nearly unheard of at the regional level. The five presenters also form the UIU Enactus leadership team. In 17minutes and in front of a 15-judge panel comprised of executive members of the organization's Fortune 500 sponsors, the UIU team flawlessly detailed three on-going projects taking place at Upper Iowa University with Enactus at the helm. These projects include coordinating the logistics, marketing and sustainability for the Iowa Writing Center Consortium that is being held April 5 on UIU's Fayette campus; expanding the University's on-campus recycling program; and coordinating the 2,000-mile bike ride for Partners In Development and Teach For America, which is being completed by Dr. Katrina Farren-Eller, UIU assistant professor of English, and her former student, Jessica Racine, a TFA teacher in Bridgeport, Conn.
"Four of the judges approached me after the competition to comment on how impressed they were by the team," said Blanchard. "The only thing that kept our UIU Enactus team from winning it all was our age as an organization. In just three months, we have not yet generated the results, but by next year, we will certainly be ready."
Winning regionals in Upper Iowa's league was North Central University from Minneapolis, Minn. – a team that Blanchard started almost 10 years ago. North Central will go on to compete at the national level in May in Kansas City. Blanchard is hoping UIU Enactus will be able to attend to observe the top entrepreneurial Enactus teams in the country. "Enactus competitions are actually the top-recruiting venues for Enactus partner companies (many are listed on the Fortune 500)," he said. "In fact, after the presentation at regionals our seniors were encouraged to apply with two of these companies."
The winners of nationals will go on to compete at the Enactus World Cup in late September in Cancun, Mexico, where they will present the results of their community outreach projects to a prestigious group of international business leaders.
UIU Enactus already has their goals set for the coming year. One includes expanding the University organization to include Upper Iowa students in all learning experiences – online, independent study, international and at the 19 domestic education centers. It is also focusing on recruiting more members for its business advisory board. This board, comprised of entrepreneurs, will serve as mentors for UIU Enactus members, as well as provide financial assistance for projects and competition travel. UIU Enactus is also writing grants to hopefully realize another major goal – starting a business.
To watch the UIU Enactus presentation, log on to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oL-c2riwgkA&noredirect=1.
About Upper Iowa University Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private, not-for-profit university providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs and leadership development opportunities to some 6,200 students—nationally and internationally—at its Fayette campus and learning centers worldwide. Upper Iowa University is a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through flexible, multiple delivery systems, including online and independent study. For more information, visit www.uiu.edu.