UA Enactus club members give back to Tucson community, embrace failure
Enactus club members are all about taking chances and not being afraid of failure, according to Griffin Sorenson, co-president of the club.
“We’re letting people know that this is a time for us to experience things, for us to make mistakes, for us to try things that don’t work,” Sorenson said. “(Club members) embrace failure and realize that sometimes the best learning experiences can be from failure.”
Formerly known as Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), Enactus is an entrepreneurial club that develops community outreach projects. Two student project managers lead each project and, along with financial grants from businesses like Sam’s Club, work to improve the lives of people in need.
This semester’s projects include promoting healthy eating, raising awareness of sex trafficking, assisting refugees, giving backpacks to local schools in need and helping college students prepare for the business world.
One of Sorenson’s favorite projects was working with Ironwood Ridge High School last year to revamp their school store, he said. Waking up before 7 a.m. every day to make the 45 minute drive was rough, but for Sorenson it was worth it to see the kids’ smiles and their progress.
“In October I came and there was no school store, they weren’t doing anything,” Sorenson said. “Now they’re open and they have a sustainable plan for the future. Nothing compares to that.”
The club allows members a lot of freedom with their projects so the growth potential is high.
“We have people who come out of their shell. They’ve accomplished something that’s not school or from a textbook,” said Carley Howell, co-president and retail and consumer sciences senior. “You learn to develop your own project and get your own results and that’s rewarding in itself.”
The club participates at a regional competition that showcase the projects its been working on throughout the year. From there, the winning team moves on to the national exposition and eventually the world cup.
Founded 14 years ago, Enactus has made it to the national competition every year and in 2008 they went to the World Cup in Singapore.
Though seeing their own finished projects is rewarding, Howell said that seeing how other teams have impacted the lives of thousands is inspirational.
“It’s hard to wrap your head around, just knowing that everyone is working toward positive change. It’s very uplifting.”
In September, Abra McAndrew, assistant director of student leadership and development in the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing, became the new adviser of Enactus.
McAndrew said she can already see the growth and development of their members and the club’s impact on the community.
Students learn business skills like planning and working in teams, McAndrew said, but they also get the mentorship and support of their peers.
Enactus has been working with OnwardPacks, a business founded by UA alumnus Jack Hall. Selling backpacks that are 100 percent her design, Hall’s business gives backpacks to kids in need.
“The bottom line is you actually make a difference,” Sorenson said. “I’m a believer of Gandhi’s quote, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’ I think that’s what we exhibit every day.”