It’s all business for UIU students at Enactus Exposition

(From left) Upper Iowa University Enactus Chapter president Paul Dupeyrat and team members Gabriel Wittenberg, Gaetan Berard and Bethani Jacobsen were all smiles after making the chapter’s presentation at the recent Enactus United States National Exposition in St. Louis.

FAYETTE, Iowa (April 30, 2015) – Sixteen members of the Upper Iowa University Enactus Chapter reached the quarterfinals of the 2015 Enactus United States National Exposition held in St. Louis April 13-16. First organized in 2012, the local Enactus Chapter was the youngest-ever to advance to the quarterfinal/consultation round of the challenging, team-oriented event.

“Advancing to quarter finals was a great feeling. It was our team’s first time competing at the national level, and we were extremely proud to advance. Being amongst the youngest and smallest teams to advance is a testament to how hard our team and our advisor BJ (Betty) Whitesell worked all year,” said Paul Dupeyrat, UIU Enactus Chapter president. “It was made even more special because (UIU President) Dr. William R. Duffy and his wife, Sharon, had made the trip; and it meant a lot to us to be able to share the experience with them.”

“I was grateful we attended the Opening Round of Competition Awards Ceremony if not only to experience the atmosphere and hear the speakers from many leading organizations,” added Whitesell, UIU dean of the School of Business.  “As naming the semi-finalists drew closer to our team of competitors, I felt the student’s anticipation growing; but it was tempered knowing we were excited just to have made our presentations.

“As the three names were read my thought was what to do after the ceremony to congratulate our students even though we were not moving forward. I didn’t want to lose the momentum and excitement we had from the day,” she continued, while also expressing appreciation toward President and Sharon Duffy for being in attendance.  “When the emcee read ‘Upper Iowa University’ I was so proud of our students. They had earned this opportunity to be recognized for their commitment to UIU Enactus!”

Whitesell explained Enactus is an International community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to enable human progress. Student programs are established on campuses across the nation. Participating Enactus students apply business concepts to develop community outreach projects with the primary goal to shape a more sustainable world.

She noted competitions such as the National Exposition help create a sense of accountability and motivation for teams to continually improve the quality of their projects. In addition, they provide participants an opportunity to collaborate with corporate leaders to further strengthen the value of the learning experience. For example, representatives from Schwan Food Company, Microsoft, 3M, Anheuser-Busch, and Edward Jones were among those serving on the jury panels in St. Louis.

Four entrepreneurial outreach projects were presented by 16 of the UIU team members during the recent contest. Students on the Enactus team represent all four Schools at the University.  The UIU School of Business and faculty advisors in the School serve as the team’s sponsor.

Dupeyrat was joined by Justin Merchant and Andrew Wenthe in formulating one of the University’s entries, which consisted of formulating a business model this coming summer among participating Fayette area businesses. Workshops are planned for September 2015 with the focus on defining each business’s plans, needs, and future direction.

Funds from a $3,000 grant will be awarded in October to three area businesses who best meet the group’s criteria:

  • The business, social, and economic impact on the City of Fayette and Fayette County.
  • The opportunities provided to UIU students.
  • The feasibility of expansion plans.

In addition, the winning businesses have to exhibit healthy financial reports. The funding would then be used to help provide organizational, managerial, and/or other business skills to help the winning businesses achieve their respective goals. Judges for the contest will be Enactus students and professors of the UIU School of Business. Likewise, UIU School of Business faculty members will provide future guidance to the winning business owners.

Another UIU team, led by student Gabriel Wittenberg, partnered with A to Z Literacy Movement to organize book and supply drives for schools in Zambia, Africa. In addition to the Good Samaritan effort, the Literacy team proposes partnering with the University’s Educational Department to send student-teachers to Zambia to witness first-hand the importance of improving literacy in other countries and at the same time have a positive influence on the Zambia communities.

To combat a growing environmental issue, senior Charles Alcaide reported that the UIU Green Project Team was developed to recycle waste from the university cafeteria. Alcaide reported that an estimated 2,800 pounds of garbage is collected from the campus cafeteria trash bins every two days. Depending on weather conditions, an estimated 60 pounds of refuse is transformed into some 100 pounds of compost materials every 8 to 12 weeks.

Led by student Bethani Jacobsen, the Green Project team has set a goal of installing compost bins across the Fayette campus with the recycled waste to be later utilized as mulch and/or fertilizer. Ultimately, the local Enactus students envision the development of a related area business to coincide with the University’s environmental footprint.

Similarly, the Ethanol Project Team and its student leader Jason McClenahan hope a future facility would be constructed to create gas-grade ethanol fuel by utilizing wood pulp and/or garbage.

Nine different trials have been completed by the UIU students resulting in 25 m/l of ethanol being created from 300 m/l of wood pulp. Due to the higher sugar content in food waste, the students believe they will witness a significant increase in ethanol output when they switch to using cafeteria garbage in future trials.

“It was very unique to observe the other more experienced Enactus chapters present their ambitious projects,” admitted Alcaide, a graphic design major who will graduate May 9. “Without seeing the National Exposition first hand, it’s hard for someone to realize the impact these projects could have not only across the nation, but around the world.

“The event also provided each of us the opportunity to talk with the corporate partners, hand out resumes, and exchange other information with the business leaders,” he added.

The UIU Enactus Team currently remains in action by preparing for next year, moving its projects closer toward sustainability, and encouraging new team members to take advantage of this opportunity to better their community “through entrepreneurial action.”

About Upper Iowa University Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private, not-for-profit university providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 5,800 students—nationally and internationally—at its Fayette campus, 25 U.S. education locations, as well as locations in Malaysia and Hong Kong. Upper Iowa University is a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through flexible, multiple delivery systems, including online and self-paced degree programs. With a focus on developing leaders and lifelong learners, UIU provides dual enrollment programs for high school students as well as continuing education and professional development opportunities for learners of any age. For more information, visit


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