Thursday November 26th, 2015 6:17PM

Enactus team at UNG advances to national competition; includes Hall residents

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DAHLONEGA - The Enactus team in the Mike Cottrell College of Business at the University of North Georgia (UNG) placed in the top 20 among more than 500 teams from across the U.S., at the recent 2013 Enactus U.S. National Exposition in Kansas City, Missouri.

Members of the team include Hall County residents Johnathon Murray of Flowery Branch and Maria Palacios, Khanh Tran and Sally Tang, all of Gainesville.

Through Enactus, formerly known as Students in Free Enterprise, students use business concepts to develop projects that are focused on community improvement and sustainability. The UNG Enactus team advanced to the national competition after being named a regional champion at the Enactus Regional Competition held in Atlanta in April. The UNG Enactus team was also honored as an Enactus 4.0 Club member, which recognizes chapters for quality education programs, success in Enactus and long-term sustainability in enabling progress through entrepreneurial action.

At the national competition, the UNG Enactus team advanced to the semi-final round and was also named a finalist in the o.b. Reducing Ocean Pollution Project Partnership.

"We are extremely proud of our team this year," said Katie Simmons, faculty advisor for Enactus and assistant dean of student services in the Mike Cottrell College of Business. "Our Enactus team has worked diligently through both the fall and spring to develop programs for our communities that meet the qualifications of Enactus."

During this academic year, the UNG Enactus team organized 10 projects in the community, including building an organic garden at Friendship Elementary School in Flowery Branch. Working with science teacher Brian Johnston and using a grant from the Lowe's Foundation, the Enactus volunteers built raised beds, a pizza garden, an irrigation system and a fence. These students will be able to grow vegetables that will be served in the cafeteria and will learn sustainable gardening practices. Future plans include opening the garden to the community so families can practice healthy habits.

"It really is amazing to see the impact that a small group of students can have in our region," said Dr. Donna Mayo, dean of the Mike Cottrell College of Business. "With these types of programs and the history of success our Enactus program has achieved, we can continue to anticipate providing these types of community engagement opportunities for our students for the foreseen future."

The annual Enactus competitions provide a showcase for teams to present the results of their projects, which are evaluated by business leaders serving as judges. Teams compete first at the regional and national levels, then at the international level when the national champion teams from each country meet at the Enactus World Cup.

Other members of the team are Anastasia Roberts (Monroe, Ga.), Travis Ebbert (Athens, Ga.), Kristin Xiong (Winder, Ga.), William McCracken (Duluth, Ga.), Matthew Seigler (Loganville, Ga.), and Consepcion Rodriguez, Brenda Carpio, Maria Carpio (Madeira, Portugal).

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