Kris Hovsepian, assistant professor of marketing at Ashland University, has been inducted into the Sam Walton Fellow Hall of Fame for the work she has done with Ashland University’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE).
Hovsepian has served as the adviser to the SIFE group at Ashland University since 1991. The group has captured first place in regional competition nine times out of the last 19 years.
Brittany Dennis, associate director of the SIFE USA Programs Department, noted the significance of the induction.
“Induction into the Sam Walton Fellow Hall of Fame is among the highest honors within the SIFE organization,” Dennis said. “In addition to recognizing their length of service, impact on their community and overall success of their SIFE program, induction into the SIFE Hall of Fame recognizes those Sam Walton Fellows whose level of dedication and success serve as a guidepost for current and future faculty advisors to follow.”
SIFE is an international non-profit organization that works with leaders in business and higher education to mobilize university students to make a difference in their communities while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders. Participating students form teams on their university campuses and apply business concepts to develop outreach projects that improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need. An annual series of regional and national competitions provides a forum for teams to present the results of their projects, and to be evaluated by business leaders serving as judges.
“Ashland University was accepted and we first participated during the 1991-92 academic year and competed in Chicago, where we won ‘rookie of the year’ that year,” Hovsepian recalled. “We have competed every year since, winning a lot of times and even placing as second runner-up at nationals twice.”
Hovsepian noted that former Provost Dr. Lucille Ford first encouraged her to apply for a SIFE team at Ashland.
“She was the one who got me involved with SIFE. She called me into her office in March of 1991 and presented me with the information on SIFE,” she said. “She gave me a 10-page application and encouraged me to apply for Ashland University I do remember asking her when it was due and she told me it had to be post-marked the next day.”
Hovsepian said the application was easy to complete because she was and remains a huge fan of free enterprise.
“My dad and three of my brothers own or owned their own businesses. My father-in-law owned his own business and my husband and brother-in-law are both self-employed,” she said. “And my own business experience includes starting, running and successfully selling my own business as well.”
Hovsepian said the Ashland SIFE team will be celebrating its 20 years as part of SIFE international this coming academic year. Ashland’s SIFE program consists of about 35 students each year.
“The primary purpose of SIFE is to promote the idea of free enterprise by getting students involved in projects,” Hovsepian said. “These projects teach the students about finance literacy, entrepreneurship, business ethics and environmental sustainability.”
Hovsepian said she continues to believe in the SIFE program and concept and continues to hear from her students who praise the program. Some of these comments include:
“Ashland University’s Student’s In Free Enterprise program, and specifically Professor Hovsepian, provided me many opportunities for advancement, education and networking that cannot be achieved in a traditional classroom setting. My years in the SIFE program allotted me the opportunity to apply many of the business and economics concepts I had studied in the classroom, to real world business problems within the community, by working in a consulting role to local businesses. In addition, the SIFE program exposed me to numerous public speaking and business networking opportunities, mixed with complex problem solving situations and team building activities, which have benefited me greatly in my professional career. Professor Hovsepian has been a tremendous mentor and friend to me during my undergraduate and graduate school days at Ashland University, and also outside of the university setting. She provides leadership, creativity and a passion for student’s success, mixed with a good sense of humor, to help her students strive to achieve their personal and professional goals. She was inspirational to me in many ways.” – Scott Anderson
“Kristen Hovsepian (Professor H) is more than just your average professor at Ashland University. Not only does she offer an outside the box thinking method to marketing and international business, she pushes students to the next level. Even after graduating seven years ago, I still have contact with her and she reaches out to me and my fellow alumni for her SIFE Team. Being her advisee was one of the best things that happened to me while at Ashland University She pushed me to do better, and to not settle for just classes, studying and tests. When she told me when SIFE was meeting and to be there, I was skeptical, but it led me to experience things that other students in my class were not. Speaking on a national level at conferences and competing in SIFE business competitions before graduation helped prepare me to hit the ground running when I graduated. To this day we still keep in contact even though I have lived a great distance from Ashland University Professor H can always bring me back to reality and always has her own kind words of wisdom. This award that she is receiving and any other that she can be nominated for do not even scrape the surface of the reigniting she deserves for the impact she has had on every student she comes in contact with at Ashland University I know that my life has been different and I have been successful in business not just because of my studies and degree from Ashland University, but from the experiences, drive, willingness to take chances and just overall hard work ethic that Professor H invested in me. Congratulations Professor H, this award is well deserved.” – Brandon Hairston
“My favorite SIFE experience is when we participated in a road rally for Empower Worldwide Outreach. It helped some of the others learn the area and allowed us to bond and get to know each other. The bonding continued onto the National Competition. On the downtime, we practiced individually and discussed the presentation while flying to Minneapolis. It was a wonderful time with wonderful people.” -- Thomas Joe Budd
I am so excited to hear that Prof. Hovsepian was inducted into the Sam Walton Fellow Hall of Fame! What an honor to be noticed among such a large group. I thought I would share with you a few things that Ashland University SIFE and Prof. H. has done for me. First of all, Prof. H. wholeheartedly welcomed me into the business program at Ashland University Being from a small town, it meant a lot that a professor took such interest in my time at school. But it wasn't just ‘school’ that she was interested in - she has such a passion for developing students in their personal and professional lives. She knows that college is only the beginning to our lives in the real world and I feel that is why she has dedicated her time and effort to SIFE. SIFE is a way for students to connect with each other and with professionals in the community. SIFE is the door for students to try new things and experience the business world before venturing out on their own. SIFE gives its members opportunities to learn and pushes them to step out of their comfort zone. It was a blessing in my life at Ashland University - from the friendships I made to the real world experiences I had, I am honored to be a SIFE alumni. Prof. H. was an integral part of my development at Ashland University and it is great to be involved with an organization that is dedicated to the development of young adults and the improvement of the surrounding communities.” – Melissa Ossman
Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.