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March 15, 2010

Media Contact: Hannah Buchanan
Public Affairs Specialist
News and Information
The University of Texas at Tyler

Creating Solutions: UT Tyler SIFE Partners with Crisis Center


Students in Free Enterprise members - front row from left: Whitney Ray, KeeKee Miller, Kaitlin Brown. Back row from left: Ana Blanco and Jill Yancey-Walker. Not pictured: Amber Grimes.

A student organization at The University of Texas at Tyler has started a project to help East Texas Crisis Center clients, Dr. Harold Doty, College of Business and Technology dean, announced.

The UT Tyler Students in Free Enterprise has partnered with the center to help provide women the job skills and confidence they need to find new beginnings.

With the Dress for Success Project, six female SIFE members work directly as personal advocates with center clients. The project began October 2009.

“The students taught women in the center important job skills including resume writing, employment interview skills, elevator speech techniques and the correct way to dress and apply make-up for a job interview,” said Tammy Cowart, UT Tyler assistant professor of business law and SIFE faculty co-adviser. “SIFE hopes the skills and opportunities that it has provided to the women of the East Texas Crisis Center will help them find the self confidence they need to build a better future for themselves and their families.”

The project was the brainchild of senior accounting major KeeKee Miller of Tyler, UT Tyler SIFE treasurer and project chair. Miller – a former client herself – said she wanted to give back to the center.

“I wanted to make something, in such a horrific time for those women, a little bit easier, as well as, give them a little of the self confidence their abuser took from them,” she said.

According to Miller, this project also gives her peers an opportunity to practice what they have learned.

“Not only do they get a chance to actually use something that they have learned in class, but it also makes them even better at the tasks that they performed for their client,” she said. “I also truly believe that they all got a lot of self-gratification from helping these ladies. As for the clients, they all needed that extra boost of self-confidence, not only for the physical, but seeing that perfect strangers believe they are deserving of so much more.”

Cowart said the project has become a huge success. SIFE members hope to make this an annual endeavor to assist other area non-profit organizations, according to Cowart.

Project sponsors include JCPenney home office, JCPenney Salon and Portrait Studio in Tyler, H & L Exploration Company and UT Tyler graduate student Kristen Peterson with MAC Cosmetics, who donated cosmetics and volunteered her staff’s time as part of a make-over day.

UT Tyler SIFE is dedicated to improving the lives of students and their community by engaging in projects focused on market economics, success skills, entrepreneurship, business ethics, environmental sustainability and financial literacy.

One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 90 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 6,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.


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