SVSU’s DECA team had all six of its members qualify for Nationals at the Michigan DECA conference in Grand Rapids.
DECA is an international association that gives high school and college students an opportunity to explore various business fields.
“DECA introduces students to a wide range of business areas,” said SVSU DECA adviser Amy Hendrickson. “It helps them start thinking about what professions they might want to pursue and to start learning things that will be helpful to them if they decide to study business while they are in college.”
At the DECA competitions, students compete in a wide range of events in content areas such as marketing, entrepreneurship, finance, hospitality, marketing and sales.
“There are a variety of different competitive events from several business disciplines,” Hendrickson said. “There are individual events where students are given a case study and they have a short time to prepare and then present to judges. There are also group activities where students compete in a partnership or a small team and they have to create and present a business or marketing plan.”
First-year international business major Keegan Booms competed in the “sports and entertainment marketing” and “banking and financial services” categories at the state competition and was proud to hear that he qualified for nationals.
“I was pretty excited that I qualified for nationals because I had never competed before,” Booms said. “I knew what DECA was and I had been a part of it, but I had no idea how I was going to do in the competition and to qualify for nationals is a major accomplishment.”
Other members Carly D’Alessandro, Jacob Humphries, Mackenzie Koski, Jacob Saint Amour and Maggie Walker also qualified for the national competition, known as the International Career Development Conference (ICDC), which will be held in Washington D.C. in April.
“ICDC has the national versions of the state competitions, so students compete in the category that they qualified in,” Hendrickson said. “In addition to those competitions, there is a national sales challenge and entrepreneurship challenge. There are also a lot of career-development sessions, so it’s one part competition and one part conference.”
After nationals, Hendrickson hopes to continue bringing real-world experiences to DECA students and pushing them to succeed.
“My hope is that DECA will give students interested in business the kind of hands-on experience that students in moot court are having that want to be lawyers,” Hendrickson said. “I think DECA is important because it allows its students to get out and see what other people are doing and really have a sense of how their hard work pays off. “
In the future, the DECA team also plans to strengthen its organization through business sponsorships.
“We would like to work on gaining corporate sponsorships,” said Jacob Humphries, a first year international business student. “Companies that partner with our DECA team may be able to provide scholarships or job opportunities for our members, which would be great.”
Booms encourages any students interested in challenging themselves, building communication skills or learning about business to join DECA.
“People from any major and class standing can join,” Booms said. “For example, we have two people on the team right now who are both upperclassman. Neither one had ever been a part of DECA before, but they both came in and placed in their competitions. That just shows you can join at any time, and you’re going to have a good experience no matter what.”