This article originally appeared in the spring 2015 Harker Quarterly.
Harker’s DECA program hit on all cylinders this winter, achieving new milestones!
First off, Harker DECA president Savi Joshi, grade 12 and advisor Juston Glass were named student of the year and advisor of the year, respectively. The winners were chosen by nomination and no chapter has ever had both a student and advisor named in the same year. Joshi was chosen from more than 5,000 student members in California, and Glass was chosen out of more than 100 advisors in California.
State DECA Conference
In late February and early March, 98 students from Harker’s DECA chapter traveled to the Marriott Hotel in Santa Clara to attend California’s State Career Development Conference. This four-day business conference and competition included workshops with renowned speakers, events with tough opponents and experiences for a lifetime.
“Our students did very well in competitions,” said junior Shannon Hong, Harker DECA director of communications and executive vice president of Silicon Valley DECA. The group took home three first-place awards, two third-place awards and 21 other top 10 awards.
Attending the state conference “was [not just] my final competition prior to the International Career Development Conference (ICDC) last April,” said Joshi, who took home a fourth-place award for her community service project. “It meant seeing my family in its element. That’s what DECA has become for me: a family. It’s the place and people I can go to when I need help, comfort or a challenge.
“ICDC is definitely a bittersweet event, as it signifies the end of a life-changing four year journey. I am DECA. We are Harker DECA. Welcome to our family,” added Joshi.
Along with competitions, students attended workshops, competed in role play and written events, had fun at Great America and sang karaoke. They also attended a formal dance, and the mini and grand awards ceremonies.
Advocacy Video Competition
DECA’s “I am DECA” theme is the cornerstone of its 2014-15 marketing and membership campaign, and the video by Ankur Karwal, grade 11, and Alexis Gauba, grade 10, was named one of the top three in the DECA Advocacy Video Challenge. DECA challenged its members to produce a short video during Career and Technical Education Month that expressed their own stories and shared how career and technical education has impacted their high school experience so far.
More than 30 videos were submitted from high school and collegiate DECA members.
Finish Line Finalists
Glenn Reddy, grade 12, and Logan Drazovich, grade 11, traveled to Indianapolis as one of three finalist teams nationwide competing in the DECA Finish Line Challenge. The teams advised Finish Line Inc. executives on how the company can best utilize and improve upon its omni-channel retailing strategy and company branding. Reddy and Drazovich submitted a video as part of the competition, and they received the winning accolades, coming in ahead of the other two finalist teams.
CareerConnect is Harker’s mentorship, career panel and professionalism program, featuring speakers from across a spectrum of professions. Recent CareerConnect guests have included Jag Kapoor, president of Golden State Restaurants Inc.; Cammie Dunaway, CEO of KidZania United States; Gigi Kelly, adjunct professor at the McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia; and Gary Gauba, president of Cognilytics-CenturyLink.
“CareerConnect’s panels were a great success in their second year,” said Shannon Hong. “Many students came out to hear from professionals in the fields of medicine, law, computer science, engineering and business. The panels provide a platform for students to learn from these professionals to gain an idea of a potential career path and build their network. We are now launching our second year of mentorship, a program that pairs students with professionals in their specific fields of interest so they can learn more about that specific niche and even shadow their mentors at their workplaces.”
More than 30 girls attended the Lead On Silicon Valley Conference for Women, along with more than 5,000 women from various industries, including technology, business, entrepreneurship and more. CareerConnect, part of Harker’s business and entrepreneurship program, sponsored the event with the help of Riverbed Technology Inc., which funded the entire Harker contingent to the event. Many, but not all, of the Harker attendees were from the B.E./DECA program.
Stock Market Game
Harker DECA won its region with a final amount of $179,387.65. The next highest winner in the Western region scored $150,333.92; those were also the two highest scores nationwide. Team members Safia Khouja and David Lin, both seniors, are eligible to travel to Orlando, Fla., in April to participate in the Stock Market Game at the 2015 DECA International Career Development Conference. At that event, they will defend their investment decisions for a chance to be recognized at the ICDC Grand Awards Session.
The year isn’t over, but seniors are beginning to look back on their time with DECA with nostalgia and appreciation. “Of all my years of participating in Harker DECA, this year has certainly been the most enjoyable and rewarding,” said Jonathan Lee, grade 12, Harker DECA vice president of operations. “I felt that the spirit, camaraderie and mutual support reached an all-time high this year. Personally, I think DECA taught me what it means to be a leader. It means that I have to put my team and my chapter before myself whenever I make a decision. Of course this lesson of leadership, loyalty and commitment has extended into every aspect of my life.”
Harker DECA is an international competitive business organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in four fields of business: marketing, finance, hospitality and management. The chapter integrates classroom instruction, applies learning, connects to business, and promotes competition so the next generation will be academically prepared, community oriented, professionally responsible and experienced leaders.