This article originally appeared in the spring 2016 Harker Quarterly.
Harker DECA Excels at State Conference
Almost 90 students traveled to San Diego in early March to compete with more than 2,000 other California DECA members at the State Career Development Conference. Harker garnered six first place wins, a pair of second place wins, a quartet of third place wins and more than a dozen additional top 10 awards.
During the four days there, students competed, attended workshops, took protégé exams and went to Belmont Park for a little fun and relaxation.
A highlight of the trip was Harker’s chapter advisor, Juston Glass, passing on his 2015 Advisor of the Year award to the 2016 recipient.
Two days were dedicated to written events and role-play competitions. At the mini awards, 36 Harker students were recognized for achievements in their respective competitions.
At the grand awards ceremony on the final day of the conference, Harker DECA earned an astounding 26 top 10 wins. Additionally, 15 teams qualified for the International Career Development Conference (ICDC), which will be held in Nashville, Tenn., in April.
Overall, this conference was a huge success for Harker DECA, not only in terms of competitions, but also in terms of experience. Students had a lot of fun in the SoCal sun and achieved competitive excellence. Harker DECA proved once again to be a top competitor in the most competitive state in the nation. DECA members are looking forward to ICDC!
DECA Astounds with Record-Breaking Wins at Annual Conference
Harker DECA chapter members garnered 19 top three wins at the 2016 Silicon Valley Career Development Conference in early January and 42 teams received mini awards. In addition to the excellent competitive results, three members were elected to the Silicon Valley District Action Team for the 2016-17 year: Alisa Su, grade 10, as vice president of public relations; Erin Liu, grade 9, as vice president of fashion; and Haley Tran, grade 11, as executive vice president.
Students were jazzed by the results and support they received from fellow students.
“The energy when a Harker DECA member won was unprecedented, and all the other students in the room were shocked by the amount of energy our chapter brought,” noted Vanessa Tyagi, grade 10, director of communications for Harker DECA.
“The support for each competitor was unbelievable,” added Alexander Mo, grade 11, director of written events. “I really think that Harker DECA impressed schools not only with our competitive results, but also our bond as a chapter.”
Changes within the chapter have improved results. “We’ve had the best competitive results this year since the inception of the business and entrepreneurship department,” said Sophia Luo, grade 12, Harker DECA CEO. “Thanks to our newly formed officer mentorship program, many of our members worked one-on-one with experienced officers and achieved competitive excellence. I’m so proud of everyone, mentors and mentees alike.”
Winning gave participants a huge charge. “The feeling when I heard my name being called up on to the stage was amazing,” noted Ashna Chandra, grade 10, Harker DECA director of membership. “All the late nights and hard work were definitely worth it. Just thinking about being on stage and receiving the trophy gives me chills, it was such a surreal experience.”
Not all the successes were from beating competitors; some came from just participating. “I had a really good time at SVCDC this year,” said Shaan Gagneja, grade 10. “I was a finalist in both events that I competed in, and an overall finalist in my written event. I got to meet new people and expand my social network. This conference was an overall success for Harker DECA, and I can’t wait for the rest of the competitive season.”
DECA Out and About on Campuses
DECA is keeping busy back on campus, too. Starting early in the school year, the chapter sponsored an Idea Challenge on the middle school campus to bring DECA to middle schoolers. Middle school teams were assigned an item – in this case, a cardboard box – from which to create a product. Each team then had to promote the product via a video.
In late February, Glass and Logan Drazovich, grade 12, DECA vice president of public relations, went to the middle school campus to announce the winners of the Idea Challenge. Each team was judged on innovation, the value of their new idea, sustainability of the product and the effectiveness of their teamwork and communication.
Later in February, the DECA public relations team went to the middle school to meet with the members of the Stock Market Club. Drazovich led a discussion on the basics of the stock market, and gave the members valuable advice on how to play The Stock Market Game, an online simulation of the global capital markets. The middle school Stock Market Club members were enthusiastic and eager to learn new tips and tricks on how to further their “investments.”
DECA also connected with the upper school student body at an informal “lunch and learn” gathering hosted by Sanil Rajput, grade 12, DECA director of finance. Rajput talked about the basics of insurance: how it works, the different types of insurance, and why it’s essential. “I believe the lunch and learn went flawlessly,” said Rajput. “Students came in ready to learn and excited and asked many questions throughout. Overall, it was a great experience for everyone.”
The chapter also hosted a showing and discussion of Shark Tank, the popular reality show that encourages entrepreneurship. Alisa Su noted, “It was not only fun to watch the show in a classroom setting, but the discussion was insightful and invigorating. Who knew you could learn so much about business from a TV show!?”
Finally, DECA pitched top government officials in our area to promote programs like DECA. As part of its public policy- makers outreach, the group contacted Gov. Jerry Brown, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. In emails to each, DECA addressed the importance of career technical education programs in high school, hoping to engage the leaders in a dialogue.
For the full list of winners and additional details for each conference, go to news. harker.org and search “DECA.”