Harker DECA students traveled to Atlanta for the 2018 International Career Development Conference (ICDC), where they competed, presented, heard speakers and earned some great accolades. A dozen teams from Harker DECA ended up staging in the preliminary finalist round. Nine out of those 12 teams competed in the finalist round, with one team placing in the top 10, one team taking third place, two teams taking second place and one team taking first.
“In an event as big as ICDC, your love for your school and your state really comes through,” said Michelle Si, grade 9. “In every conference – first at Silicon Valley, then states, then at ICDC – your perspective changes as the picture grows. At first, it is about yourself and your friends. Then it is about your school. And then it is about your state.”
On Saturday morning, the day after arriving, Harker DECA participated in the DECA 5K, a fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Later, students participated in the California competitive session, in which participants socialized with and picked the brains of previous ICDC winners. The group got a VIP tour of the Coca-Cola factory, then attended the grand opening session at 8:30 p.m., featuring keynote speaker menswear designer Joseph Abboud.
On Sunday, students attended a quick event briefing before taking their written examinations, which spanned the rest of the day. Students also were given an opportunity to visit career exhibits in between examinations, and they were exposed to a variety of different career paths, followed by a relaxing evening.
On Monday, students continued to visit career exhibits and began the preliminary round of role-plays and written presentations. That evening, the group attended the DECA concert featuring Andy Grammer, a country-pop artist.
“The experience was amazing,” said Aditi Ghalsasi, grade 10, “and being with the whole chapter at an event like that made the conference feel like more than a competition. I got to meet Andy Grammer myself, and my friends and I all enjoyed the night after a long day.”
On Tuesday, the Harker DECA chapter attended the achievement awards session, where the participants advancing to the final round of competitions were announced. In each event, the top 20 teams advance to finals. Top participants for presentations, career cluster exams and overall performers were acknowledged as well. Twelve of Harker’s teams were recognized for their achievements, and nine qualified to compete in the final round of competitions.
“Going into finals,” said Nishka Ayyar, grade 11, “I was surprisingly calm, because I was really proud that we had gotten this far, and I was just excited to have another chance to compete in the event I love.”
As finalists showed their mettle, the rest of the chapter was given time to relax and catch up on school assignments after a busy few days. The group came back together for the grand awards session, where a number of Harker DECA students were recognized (see awards below). Each award was greeted with enthusiastic applause.
“I was really surprised were even called on stage in the first place,” said Alyssa Huang, grade 10, “and then when they said our names for second place, I screamed for about five minutes straight. It was crazy, but really cool!”
As the event wound down, participants reflected on what they had learned. “Networking with competitors from across the globe, learning applicable skills in a collaborative environment and exploring the city of Atlanta made ICDC 2018 an event that I will remember for the rest of my life,” said Naveen Mirapuri, grade 10.
DECA advisor Juston Glass agreed it was a great trip. “We had our most successful ICDC ever!” he noted. “For the competitors who were recognized on stage and those that will try again next year, it was really nice for the students’ hard work throughout the year come to fruition. I’m so proud of every single one of them and of the Harker DECA chapter for all that we accomplished this year.”
“As a chapter, this year’s competitive performance at ICDC was the best that we’ve ever seen,” said Shania Wang, grade 11, Harker DECA CEO, “and I’m really excited to bring that energy and momentum into next year. I’m really hoping to build upon our successes over the past few years while bringing in new ideas and perspectives that can really make the DECA experience better for everyone. Overall, I’m very hopeful for an amazing next year.”
Finalists are as follows:
Devanshi Mehta, grade 11, and Sharon Yan, grade 12, Herff Jones National Marketing Challenge
Enya Lu, grade 11, and Alyssa Huang, grade 10, Financial Services Team Decision Making
Erin Liu, grade 11, Business Growth Plan Third Place
Neelesh Ramachandran, grade 12, Virtual Business Challenge, Accounting
Top 10 Finalists
Rishi Dange, grade 10, Accounting Applications Series
Top 20 Finalists
Nishka Ayyar, and Riya Gupta, both grade 11, Business Law and Ethics Team Decision Making
Emma Andrews, grade 9, Principles of Business Management and Administration
Aditya Singhvi, grade 9, Principles of Finance
Andrew Sun, grade 9, Principles of Finance
Evan Cheng, grade 10, Business Services Marketing Series
Navel Mirapuri, grade 10, Food Marketing Series
David Feng, grade 10, Marketing Communications Series
Harker DECA is an International Competitive Business Organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in four fields of business: marketing, finance, hospitality and management. Our DECA chapter integrates classroom instruction, applies learning, connects to business and promotes competition in order to prepare the next generation to be academically prepared, community oriented, professionally responsible and experienced leaders.