This report prepared by Shania Wang, grade 10, Harker DECA director of communications
In early March more than 100 students from Harker’s DECA chapter traveled to the Santa Clara Marriott to compete in the 2017 State Career Development Conference (SCDC). This four-day business conference featured competitions with tough opponents, skill-building workshops and unforgettable experiences. Harker proved its competitive excellence with 49 teams in the top ten and 21 groups in the top four across various categories, qualifying for the International Career Development Conference (ICDC).
“I think Harker DECA did amazingly in terms of competitive success at states this year. It was our best conference ever, with 21 teams qualifying,” said Vignesh Panchanatham, grade 11, Harker DECA’s director of examinations. “The students all put in a lot of hard work to prepare, and it obviously paid off.”
Finalists are as follows:
- Rohan Cherukuri, grade 9, Principles of Business Management and Administration
- Evan Cheng, grade 9, Principles of Hospitality and Tourism
- Enya Lu and Shania Wang, both grade 10, Public Relations Project
- Mishu Nitulescu, grade 11, Professional Selling Event
- Enya Lu, grade 10, Business Finance Series
- Nishka Ayyar and Riya Gupta, both grade 10, Business Law and Ethics Team Decision Making
- Reiya Das, Zara Vakath and Katelyn Vo, all grade 9, Fashion Merchandising Promotion Plan
- Arnav Joshi, grade 9, Principles of Business Management and Administration
- Alex Chen, grade 11, Principles of Marketing
- Alexis Gauba, grade 12, Business Services Marketing Series
- Erin Liu, grade 10, Business Growth Plan
- Chandan Aggarwal, Jeffrey Liu and Rakesh Nori, all grade 9, Independent Business Plan
- Ashna Chandra, grade 11, Haley Tran and Lucas Wang, both grade 12, Entrepreneurship Promotion Project
- Riya Chandra and Alexis Gauba, both grade 12, Learn and Earn Project
- Phil Han, grade 9, Principles of Marketing
- Shivani Awasthi, grade 12, Professional Selling Event
- Haley Tran, grade 12, Restaurant and Food Service Management Series
- Allison Jia, grade 9, Innovation Plan
- Vignesh Panchanatham, grade 11, Professional Selling Event
- Derek Kuo, grade 11, Retail Merchandising Series
- Shreyas Chandrashekaran, grade 11, Sports and Entertainment Marketing Series
- Mona Lee, grade 11, Apparel and Accessories Marketing Series
- Dolan Dworak and Michael Sikand, both grade 11, Marketing Management Team Decision Making
- Sachin Shah, grade 9, Principles of Finance
- Larissa Tyagi, grade 9, Principles of Marketing
- Roma Gandhi, Jessica Jiang and Larissa Tyagi, all grade 9, International Business Plan
- Rishi Dange, grade 9, Principles of Finance
- Rahul Mehta, grade 11, Advertising Campaign
- Amitej Mehta and Vignesh Panchanatham, both grade 11, Business Law and Ethics Team Decision Making
- Nikhil Sharma, grade 9, Business Services Operations Research
- Shivani Awasthi and Ankita Uppugunduri, both grade 12, Buying and Merchandising Team Decision Making
- Eric Fang, grade 9, Financial Consulting Event
- Naveen Mirapuri, grade 9, Principles of Marketing
- Karena Kong, Ananya Krishnan and Aashe Sreekumar, all grade 11, Buying and Merchandising Operations Research
- Shreyas Chandrashekaran and Shaan Gagneja, both grade 11, Business Services Operations Research
- Helen Yang, grade 10, Business Services Marketing Series
- Nikhil Sharma, grade 9, Principles of Business Management and Administration
- Bryan Wang, grade 9, Principles of Finance
- Radhika Jain, grade 9, Principles of Marketing
- Phil Han and Max Lee, both grade 9, Sports and Entertainment Promotion Plan
- Shania Wang and Kelsey Wu, both grade 10, Travel and Tourism Marketing Team Decision Making
- Michael Sikand, grade 11, Advertising Campaign
- Natasha Maniar, grade 10, Startup Business Plan
- Jessica Pan, grade 10, Fashion Merchandising Promotion Plan
- Jai Bahri, grade 9, Principles of Business Management and Administration
- Shea Tuli, grade 11, Personal Financial Literacy
- Ronit Gagneja, grade 9, Principles of Finance
- David Feng, grade 9, Principles of Hospitality and Tourism
- Rahul Mehta and Vanessa Tyagi, both grade 11, Sports and Entertainment Marketing Team Decision Making
“What excited me most was how excited our freshmen were,” said Riya Chandra, grade 12, Harker DECA co-Chief Executive Officer. “To see all the hard work they put in was just a great feeling as a leader and mentor of Harker DECA, so my favorite part as a senior now is seeing freshmen feel confident about their project. If they get on stage, it’s so amazing to see the smiles on their faces.”
After arriving at the hotel, there was a last-minute study session for students to prepare their role-plays, tests and written presentations. That afternoon and evening, all students took their written examinations.
The next day, students gathered to compete in their role-play events. Competitions occurred throughout the day, with each student receiving an individual time slot. At the general session, aside from learning valuable lessons from keynote speaker John Beede, a mountain climber and motivational speaker, Harker also earned recognition for being one of five schools in California to complete all chapter campaigns at the Thrive Level, earning six spots at the Thrive Leadership Academy at the ICDC. Furthermore, Harker’s very own Alisa Su, grade 11, received a plaque for designing the winning California ICDC pin, and advisor Juston Glass was honored for five years of service to DECA.
Saturday, written event presentations were made and, in the evening , chapters once against convened at the convention center for the Formal Recognition Session, where individuals who placed highly in their event were awarded medals. Harker DECA energetically supported all of its members as numerous students staged. Later that night, students had the option to attend a formal dance.
Throughout Friday and Saturday, students were given the opportunity to visit corporate booths, attend workshops and take protégé events. Several company sponsors set up tables to provide DECA members with more information, including The Men’s Wearhouse, the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising and Arizona State University. Workshop topics ranged from internship success to teen entrepreneurship, and many students enjoyed the chance to improve their skills and meet business professionals.
“I really enjoyed that this conference was really interesting and fun and additionally offered many more opportunities and things besides competing,” said Ronit Gagneja, grade 9. “In the workshop I went to, I learned to always have a positive attitude and believe in myself.”
Protégé events tested students’ aptitude in association/nonprofit management, event planning, green business, investing, insurance and real estate. Although these tests do not quality participants for ICDC, Harker still had many finalists, including Rishi Dange, grade 9, Enya Lu, grade 10, Arnav Joshi, grade 9, Jeffrey Liu, grade 9, Sachin Shah, grade 9, Bryan Wang, grade 9, Jessica Jiang, grade 9, Arun Sundaresan, grade 9, Johnny Wang, grade 10, Max Lee, grade 9, Evan Cheng, grade 9, Rohan Cherukuri, grade 9, Ronit Gagneja, grade 9, Mahi Kolla, grade 9, and Naveen Mirapuri, grade 9, Moreover, throughout the entire conference, students had a chance to network with other schools and expand their social connections.
“I really loved SCDC this year! It was such a great experience, and my favorite part was being able to meet so many new people and forming new friends,” said Riya Gupta, grade 10.
Finally, the Grand Awards Session occurred on Sunday morning. Harker performed admirably, earning the notice of other schools on YikYak after the constant cheering and staging of students.
“I really loved seeing the students in another light, really seeing what they’re passionate about, stepping out of their normal roles at school and just watching them get really excited about DECA,” said Kevin Williamson, Harker upper school dean of students and Harker DECA chaperone. “I was surprised by the level of professionalism that they showed, and the level of interest made it very exciting to be a part of the whole program.”
For some of the nine seniors in attendance, the 2017 state conference also marked the end of their DECA careers, causing a bittersweet moment. The entire chapter took a moment to recognize all their commitment and contributions to DECA over the past four years.
“I think that DECA conferences are crazy and thrilling, in a good way, and that I’m going to miss the people I met the most,” Chandra said. “Some of my best friends really came from DECA. Our officer team is all pretty close as well, so I’m definitely going to miss them! While it’s hard to move on from DECA, I think it’s time for a new chapter in my life, and I can’t wait to come back as an alumna and judge next year.”
Everyone then gathered to take chapter photos before saying goodbye to SCDC, ending yet another successful and amazing conference for Harker DECA. Qualifying students will have the opportunity to compete at ICDC in Anaheim April 25-30. Go Eagles!
About The Harker School DECA
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.