This article prepared from a report by Shania Wang, grade 10, vice president of public relations for Harker’s DECA chapter.
Students in Harker’s DECA chapter traveled to Anaheim for the 2017 International Career Development Conference (ICDC) this spring. The conference consisted of tough competitions, inspiring leadership academies and unforgettable memories. Eight teams from Harker DECA ended up in the preliminary finalists round. Six of those eight teams had the opportunity to compete in the finalist round, with three teams placing in the Top 10, one team taking third place and one student taking first place.
Finalists are as follows:
Evan Cheng, grade 9, Principles of Hospitality and Tourism
Nishka Ayyar, Riya Gupta, both grade 10, Business Law and Ethics Team Decision Making
Top 10 Finalists
Enya Lu, grade 10, Business Finance Series
Shania Wang, grade 10, Public Relations Project
Neelesh Ramachandran, grade 11, Virtual Business Challenge – Accounting
Top 20 Finalists
Haley Tran, grade 12, Restaurant and Food Service Management
Testing – Top 10 Finalists
Shreyas Chandrashekaran, grade 11, Sports and Entertainment Marketing Series
Mona Lee, grade 11, Apparel and Accessories Marketing Series
Wednesday, some students ran the DECA 5K at Angel Stadium to raise money and awareness for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. That evening, members attended the grand opening session, along with the 19,000 other ICDC attendees. The session included a fashion show presented by the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, an inspiring keynote keynote speaker, and performances from country singer Billy Gilman and band Echosmith.
Three students began their Emerging Leader Series in the Ignite Academy to build their leadership skills, and the next day, the group gave presentations and performed in role plays in the initial round of the competition.
“The atmosphere before our presentation was definitely different than previous conferences. We were sitting among tough competitors, and this definitely stressed us out,” said Katelyn Vo, grade 9, competitor in Fashion Merchandising Plan. “However, my partners and I pulled through, and I think we did really well overall. It was a great experience getting to compete at ICDC.”
After the competitive events and academies concluded, members could visit Disneyland for the rest of the day. Students also had the chance to visit the booths including exhibits by various business colleges and corporations.
Saturday was the last full day of ICDC. In the morning, students and chaperones gathered for the achievement awards session to find out whether they would move on to the final round of competitions taking place that day. In each event, approximately 20 competitors from the more than 200 teams would advance to finals. Top participants for presentations, career cluster exams and overall performers were recognized individually. Harker had an amazing turnout, with eight teams receiving the opportunity to come up on stage for their achievements. A total of six teams qualified to compete in the final round of competitions.
“In terms of competition, Harker DECA had its most successful ICDC thus far, which is really a result of everyone’s hard work over the past year,” said Shreyas Chandrashekaran, grade 11, Harker DECA co-CEO and testing finalist in Sports and Entertainment Marketing Series. “I loved seeing how much these students learned and improved regardless of whether they were finalists or not. Everyone was cheering on and rooting for their fellow students, and there was a real sense of camaraderie among them. We really came together as a group and that really contributed to the overall high energy of the chapter this year,” he said.
Five Harker teams were announced as top 10 finalists. The group roared its approval when Cheng was announced as first place winner in the Principles of Hospitality and Tourism event, and that Ayyar and Gupta received third place in the Business Law and Ethics Team Decision Making event.
“It felt amazing going on stage,” said Gupta. “We didn’t believe it and it was really surreal, but we realized our accomplishment afterwards and my partner and I were really happy. I will truly never forget this moment.”
Wang, a top 10 finalist in Public Relations Project, also was recognized on stage for being a part of the ICDC Anaheim Live Social Media Team. Throughout the conference, she worked with DECA Inc. staff to ensure satisfactory social media coverage on all outlets. As part of the editorial team, Shania also wrote several articles for DECA Direct that will be posted in the upcoming weeks.
After the awards ceremony, Harker DECA celebrated all of their accomplishments throughout the past year with the rest of California DECA at the state dinner. ICDC 2017 definitely was one to remember for attendees.
“ICDC this year was an unforgettable experience for the Harker DECA chapter. We were able to come exceptionally prepared with our strongest competitors and they saw great success!” said Juston Glass, Harker DECA advisor. “My hope is that the positive energy experienced here will carry on into next year and bring our chapter to the next level. Most importantly, students were able strengthen their business acumen, develop professionally and grow in confidence as emerging leaders and entrepreneurs. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them as they own their future.”