In late April, 20 students from Harker’s DECA chapter attended the 2016 International Career Development Conference (ICDC) at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn., with great results!
“The four-day business conference featured competitions with tough opponents, skill-building leadership academies and unforgettable experiences,” said Shania Wang, grade 9, director of communications for DECA.
Two Harker teams finished in the top 20 during preliminary competitions, earning them the chance to compete in the final round and, for the first time in Harker DECA history, a student from the chapter received first place in a role-play event at ICDC. Enya Lu, grade 9, took top honors in the principles of finance category, while teammates Dolan Dworak, Brandon Mo and Michael Sikand, all grade 10, were finalists in the independent business plan category.
The group began its trip with a DECA-sponsored 5K run in nearby Shelby Park to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). Afterward, competitors attended a competition preparation session with rest of California DECA and received their registration packets, including California bucket hats and state trading pins.
The day ended with the grand opening session, where Harker joined nearly 18,000 high school DECA members from all over the world. The official start to ICDC, this session featured a fashion show by the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM), keynotes from Marriott executives and a performance by country singer Lauren Alaina.
The next day, Sunday, students took written examinations and attended event briefings. Aside from the 15 students competing, five members began their Emerging Leader Series, with four in the Thrive division and one in Ignite. Afterward, the chapter enjoyed a fun night on the beautiful Cumberland River aboard the General Jackson Showboat.
Monday consisted of all preliminary competitive events, as well as the finale of the Emerging Leader Series. Harker DECA members attended the Nashville Sounds vs. New Orleans Zephyrs minor league baseball game.
On Sunday and Monday, students could go to the Exhibit Hall throughout the day. The career exhibits featured colleges, companies and organizations, and gave students the chance to network and meet new people. These booths allowed members to learn about business opportunities beyond high school. Campaign booths were also available to learn more about those running for next year’s DECA executive positions.
“It was a great opportunity to learn about how business works in a culture like that of Nashville and get feedback from local business owners about how to appeal to a non-Bay Area market,” said Shreyas Chandrashekaran, grade 10, Harker DECA vice president of competitions and strategy and a competitor in the finance operations research category.
Spirits ran high on Tuesday, the last official day of ICDC. That morning, students attended the achievement awards session, when they learned whether they would be one of the 20 teams to advance to the final round of competition in their events.
Harker advanced two teams into the final round of competitions: Lu and the team of Dworak, Mo and Sikand. While those students competed, the rest of the chapter explored the downtown area and got a taste of Nashville at Rippy’s Bar & Grill. Later that evening, all California DECA members came together for a group photo before heading over to the grand awards session.
After applauding for the new national executive team, many scholarship recipients and numerous finalists, Harker DECA exploded in cheers as Lu was named a top 10 finalist. Within minutes, it was announced that Lu won first place in her event, principles of finance – the first time in chapter history that a Harker member received first in role-play at ICDC.
“It felt amazing,” said Lu. “I was very surprised and I was kind of scared when I went up. I was really excited and I thought that I did well already, but I really wasn’t expecting it. When they announced third and second, I thought that I wouldn’t get it, but then I did, and it was amazing.”
Everybody was beaming with smiles as they finished their last night at ICDC with the state dinner with rest of California DECA, noted Wang.
“This year’s ICDC was an amazing experience for students who were able to connect professionally, serve their community, and develop further as future business professionals and emerging leaders,” added Juston Glass, Harker DECA advisor.
On Wednesday, Harker DECA took a chapter photo before heading to the airport. “ICDC was the last conference of the year and definitely an unforgettable experience for all those that attended,” said Wang. “Harker DECA is proud of another successful competitive season and looks forward to next year.”