By Elaine Zhai
From Jan. 4-6, nearly 100 students from The Harker School DECA chapter traveled to the Burlingame Waterfront Marriott to compete in the 2019 Silicon Valley Career Development Conference (SVCDC). Harker performed respectably, with 69 teams as overall finalists and 30 top three winners.
“SVCDC was a really great experience for all participants, both new and returning members. A lot of people were able to stage and place [in the] top 10 in their events, which was encouraging for everyone, especially as many returning members were trying new events,” said Shania Wang, grade 12, Harker DECA CEO. “Beyond that, I think that the spirit of the chapter was something really great to see, as everyone was supporting each other and cheering for every Harker member that went on stage. In general, we are at a wonderful place as a chapter and have really great momentum as we approach the states conference.”
Members placing in top 10 are as follows:
- Rishi Dange, grade 11, Accounting Applications Series
- Ronit Gagneja, grade 11, Automotive Services Marketing Series
- Mahi Kolla, grade 11, Entrepreneurship Individual Series
- Aditi Ghalsasi, grade 11, Start-Up Business Plan
- William Chien, grade 9, Principles of Finance
- David Feng, grade 11, Professional Selling Event
- Ghalsasi and Allison Jia, both grade 11, Travel and Tourism Marketing Team Decision Making Event
- Anay Karwal ,grade 11, Automotive Services Marketing Series
- Claire Luo, grade 10, Business Finance Series
- Arun Sundaresan, grade 11, Business Services Marketing Series
- Dange, Financial Consulting Event
- Phil Han, grade 11, Hospitality and Tourism Professional Selling
- Naveen Mirapuri, grade 11, Integrated Marketing Campaign – Event
- Simren Kochhar, grade 9, Principles of Business Management and Administration
- Victoria Han, grade 9, Principles of Marketing
- Evan Cheng, grade 11, Restaurant and Food Service Management Series
- Enya Lu and Shania Wang, both grade 12, Sports and Entertainment Marketing Team Decision Making Event
- Calais Poirson and Elaine Zhai, both grade 10, Buying and Merchandising Team Decision Making Event
- Andrea Thia grade 9, Business Growth Plan
- Sayon Biswas and Suraj Pakala, both grade 12, Entrepreneurship Team Decision Making
- Bryan Zhang, grade 10, Finance Operations Research Event
- Fonda Hu and Anvitha Tummala, both grade 10, Hospitality and Tourism Operations Research Event
On Friday, Harker DECA members and chaperones traveled to the Burlingame Waterfront Marriott for the first competitive conference of the 2018-2019 competitive season. While participants were waiting for hotel rooms, the Harker DECA officer team had Jamba Juice brought in for members to enjoy. Testing session began promptly after and took up the remainder of the day until the opening ceremony, at which the California DECA officer team welcomed all of the competitors with the SV Factor, the annual talent show, and officially kicked off the beginning of the conference.
Competitive events began early on Saturday morning, and teams made use of the leisure time before and between their competitive events to practice and receive some last-minute feedback from their officers and mentors.
“As a first year member attending my first conference, it was stressful at times to talk in front of a judge and answer the questions that they had impromptu,” said Rosh Roy, grade 10. “However, it was a wonderful learning experience and an opportunity to build and strengthen friendships, and I’m excited to bring this new knowledge into SCDC.”
After finishing their competitive events, members were given the rest of the day to explore Burlingame, relax and grab some dinner. Silicon Valley DECA also hosted the DECA Dance, a great opportunity to create networks with other members from different schools.
Early Sunday morning, all attendees and chaperones gathered for the award ceremony, where Harker proudly sent 69 teams to top 10 at the mini awards.
“Because it’s my first competitive DECA Conference, I didn’t think I would place, but then they called my name up,” said William Chien, grade 9, who was awarded first place in Principles of Finance. “It’s inspiring because I didn’t have as much experience as compared to some of my other competitors, but it really goes to show that if you do your best, you can achieve anything.”
After the mini awards, breakfast was served and not long after, the grand awards session began in the Grand Ballroom, where Harker members were continuously recognized. Overall, 30 teams placed as top 3 in their events, a monumental honor for the Harker DECA chapter.
After the grand awards, Enya Lu, grade 12, vice president of Silicon Valley DECA, announced the approaching end of her service on the Silicon Valley officer team, spoke about the accomplishments of her term and encouraged other members to campaign.
“It was a very bittersweet moment and it felt like time had passed so fast since when I went up on stage to speak at my last SVCDC,” said Lu. “However, I have about two months left in my term until states, and I’m looking forward to what I can do for SV during these months. Once again, I am incredibly thankful to my chapter that has supported me through their cheers, spirit and work.”
Overall, the 2018-19 SVCDC was an enormous success and a rewarding experience for all Harker DECA competitors and officers. All members were able to experience a competitive conference, gain useful preparation skills for the upcoming states competition, and leave feeling inspired and motivated to continue with their DECA journey.
“As a chapter advisor, I think this year’s SVCDC was a stellar kickoff to the competitive season,” said Juston Glass, Harker DECA chapter advisor. “It gave students confidence as they continue on to the states conference, and I’m proud of the effort, poise and determination that each student demonstrated to prepare for the competitions. Go Harker DECA!”
Every Friday and several Saturdays leading up to SVCDC, Harker DECA held weekly study sessions in the Innovation Center, where students could practice their role-plays in front of an officer, receive live feedback for their written events and take mock exams. To prepare for the California State Career Development Conference, DECA strongly advises all members to attend the weekly study sessions. 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 so that the next generation will be academically prepared, community oriented, professionally responsible and experienced leaders.
To learn more about this story, please contact Elaine Zhai, director of communications for Harker DECA, 21ElaineZ@students.harker.org.