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Members of DECA were provided with the opportunity to enhance their skills on Friday, Oct. 26 at the Donald E Stephens Convention Center. Around 15 students decided to attend the optional field trip as a way to prepare and learn about role plays, which they will later have to execute at regionals on Jan. 25.

DECA is an organization that promotes careers related to business, with four areas centered in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. Students are able to participate in competitions that take their business knowledge and require them to apply it to real world situations. On top of increasinging the proficiency of intangible skills, such as interacting with others, DECA provides students with writing, presentation, communication and teamwork building blocks that can be used for other establishments and activities.

“DECA is really beneficial in the fact that it introduces students to skills that they will later on need in life. For example, for the role play event, students must act professionally and quickly in order to solve a problem, which can help them with interviews, as well as eye contact and poise,” said DECA sponsor Kristin Mazanowski.

The organization allows students to build confidence in their own projects as they continue to learn about the business world and how to maneuver around it successfully.

“My grandfather ran a business as well as my dad.  I grew more interested in DECA because I have personally started my own business, Scootle. With joining DECA I have been able to put what I learn back into my business and succeed with that,” sophomore Juhi Soni commented about the benefits of DECA.

Scootle, Soni’s business, aims to save people money by giving them a way to get to the bottom of their product containers. . “The average lotion bottle contains up to 25% waste than the traditional pump is unable to reach. Scootle will fit in any size bottle and convert it into a flexible scooper so that 25% becomes usable product and in turn saves you money.  Scootle can be used for various purposes such as saving the last bit of product from cosmetics, lotions and foods. Scootle recently received a patent and we are currently under manufacturing, planning to sell our products for $4.99 each,” said Soni.

In the upcoming regional competition, all participants will have to compete in a role play event, in which they get ten minutes to read a case and its problem in their section, whether it be finance, management, or some other category. The participants will then have to come up with a solution to a set of judges and attempt to answer questions to the best of their ability.

The purpose of the field trip was to help increase experience for their competition. Around 10 different workshops were available with four different time slots vacant for students. Students were required to go to two specific workshops–role play events and written events–and were given the freedom to choose the other two.

“The field trip really did help a lot. I went to a workshop that broke down what I needed to do to prepare myself for regionals. I also learned about what tips I could do while the process of role playing is happening,” said sophomore Madeline Larson.

Role play events are also open to teams, so one could choose to compete alone or with a partner. Team role play events are usually more intricate, as they allow 30 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to present it.

I really like the idea of team role plays. I think it’s a great way to collaborate and having two peoples ideas come together is definitely better than one. I’m really excited because team role plays get 30 minutes to prepare so in that time a lot of great plans can be created and that’s really what DECA is all about. However having a partner is also kinda scary, because you have another person relying on you and you guys have to be very compatible to make sure everything flows well,” said junior Zaid Usman.

In conjunction with the mandatory role plays, individuals are required to take two economic and business specific tests depending on their topic. While the role play event will differ for each, the economic test is the same for all students.

Along with the role plays and tests, students are given the opportunity to write a paper in order to qualify for state and then for nationals, which will take place in Orlando on April 27, 2019 to April 30, 2019.  The writing events are optional, but are mandatory if one wants to attend state and get to nationals. Writing events consist of organizing a 10-20 single spaced paper and preparing, as well as memorizing, a presentation for judges. While each paper will have different requirements, which are outlined in the DECA Guide, the papers will generally fall under the same idea, due to the objective for the paper changing every year. Students are able to work in a group for this event as well.

“This is my first time doing a written event. It really matters now because it will be how I get to state. It’s definitely scary, but being part of a team makes it easier because it’s not just my ideas, it’s all of ours,” said Usman.

With Illinois having around 1,400 DECA members, competition is bound to be tough. Usually three competitors  are selected to continue on to nationals, where 14,000 members compete. In 2011, Maine West was able to place first in the nationals team.

”What I like most about DECA is that students are working on networking, meeting people from other schools, professionals, judges, states, and so on. Individuals are encouraged to create professional business presentations that need to be well thought out, organized, memorized, and presented efficiently,” said Mazanowski.

On top of the field trip being a learning experience, the DECA officers were chosen on Oct. 26 as well.

“Juhi Soni and I had the chance to be a delegate, which meant that we were able to vote for the Illinois DECA President this year.  We were able to listen to eight different speeches from members and their plans for the program,” said Larson.

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