DECA takes on Orlando!


Niles West DECA in Orlando, FL.

By Gia Bexes, Features Editor

Niles West Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) traveled to Orlando, FL, where students competed at the International Career Development Conference (ICDC).  At the conference, more than 10,000 DECA members demonstrated their college and career knowledge and skills by participating DECA’s Competitve Events Program. The conference took place from Saturday, April 22 to Tuesday, April 25. All students who competed were finalists that qualified in their individual states, hoping to be named an international champions.

DECA is an International Competitive Business Club that has over 200,000 high school members. Niles West DECA currently has 180 student members this school year. “Our competitive season started in Jan. where 90 students attended the North Suburban Regional competition. 60 students attended the Illinois State DECA competition which was the first weekend in March; 21 of them qualified for the International competition by placing in the top of their competitive field,” Niles West DECA Advisor Tricia Brown said.

A four-day event, the trip consisted of much excitement and competition. ICDC begins with the Grand Opening Session that consists of an annual parade of competitors, recognition of award-winning chapters and a keynote speaker, Sterling Hawkins. “Competition spans three days where the students present their year-long DECA projects, test in their specific business career cluster, and/or present solutions to a business role-play in an interview format,” Brown said.

Every student who attended gained a sense of preparation for college and their future careers.  “Our students utilize their knowledge and skills by completing projects that require creative solutions and present them at different levels of competition,” Brown said.

The students competed against the best competitors from each state and country represented. Four students are International Finalists and out of those four, two of them are top 10 in the world. Sophomores Sara Ihmoud and Kelly Wingo were named international finalists, in the top ten percent of competitors for their “International Business Plan” project.  Also, seniors Mark Habash and Michael Massih were named top ten in the world for their “Project Management Business Solutions” project.

“It was a great learning opportunity and a bunch of fun. We had the opportunity to network and make connections with people from all over the world. I worked on a project with Kelly Wingo. Kelly and I went to the conference for a written project in the entrepreneurship section. Our project was an international business plan (IBP). Overall, we placed top two in our section and top 14 in the world for IBP,” Ihmoud said.

In preparation for competitions, DECA students work on their projects throughout the school year. Many of the projects allow them to have a learning experience of planning and organizing events, such as the Battle of the Junior Highs basketball tournament and a business career panel. Members also practice completing business problem-solving scenarios as well as studying business vocabulary.

DECA students and sponsors are elated to have placed as high as they did.  “The conference was a great experience to compete against others and in the end, we came out on top,” Massih said.