by Joe Pruski, Associate Editor, DeForest Times-Tribune (published with permission)
DeForest Area High School junior Lauren Bayer came into the Wisconsin DECA State Career Development Conference as one of more than 10,000 members statewide. Following a successful campaign, Bayer left the conference as the newly elected president of the state delegation.
Twenty-four students from across the state ran for the top spot during the three-day annual conference held in Lake Geneva on March 10-12. Following a formal application – which included letters of recommendation, resume, and portfolio – Bayer delivered two speeches, proposed a statewide initiative, and participated in both group and individual interviews with a 17-member selection committee. At the end of a rigorous process, Bayer was chosen as the 50th state president.
“I started crying when I found out. I definitely wanted this for a very long time. I told myself I wasn’t going to (cry), but I’m ecstatic, really. I am so excited. I think it’s going to be an amazing year and an amazing opportunity,” Bayer said.
Bayer, who joined DECA as a freshman (and qualified for state competition), was an officer in the DAHS chapter as a sophomore and is its president this year.
She said that when she first decided to join the organization that she was unaware of the impact it would have on her life.
“It was the ‘fun club’ and people said it was a good way to go on lots of trips,” Bayer recalled. “So I just joined thinking ‘okay, everyone is doing it,’ but I really loved it.”DAHS chapter advisor and Wisconsin DECA board president John Webster said that he saw potential in Bayer from the beginning.
“I saw something special in Lauren freshman year. I’m like, ‘this girl is going places,’ and I’d like to see it happen in DECA,” Webster said.
Asked what that “something” was, Webster described Bayer’s drive in setting and achieving goals, and her ability to follow through once a goal is set.
“When she sees something she wants she’s going to work hard to achieve it,” Webster added.
In her new post Bayer’s top priority will be to increase the state’s competitiveness in international competition. In practice that will mean outlining the main initiatives of the state’s leadership team, leading the state meeting, and serving as a voting delegate for national offices.
“State DECA does a great job of grooming these kids, these young ladies and men, into leaders,” Webster said. “They get a lot of training and a lot of hands on that really turn them into professionals at a young age.”
Prior to joining DECA Bayer saw herself pursuing a career in music. The positive experience in the marketing organization, however, has altered her future plans. The goal now is to study international business at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
“DECA has changed my career plans. Before I wanted to go into music, and I still love music, but I used to think I’d never have a career in business. Now I want to study business, and that’s because of DECA,” Bayer said.
The DAHS chapter of DECA has previously had two state officers, but Bayer is the first ascend to the state organization’s highest post.
Webster sees Bayer’s rise as an important achievement for the organization and for the school.
“I think it says we’re in the game and heading in the right direction. We’re developing our students into leaders like we’re supposed to. The goal of DECA is working with emerging leaders and helping them develop all of their potential,” Webster said.
THE BEST OF THE REST
While Lauren Bayer’s election as state DECA president was a major highlight of the state conference in Lake Geneva, DAHS also had eight students qualify to compete at the International Career Development Conference in Orlando next month.
Cody Kramschuster placed first in the Accounting Applications category, Bayer placed second in Business Services Marketing, Clayton Gotzion placed third in Business Finance, Eric Fabian placed fifth in Principles of Business, Abbi Marks qualified for the Emerging Leaders Training, and Abby Williams, Abi Gardiner, and Kalyee Sadeghpour-Hess qualified as a group for their fifth place performance in the Advertising Campaign Project.
DeForest’s DECA chapter boasts a membership of roughly 200 students, 70 of which competed at the district level this year and 21 who competed at state.
The eight international competition qualifiers will travel by bus to Orlando on April 23.