by Cole Bayer, Senior at DeForest Area High School
On April 26th, nine DeForest Area High School students traveled 1,315 miles to compete at the 2019 DECA International Career Development Conference in Orlando, Florida. The conference featured over 20,000 emerging leaders and entrepreneurs from around the globe, gathered to prepare themselves in career fields such as marketing, finance, hospitality, and management. The high school DECA members attending the six-day trip were Rachel Anderson, Cole Bayer, Beau Blackdeer, Jacob Chambers, Owen Chambers, Gift Chujor, Sam Fischer, Mason Hoffman, and Audrey Williams, along with chapter advisor and marketing teacher John Webster.
Despite each student facing over 200 competitors in their event, the chapter still saw unprecedented success, with five international award winners. Blackdeer medaled in a Retail Merchandising series case study, and Williams (Apparel and Accessories Marketing), Bayer (Sports and Entertainment Marketing), Chujor and Hoffman (Entrepreneurship Team Decision Making) all advanced to the secondary round of competition as finalists (top 20 in their respective series). Within the past three years, DeForest DECA has seen only two of its members in the finals, so four was a huge success.
The highlight of the conference, however, came when Audrey Williams won first place in her Apparel and Accessories Marketing Event, having not only beaten out her fellow international qualifiers, but an estimated 10,000 students who competed in the same event over the course of various district and state conferences. In fact, everyone attending the conference could be considered the cream of the crop in a pool of thousands of competitors, making Williams’ victory, as well as the accomplishments of everyone else in the chapter, that much more impressive.
When asked about the experience of winning first place, Williams replied, “I was honestly surprised about the result. It was a surreal moment, sort of a blur, and I could barely hear my name because of how loud the chapter was screaming, so shout out to them.”
Says a very proud Webster of the chapter’s achievements, “It was an exciting year for DeForest DECA. It was quite an accomplishment to have a first place winner and numerous other students recognized. It will certainly set the bar high for chapter members to come, but we’re confident that the future is bright.”