Planning for the future

DECA students prepare to head to nationals


CAPITAL BOUND: Eleven of the 19 DECA members qualified to attend the International Career Development Conference competition in Washington, D.C. this April. © 2014 Katy Macek

Story by Katy Macek, Copy Editor

Eleven finalists from UW-Eau Claire’s chapter of DECA, an international business and service organization, will head to Washington, D.C. on April 23 to compete in the International Career Development Conference.

DECA members competed in a state competition in Madison the weekend of March 6, and all of the 19 members qualified for the international conference, placing in the top eleven of their categories, including five that placed in the top three.

Aaron Polzin, a senior and chapter president of DECA, was one of those five, placing first in the Retail Management business simulation category.
Every student is placed in their own category and scores are calculated in the categories and overall, Polzin said. The competition consists of a 100-question multiple choice quiz followed by two role-plays, where he said students have a half hour to present a scenario within their category to the judges.

“It’s definitely a lot of thinking. You’ve got to come up with a plan and coming up with a plan in 30 minutes is kind of tough,” he said.

Polzin said he has been a member of DECA since his freshman year of high school and in the seven years he’s been involved has gone to nationals three times. This year marks his fourth, and he said he has high expectations for himself.

“I want to take first place,” he said. “I was there a couple years ago and placed top ten, so I think my next goal is just take first.”

Marissa Leners, sophomore and  first-year DECA member, also placed in  top three.

While Leners said she was surprised at how well she did, she realized the executive board did a good job of preparing DECA members for the role-play scenarios, and she said being at the conference was a cool experience for her.

“It was a lot of fun, and it was cool because it was all independent,” she said. “You were in charge of making it to your event, and no one was there watching to make sure you did it. It felt more professional that way.”

Emily Elsner Twesme has been the faculty adviser for DECA for the last three years. She said she was very impressed with how well the students performed because there are quite a few freshmen and sophomores on the team this year.

“I was just hoping that maybe people would do well,” Elsner Twesme said. “I didn’t want to put any kind of pressure or expectation, especially being that some of those students haven’t even taken business classes yet.”

The students involved this year are very self-sufficient, she said, and she is confident in their ability as they prepare for the nationals conference in April.

“They’re going to do fantastic, and either way they’re such great representations of our students and our college, and so that in and of itself I know they’re going to do well,” Elsner Twesme said.

Competition aside, she said she thinks the organization is a good way to prepare students for the real world, especially the conferences they attend because they put them in life-like situations.

“I think it’s just about one of the greatest experiences that anybody can get in college,” she said.  “Mostly because you are handed a piece of paper and … you have to just think on your feet, and that’s so much of what life in the real world is like.”