Shrewsbury DECA seeks help to compete in California

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Shrewsbury DECA seeks help to compete in California
Members of the Shrewsbury DECA program pose for a group photo. (Photo/Courtesy)

SHREWSBURY – Shrewsbury DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) is back and better than ever.

The program found success in its inaugural year with several members competing at the international level just months after forming the club. This year, DECA has come back stronger.

While the team had 60 members last year, it now includes 219 competitors, making it the largest club at Shrewsbury High School (SHS).

Shrewsbury was well represented at the 65th Massachusetts DECA Career Development Conference, the state-level competition held at Hynes Convention Center in early March. In addition to the club’s tremendous growth being recognized, seven Shrewsbury competitors were crowned state champions.

“I feel like we’re doing similar things, but we’re more organized this year. Last year, we were figuring out things as we went, but this year we know what to expect more, and we already had things in place we could build off of,” DECA Secretary James Troy said.

As the team finishes another remarkable season, DECA is turning to the community for support.

What is DECA?

DECA is an organization with over 250,000 high school members at nearly 4,000 schools around the world. According to the organization’s website, DECA “prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.” Students compete in business-related competitions designed to test business acumen and on-the-spot reasoning skills.

Jason Andreola, an instructional technology teacher at SHS, advises the club; DECA Vice President Swathi Kannan said “none of this would be possible without him.” Many DECA students decided to join the team after taking finance- and business-related courses.

RELATED CONTENT: Shrewsbury DECA team finds success in inaugural year

“I think last year we already had a lot of demand for some sort of business club. With DECA we had the word of mouth going around: We’re a business club, we compete in competitions, and it gives people exposure to the business world,” DECA Co-President Fawwaz Naeem told the Community Advocate.

“People… really enjoyed the experience [last year] and took a lot out of it. So, they told their friends, and through word of mouth they were able to get other people to join,” said fellow DECA Co-President Shiv Patel.

First-year member Cristian Salvan agreed with Patel, noting that “having an opportunity to compete in a business setting was really popular” and that “word of mouth spread very quickly.”

And although Shrewsbury students joined the team in droves, DECA members said it’s not necessarily about the number of people: It’s how committed those people are.

“It’s not just numbers. It’s the passion our school community has. It’s incredible to see over 100 people growing in the span of the year… Since you compete in teams and there’s so many different categories, it encompasses a lot of different passions,” said Kannan.

Anaheim ambitions

Like last year, several members of Shrewsbury’s DECA team have qualified to compete on the international stage.

On April 27, approximately 20,000 students from around the world will gather in Anaheim, California, for the 2024 DECA ICDC (International Career Development Conference). With any luck, Shrewsbury students will be in attendance, but with the cost of the flights and lodging, the team will need to raise roughly $25,000 for all students to attend.

When speaking with the Community Advocate, DECA members said that the conference was an invaluable opportunity to not only compete at the highest stage but also to network with fellow business-minded individuals. Fortune 500 companies, colleges and other groups have booths at the event to interact with students.

“We noticed that even though we’re going there to compete… networking is [also] a really huge part of it. DECA does a really good job making sure students network with each other and with other associations and businesses,” said DECA Events Director Mariyah Khokhar, referencing her experience at last year’s ICDC in Orlando, Florida.

DECA team members described the transformative ICDC experience.

“If you’re going to these competitions, it offers you the experience of competing on a big stage. You get to… feel more confident. It helps you to really understand the mechanism of preparing for something, calming your nerves… and talking to people. It helps you feel more comfortable in your own shoes,” said first-year member Daniel Molina.

“It’s a completely different experience being at a conference with that many people at that large of a scale,” DECA Director of Fundraising and Sponsorships Nuha Salam told the Community Advocate.

If you’d like to make a donation to help Shrewsbury’s DECA team travel to Anaheim, please contact Assistant Superintendent for Community Partnerships and Well-Being Jane Lizotte at [email protected].

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