Making the Impossible, Possible – A Candidate’s Campaign Journey
It wasn’t until November, after the South Dakota Fall Leadership Conference was completed and it was time to get ready for the Central Region Leadership Conference, that my mind turned to national office. I knew if I was going to run, I should focus on creating a good impression in Detroit. I was hesitant at first of the idea, but after some thought I knew this was what I was meant to do.
I traveled with my chapter and association officer team to CRLC and socialized with hundreds of conference attendees and fellow officers. This was where the flame sparked. I wrote down different ideas, asked my association officer team for help and tried to formulate a campaign that was simple, effective and to the point. My campaign, Carter CAN was finalized in early January.
January through April were the busiest months of my life. Fundraising, planning, and designing the campaign, while also balancing schoolwork, graduation plans, and “getting ready for college” consumed my days. I knew that I had to get ready for college no matter what; if I lost the election I would need a back up plan. I took Morgan Thompson’s words of advice to heart: “While you are striving to win, you also need to have a plan in case you lose this election.” I had to be ready for anything.
Coming from an association with only two voting delegates, I knew that the odds were not in my favor. My advisors were supportive of all the effort I was putting into a campaign they knew would go up against others from strong associations. This dream seemed impossible to them, but not to me.
I had contacted dozens of businesses for sponsorships, spent hours and hours researching things for my platform, while also working with a graphic designer to get the visual brand of my campaign ready to go. Before I knew it, it was already early April! I put the finishing touches on the campaign, had final team meetings, and then set off on the journey to Anaheim.
It all started with the nominating committee interview on Wednesday morning, accompanied by the release of the voting delegate list. After dozens and dozens of calls and scheduling, we went to construct my booth with campaign team members. Once that was completed, it was back to the hotel to get caucus materials ready, take a deep breath, and prepare for the next three days of meetings and speeches. After opening session, caucuses started right away. For the next two days, we traveled to over 43 different caucuses and met with hundreds of voting delegates from across the globe. I gave my speech on Thursday to over 400 advisors and voting delegates, and continued to meet even more of them for the following hours. The days were long, going from 6:00 AM to midnight, but I knew all my efforts were worth it.
The week flashed before my eyes and suddenly it was Saturday night. After three hours of awards, it was finally time for the announcement of the 2013-2014 National Officer Team. My heart was pounding and my association members were on the edge of their seats. The announcer said, “Your new DECA President is… Carter Christensen from South Dakota!” I couldn’t believe it. My hard work paid off.
When I got back to the hotel, we had one final association meeting. Applause, farewells from the 2012-2013 South Dakota association officer team, and a few tears were shared. The moment, however, was of happiness. What we set our minds to we had accomplished. Months of hard work paid off and a new energy was forming for the next year. We could already feel it.
The biggest thing I can say to everyone that was involved in this process is thank you. What we thought was impossible was made possible. What was once a dream is now a reality. Now is the time for us to move forward, and make this next year the best year in the history of our organization.
Now is the time for us to Make it Count.
Follow Carter on Twitter @DECACarter.