DECA Alumna Discovers the Leader Within Her
Early in February 2007, Gabriela Dineva, a junior at Ed. W. Clark High School’s Academy of Finance, stood in front of her camera practicing her business plan presentation for the millionth time. With every practice run, there was always something to improve. “When would it end,” she asked herself.
The Nevada DECA State Career Development Conference was just a few days away, and with all of the time and effort she had put into her prized business plan, she knew she needed to perfect everything about her presentation to win first place yet again in the International Business Plan competition.
Gabriela, or Gaby, had practiced so much that by the time she had to present at the conference, she could almost sing the entire 20 minutes of presentation time. This year, she had developed a 30-page business plan that outlined her dream entrepreneurial venture: a state-of-the art resort in her home country, Bulgaria. She had spent months researching everything from the most macro-level topics, such as laws and regulations, down to the most granular pieces of her plan to construct her financials.
An incredible effort for a student in high school, one might say. However, the dynamic is nothing short of “the usual” for a DECA student. Gaby had been in DECA since she began her high school career. She had pushed herself to grow not only as a leader, as she climbed up the DECA ladder, but as a thinker, innovator, presenter, and professional. The DECA experience transformed her from the incredibly shy and reserved individual she was when she first entered Clark High School in 2004, to who she is today: a fearless, outgoing, engaging, personable, ethical, and reliable leader.
Today, Gaby works for one of the four largest public accounting firms in the world, Ernst & Young. She holds a BSBA and MS in Accounting from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and is a Certified Public Accountant, all at the age of 24. She is a young professional who still holds her unforgettable experiences from DECA close to her heart. The skills she developed through DECA are now her “day-to-day” as she interacts with clients, conducts research, develops audit reports, and presents findings. She is never afraid to lead and tackle challenges head on. It is why she stands out and continues to serve with excellence.
Looking back at her years in DECA, Gaby is moved by her extraordinary transformation. She says DECA pushed her to, “get past the fear of public speaking,” and prepared her to face “real life business situations.” She is still amazed that she placed first in the International Business Plan competition not only in 2007, but also in 2008 when she came back with another plan to defend her title a third consecutive year as a senior.
The abilities of a student are sometimes deeply hidden. DECA was the key that helped release the powerful individual that existed within Gaby, and exists within all students who are willing to grab the key and unlock their potential with conviction.
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