DECA Shines the Spotlight on Seventy-First DECA and AT&T's Aspire Mentoring Academy

DECA traveled to Fayetteville, N.C., on Wednesday, October 28, 2015, to capture footage for a special video showcasing the impact of the AT&T Aspire Mentoring Academy on DECA members at Seventy-First High School.

The Aspire Mentoring Academy is an AT&T funded project aimed at improving high school graduation rates and preparing high school students for college and careers. This year, DECA and AT&T employees participating in Aspire Mentoring Academy will work in 12 national markets across the United States.

DECA’s trip to Fayetteville allowed for a unique opportunity to capture testimonials from DECA members, advisors, school officials and AT&T employees on the project.

“I’m excited about the relationship with AT&T because it has enabled [our chapter] to do so much more,” said Sydney Johnson, a Seventy-First DECA chapter member. “Last year we only had six chapter members, and now have 35. Being able to tell other students about all the new opportunities available to our chapter because of the AT&T contribution has increased the interest in joining.”

The many opportunities provided by AT&T have not only affected the chapter members, but have also left an impression on the school’s principal, a former marketing teacher and DECA advisor.

“When they brought the idea here [for the AT&T project], I immediately flashed back to my years as a teacher and DECA advisor,” said Myron Williams, Seventy-First High School’s principal. “What a great opportunity for teachers and kids. Being able to first gain the knowledge through the subject matter and to then be able to apply it in competition, plus get exposure at conferences and with professionals like at AT&T, it all creates a mindset that can change a student’s whole life.”

Chip Lucas, CTE Director for Cumberland County Schools, echoed Williams’ excitement about having AT&T present at Seventy-First.  

“This is a great opportunity for Seventy-First and Cumberland County schools,” Lucas said. “It’s wonderful to have such a recognizable company as AT&T present.”

Lucas also commented on the importance of AT&T’s connection to Seventy-First, especially because of the high concentration of students from military families.

“It’s important for military students to connect with a brand that is in their community and nationally, so they can feel at home wherever they are.”

Seventy-First DECA member Alexis Vasquez-Morgan agreed that having a unique connection to AT&T has given her a sense of comfort.

“Having a mentor gives you guidance in this big world,” Alexis said. “You need someone who has the experience to show you the right direction.”

Terri Peoples, the marketing teacher and DECA advisor at Seventy-First, agreed with Alexis that having a reputable company like AT&T take interest in the students at Seventy-First has been a tremendous honor.

“The students are blown away that a company like AT&T is interested in helping them,” Peoples said. “Their perspectives have totally changed and so many doors are now open for them.”

James Elder, the Vice President of Seventy-First DECA, can see his options are already opening up because of DECA and the AT&T project.

“This is my first year in DECA and I feel like I’ve already gotten better with public speaking and I’ve gained leadership skills and more confidence. AT&T is helping me too, by preparing me now so I can one day achieve my dream of becoming part of corporate America.”

“This whole experience has shown me that AT&T has faith in us,” Alexis Vasquez-Morgan said. “[AT&T] believes that we can make a difference, and they feel that they can invest in us.”

Although this is Seventy-First DECA’s first year as part of the AT&T project, the impact their AT&T ambassador, Future Robinson, has had on the members so far is remarkable.

Beyond preparing students for graduation, college and career, Robinson hopes his impact on the students will continue for many years to come.

“Ten years from now, I hope this experience will inspire [the students] to give back too,” he said.

DECA would like to extend a special thank you to the Douglas Byrd High School Programming & Broadcasting class, the Seventy-First High School Photography Class and to the Cumberland County Schools videographer, Nakol Lovett, for their assistance in videotaping.

DECA would also like to thank North Carolina DECA, Pam O’Brien and the Seventy-First High School for their tremendous hospitality.

Stay tuned to for more information on the release of the video.

Follow DECA on Twitter @DECAInc, and follow AT&T @ConnectToGood.

Categories: Advisors, Businesses & Organizations, DECA News, High School, Profiles