DECA Members Share Their #DECAATTProject Inauguration Watch Party Experience

As part of the #DECAATTProject, DECA members from Ohio and Pennsylvania were invited to participate in inauguration watch parties hosted by AT&T.

Two DECA members shared their experiences at the watch parties, as well as how these AT&T watch parties have impacted their awareness of politics. Check out their insightful stories below!


Ohio DECA Members Prove That High School Students Can Be Politically Active

Dajanae’ Holmes | North High School DECA | Akron, Ohio

On Friday, January 20, 2017, DECA members from my school, North High School (OH), and some from Cleveland Heights High School (OH), were given another opportunity to attend an inauguration watch party.

It was a follow-up to the watch party AT&T hosted for #DECAATTProject students during the Republican National Convention (RNC), and this time it was for the inauguration of the 45th President of the United Sates, Donald Trump.

Although I expected to just go and watch the inauguration, the event included many other fun activities, like a Jeopardy game on the history of our inaugurations, which was still fun even though we didn’t know many of the answers. In addition to the fun activities, some of us were interviewed by newspaper reporters and several television news crews in attendance.

I had the honor of being interviewed, and also interviewed a couple of people myself, one of them being Dr. Thomas Sutton. Dr. Sutton is a professor at Baldwin Wallace University, where the watch party was held.

The professor mentioned that Baldwin Wallace University loves working with students, so it was a great honor for North High School and Cleveland Heights High School to attend such a special event at their campus.

The Akron Beacon Journal also realized the significance of this event, and one of their journalists, Theresa Cottom, was even in attendance that night. Cottom said it was important for the Beacon Journal to cover the watch party because it showed the community that young people are politically active. She also believed that it unique that high school students were attending an event like this because she had never seen so many young people taking an active interest in today’s political arena.

However, the whole reason that we were able to attend an event like this was because AT&T has provided both North and Cleveland Heights High Schools with opportunities for this and other mentoring events throughout the year through the AT&T Aspire Mentoring Program. The Ohio DECA advisor, Jerry Kuhn, said the fact that AT&T wants to work with us in this way is great, and serves as an important collaboration for DECA.

Lastly, our AT&T ambassador Tania Thomas, said she volunteers for our schools because she has a passion to help the youth and she enjoys being our mentor because she loves watching us mature and grow into smart young adults.

Overall this was a very influential day with many connections to business. We met many people who could potentially provide valuable connections for us in the future. While we were having a good time enjoying our activities and mingling with other students and mentors, the event extended our learning beyond the classroom.

Learning from this day will have an effect our future, whether it’s in a big or small way.


Witnessing History With Our Own Eyes Thanks to the #DECAATTProject

Nikos Papanikolau | George Washington High School DECA | Philadelphia, Penn.

Continuing the momentum from the 2016 Democratic National Convention watch party, the AT&T Aspire Mentoring Academy hosted a watch party on January 20, 2017, in honor of the presidential inauguration.

The event was held at the AT&T Corporate Office location in King of Prussia, Penn., and students from both George Washington High School and Kensington High School attended.

We all felt very fortunate to be able to witness the peaceful transition of power as Mr. Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America, and hear his inaugural address as it happened live.

You would think watching an inauguration on TV would be a boring and exhausting experience, but that is not how any AT&T Aspire event is run, and this watch party was nothing short of fun and entertaining!

As soon as we settled down, we caught up with familiar #DECAATTProject mentors and met with some new ones too. We played a 20-questions game with our mentors and got to understand how they became involved with the Aspire program, as well as how their careers developed. I enjoyed hearing how some of our mentors perform their jobs and how their original career plans were carried out or altered.

Afterwards, we watched intently as President Trump was sworn into office and delivered his inauguration speech. Prior to the start of his speech, we picked keywords out of a hat and were given AT&T cowbells to ring every time we heard our word in the President’s speech and the winner would receive a prize. Let’s just say whoever had the word “America” was one happy camper by the end of the speech.

I want to say thank you to AT&T for continuing the Aspire Mentoring Academy and providing us with the absolute best mentors, not to mention the awesome events. Also, I believe our mentors deserve recognition for being so open with us and always being very compassionate and accommodating.


AT&T’s support of DECA is part of the company’s signature philanthropic initiative, AT&T Aspire, which aims to help more students succeed in school and beyond. To learn more about the project between DECA and AT&T Aspire, follow #DECAATTProject on Twitter.

Follow DECA on Twitter @DECAInc, and AT&T at @ATT and @ConnecttoGood.

Categories: Advisors, DECA News, High School

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