Finding the Courage to “Jump Out of the Plane” at #DECAPowerTrip 2017

Destiny Druso | Akron North DECA
Akron North DECA members at the 2017 Ultimate DECA Power Trip.

All too often throughout our short lives we don’t take every opportunity we are given. Sometimes its because of fear or thinking about the worst possible outcomes, but for whatever reason we find ourselves just scared to take that “jump out of the plane.”

From here on out, I have decided that I am going to take that “jump” and never let the fear of failing cost me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m Destiny Druso and this is my personal experience at the 2017 Ultimate DECA Power Trip in Philadelphia, Penn.

My journey to Philadelphia began on Friday at Akron North High School in Akron, Ohio, at 7:00 AM. Only five kids out of the sophomores and juniors from my chapter had a chance to attend this trip, so you can image the incredible feeling I had because I was chosen for this opportunity. Along with me was Ke’Aira McReynolds, Mezekiah Tobias, Angela Morales and Jaron Davis. We had a six to seven hour drive ahead of us, from here I’m guessing you can imagine we all were sleeping by the time we got to Pennsylvania.

I had attened a DECA event before, so I felt prepared for what I was about to experience. However, when we arrived at the #DECAPowerTrip opening session, it was nothing like I imagined. There were so many kids from all over the country, and an abundance of energy flowing through the crowd of students. It didn’t matter if you were only a first-year DECA member or even a fourth-year, everyone was just so excited to be a part of the conference during the weekend.

As I was standing at the back of the ballroom with the other students from my chapter, Mr. Mathews, our DECA advisor, and Ms. Rice, our chaperone, began to announce the states that were attending the conference. We were only a small group from Ohio, but there were groups as big as twenty to thirty students other states. At first, I felt foreign to this new level of intelligence and intensity, even though I attended DECA camp before. Finally, we found some seats in the crowded ballroom and got ready for the opening session keynote speaker to take the stage.

This very powerful keynote was given by Alex Sheen, the founder of a nonprofit called “because I said I would.” Alex talked about the importance of keeping a promise no matter how tough it gets. There are times in life where you just want to give up and quit when it gets rough. All you would be doing is giving up on yourself and letting yourself down. Instead, Alex advised us to try taking small steps, instead of stressing out over all the huge tasks all at once. That perfectly describes my life. I take on too many tasks all at once and I stress myself out to the point I want to give up.

Alex taught me the importance of keeping promises to myself and others. Even though we have those rough patches in our lives, where we want to break our promises, that doesn’t mean we should. Once we complete the task we had in front of us, the most satisfying sense of pride and accomplishment will make all our hard efforts worthwhile.

After the opening session ended, we moved on to our first learning lab for the weekend. We all decided to stick together that weekend and made our way to “Family Feud- The DECA Way.” Mind you, all five of us are first year members and don’t really know much about DECA, but we still figured that it would be a fun experience. When we arrived we actually started to think, “What did we get ourselves into?” However, once the game actually started, we realized we knew more than what we thought we did! Even though we didn’t win, it was still a fun learning experience and I learned what to be prepared for in competition.

Our next learning lab we agreed to attend was, “Are You A Superhero Leader?” This consisted of a series of mini games we did in small groups, while each group had a very important quality of a leader it taught, from patience to improvising. After we finished our last lab, it was time to get some food and head upstairs to our hotel rooms to prepare for the long day ahead of us.

The night felt like it passed by so fast and before we even knew it Ke’Aira, Angela, and I were getting up at 5:30 AM to prepare for Saturday. This was the most important day, because we had our practice role-play, which scared me half to death. Before we started our day, we met with the other DECA chapters that were part of the #DECAATTProject; I never realized that there were so many other chapters who worked with AT&T!

We got to meet and network with one another, learning more about DECA and helping us prepare for the practice role-play we had later in the day. Before we all left and went our separate ways for the day, we took a quick group picture. After that, we headed out of the room and went to visit the exhibits; these were colleges and other programs to help us with our future. I learned a great deal about many different colleges and feel I have a better understanding of all my choices for when the time to decide gets closer. Even the programs they had for high school students were amazing, and there were so many that could help us obtain scholarships.

After we had finished the exhibits, we went to our first learning lab for the day called, “Managing Your Digital Footprint.” This lab was very informational; it taught the importance of being professional. Once you post something online, it stays there forever – even if you try to delete it, there is always going to be a trace of that post in cyberspace. Many jobs and colleges look on your social media accounts to see if you are the right fit for the spot and if you are a responsible individual.

From this lab, we went into our next one which was about creative thinking. This was probably the best lab of the whole weekend. We sorted ourselves into groups with people we have never met before and were handed a piece of paper with riddles. We were given time to work individually, then as a whole group. As I was looking at the paper, I was thinking to myself, “I have no idea what any of these mean, how could anyone possibly figure these out?”

When it was time for us to finally work as group, it all became crystal clear. The thing that I thought was the most difficult was so easy. When we work as a team we can accomplish anything.

Once the lab was over at 11:30, the girls and I headed off to lunch and came back to our hotel room to eat. Our practice role-play was scheduled for 1:30 that afternoon, so when we were finished eating we began to get ready and make our way down to the grand ballroom where our role-play was held. I knew how the role-play was supposed to go because while at DECA camp and in class we practiced them, but not in front of a judge before. I felt my hands shaking while we were being told how to present ourselves when it was our turn to go. When we were finally allowed to begin our role-play, I rushed to write down my performance indicators and then began to read the situation. I tried to keep calm, but in my head, my thoughts were just rushing around like crazy. Soon, time was up, and we were going to present.

I presented my information to my best ability, but I still think I could have done a lot better, even though it was just for practice. Once the day was finally over, we went out to dinner with another DECA chapter, and we got to know them and learn more about DECA over gelato. They were so nice and open to answering any questions we had.

After we finished with our ice cream, we made our way to Lucky Strike for the DECA After Dark event. Here we were able to play pool, air hockey, giant jenga, ping-pong, bowl and eat pizza. We made friends, we laughed and had a good time. Even though we left a little early, we still enjoyed ourselves after a long day. When we arrived back at the hotel, it was time for us to start packing and get ready to head home the next day after closing session.

When morning finally came it was around 7:30 AM, we gathered our things together in one room so we were able to leave before we hit a whole crowd of students. We made our way down to closing session and it was so energetic. Our speaker, EJ Carrion, had the crowd up and moving around; nobody felt left out or excluded. He told us the story about how he went to the highest place in the world to skydive. As he built on to his story, it started to teach us a very important lesson. Don’t be afraid to take risk in your life because you’ll never know the outcome of anything if you don’t try.

Overall, the weekend was a fun learning experience that I could never replace. I made friends and learned life lessons that will always help me in the future. Whenever hurdles are thrown at me, I will be able to take them on head first because I’m willing to take that risk even if it means I will fail.

When competition comes I will be ready because I have been set up with the information and skills to help me. I will be my best in everything I do “because I said I would.”

This article was written by Akron North DECA member, Destiny Druso. You can learn more about the #DECAATTProject by following #DECAATTProject on Twitter. Follow DECA on Twitter @DECAInc and AT&T @ATT and @ConnecttoGood. 

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