The Next Step: The Road So Far on My Collegiate DECA Journey
I have been a part of DECA since my senior year of high school, where I fell in love with the organization and gained so much from it. Since I was very sad that I only was able to enjoy one year of DECA in high school, I decided to take DECA to college, which turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. In this article, I will share with you my DECA journey so far, with the goal of demonstrating how rewarding it is to take DECA to college with you, either by joining an existing chapter or by creating one yourself.
Riding on the bus home from my last high school ICDC in Nashville in April 2016, there were three things on my mind: the amazing experience I had just had, how to get comfortable in my seat for the long ride home, and the sadness I felt because DECA was over. Or so I thought…
DECA in high school was absolutely amazing. Between the great friends I made, the amazing things I learned, and the phenomenal experiences I had at competitions, I couldn’t have been a bigger fan of our organization. High school seniors all over the world likely felt sadness after their last ICDC, just as I did just a couple of years ago. But have no fear– there is a whole other part of DECA that awaits you in college– Collegiate DECA!
Halfway through our long ride home to Blue Valley High School in Overland Park, KS from Nashville, I remembered that I had heard there was a collegiate division of DECA while at the closing ceremony at ICDC. The sadness I had at the beginning of our long bus ride turned into excitement as I now knew that I could continue my DECA journey into College. I finally found a way to sleep comfortably on the bus home, and fell asleep happily, since I knew there was much more to come after high school DECA.
Fast forward to my first day at Missouri State University (MSU). I arrived at my new college campus and headed straight to the student organization office to find out when their Collegiate DECA chapter met. After arriving, however, I was very sad to learn that MSU did not yet have a chapter. How can I start a chapter, I asked? They gave me a long pamphlet on student organizations with a few pages on how to start one, which I read through several times and set to work. I recruited a new friend I met at orientation to help me start the chapter since I knew she had been involved with DECA in high school, and then we grew our little team to four people by finding our first advisor and someone to help us with social media and graphic design. We found that there were many steps to start a student organization with the school, and more items to check off our list from DECA, but we mapped it all out and needless to say, we eventually found ourselves in charge of Missouri State University’s official Collegiate DECA Chapter. Growing our chapter by electing officers, finding other students willing to join us, deciding what to do during meetings and how to prepare for competition, and even getting our constitution accepted in the first place (we redrafted it EIGHT times… persistence pays off!) was not easy. But, it was worth it when we all went to our first state competition in January 2017 and became closer as a team, won many awards among all of us, and had two of our chapter’s officers elected as state officers. The feeling of accomplishment was now no longer just shared by me and the few other students who got the organization off the ground, but it was shared by all of us. This only became greater when we had six of our members attend ICDC in Anaheim that April, and make new friends, network, learn, win awards, and bond as a team. These unforgettable experiences were created just because a few of us at MSU thought we should start a Collegiate DECA chapter, and we all could look back and see that our hard work paid off a ton.
After I left MSU and headed for Seattle University, I learned that it was going to be a bit more difficult to start a chapter here. More rules meant more work to start a chapter in the first place, and fewer students meant I had to work extra hard to get students together to form a new organization. Despite these challenges I saw, I was determined to bring Collegiate DECA to Seattle University. I saw it happen at MSU, and I could picture it happening in Seattle as well. The process was difficult and stressful at times, but we now have several talented students involved with our chapter now, and our potential for this year is huge.
My decision to run for the position of Collegiate DECA Vice President was based on my desire to help start chapters beyond my local area, and I look forward to getting in touch with new and existing chapter leaders all around the world this year as I serve in this position!
Collegiate DECA has helped me in many, many ways. Before college, it helped me discover my passion for the hospitality industry, and made me gain confidence in my business-related and communication skills, among others. It was a lot of fun to attend conferences and hang out with friends, but it benefited me in so many more ways than giving me something fun to do. I’ve found that the benefit in College is just the same after seeing so many of my peers become better leaders right before my eyes, while becoming a better and more confident leader myself. I truly believe that every college campus can benefit from Collegiate DECA, and I wanted to share some of my Collegiate DECA Journey here on DECA Direct to help demonstrate how very possible it is to start a chapter if your college doesn’t have one. I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but I promise it’ll be worth it. Are you #ReadyForIt?