In Their Own Words: The WRLC Experience
With the 2018 Western Region Leadership Conference ending on November 17th, I wanted to connect with some of the members who attended and get their thoughts and feelings about their stay in Anaheim. Samantha Murray and Sydnee Johnson from Kelso High School in Washington allowed me to interview them about their experiences in Southern California. They both have different experiences in DECA, so it was fascinating hearing their viewpoints about this conference.
Samantha is a junior and currently serves as the Area 9 President and VP of Finance for Washington DECA. This was the third Western Region Leadership Conference that she’s been to, so it was great to hear what she learned and enjoyed about this conference.
Q: What was your favorite part of WRLC?
A: Definitely the Red-Carpet Experience. Members were able to experience what it felt like to be in the spotlight, and I think it was great that we were able to make them feel special at the very beginning of the conference. It was a lot of fun cheering on members and making sure that they knew they were just as important as the state officers were.
Q: What made this conference different than the previous leadership conferences you’ve attended?
A: I would say the hub. There were a lot of different opportunities to have fun, network with members and business, and learn something while in the room. It really brought together all of the elements that make DECA what it is: being able to have fun, but also networking and learning about yourself.
Q: What’s one major takeaway you gained from this conference?
A: It was really amazing how supportive all the members and state officers were of each other. I felt a little overwhelmed when I first arrived, but people from all across the region took me in and made me feel at home.
Q: Do you have any other general comments about this conference?
A: I loved how different it was from other leadership conferences I’ve attended… from the Red-Carpet Experience to the fashion show to the Opening and Closing Sessions. I think members didn’t expect to experience everything that was thrown at them and it made the conference more memorable overall.
Sydnee is also a junior and a three-year DECA member. Although she’s a passionate competitor, she admitted to only focusing on that aspect of DECA and she had never been to a conference focused on leadership. It was really exciting to hear about how this conference changed her view on the many different ways DECA impacts students.
Q: Before you arrived in Anaheim, what were your expectations for this conference?
A: I was super excited. I expected to be working a lot and having fun when we had some spare time, but I normally found myself having fun while working.
Q: What was your favorite moment of this conference?
A: Probably during closing session. During the final session when the concert started, everyone just stood up and jammed out together. It was nice how we all became friends immediately, and it was just a really cool moment.
Q: How did this conference change your view on DECA?
A: Well it really made me want to participate more and take part in more hands-on activities. I was always focused on in-school DECA projects like working the student store, but this conference really made me want to attend more conferences and be more involved altogether.
Q: What was one big takeaway for you from the conference?
A: I thought it was really cool how everyone could become friends so quickly even though we barely knew each other. Even outside of my chapter, there are people that I still communicate with that I met in Anaheim. Without going on to this conference, I never would’ve been able to experience this.