From Districts To Disney: An Interview With DECA Seniors
Maura Sullivan | Wilmington DECA
Q: Tell a little bit about who you two are.
A: Our names are Troy Riekstins and Joseph Consorti. We are current seniors in DECA from Massachusetts. We have been competing as a team for two years now during our senior and junior year, but we started DECA during our sophomore year of high school. We are really enthusiastic about the opportunities that DECA has opened our eyes to, and we can’t wait to share.
Q:Why did you two join DECA?
A:Our DECA journey started later than expected. We joined DECA because we had so many friends that expressed how much they care about the organization. They came back from Districts talking about how much fun they had, and we were instantly eager for more. We had seen pictures and videos all over social media about what it had to offer, so we figured we would give it a try.
Q:What was your first year in DECA like?
A: We didn’t even compete as a team during the first year of competition.
(Troy)- My first year, my friend and I competed in Business Law and Ethics Team Decision Making. Starting DECA, I was really nervous because I didn’t have a lot of experience talking in front of people. It made me really nervous. To make matters worse, my partner had attended ICDC the year before, so the pressure was on for me. Sure enough, after all of the nerves passed and surviving our role play at Districts, we placed fourth and qualified for States. At States, we placed fourth and qualified for ICDC. I knew my love for DECA was just beginning there.
(Joseph)- My first year in DECA, I competed as an individual in Principles Of Marketing. During my preparation time before my role play, I could feel the excitement building up inside of me. As soon as my roleplay was over, I knew that DECA was something that I was meant to do. I qualified for States in third place, and I was so excited to compete at a more competitive level. I earned a mini-award for my second role play and I came in sixth at States. I attended ICDC through a leadership academy and I made some unforgettable memories in Anaheim that year.
Q: When did you guys realize that you were a great team? What individual qualities helped you exceed in competition?
A:We instantly knew. We realized that we were a great team after deciding to compete together during our junior year of high school. We qualified for states again, and our ability to “sell” our idea to the judge made us instantly compatible. Our energy bounced off of each other really well.
Q:Do you have a favorite conference that you have attended?
A: We attended ELS in Chicago this past summer to improve upon our leadership abilities. We came home with so many amazing ideas on ways to improve our chapter overall. We are so thankful that we got to attend this conference because we not only met so many great DECA members to communicate with, but we learned so many valuable lessons from business professionals that we never thought possible. Also, the food was amazing. Pizza and hot dogs for a whole weekend. We cannot wait to see our friends from Chicago in Orlando.
Q: What would your advice be to somebody who did not qualify for their State Conference? What tips could you give them on how to stay positive?
A: Use it as motivation. Do not worry. We had to experiment with what worked best with us overall. Whether it is your category or your partner, we have changed the way that we compete in DECA so many times. You need to find your fit. And remember, just because you are not competing at states, does not mean that you are any less intelligent than somebody that is. Stay persistent and keep practicing. Reach out to your advisor on how to get involved with leadership and other opportunities as well. You can learn from your mistakes and build off of that for future competitions. By staying involved, your passion will continue to flourish.
Q:What are your goals for this year in DECA?
A: We actually have achieved one of our goals so far this year. We were in charge of competition prep at our school and a record number of kids qualified for States. We really want to do well at States this year and qualify for ICDC. We want glass. Our dream is to get up on stage at ICDC and win.
Q:Any final thoughts to those who are reading?
A: Enjoy every second.One of the reasons why we enjoy DECA so much is because of how many experiences it has provided us with. Don’t take anything for granted. We live by a quote that we learned at ELS in Chicago. “Practice like you’ve never won, compete like you’ve never lost.” (Retro). DECA helped us so much with skills like public speaking and communication, so take every piece of advice that you can get. Remember that there is always room to improve. We started DECA having no idea what is even was, and now we get to share our story with others. Never stop believing in what you have to offer the DECA world, you never know how far it could take you in life.