DECA takes on Nashville


Stephanie Sandstrom

Central Region Vice President Dalton Green (pictured 3rd from right) was also in attendance at the South Dakota State Conference. Pictured left to right: Avery Dooley, Haroni Sahilu, Genna Sheriff, Dalton Green, Teranysha Sutton, Abbie DeKramer.

Cathleen Weng, Editor-in-Chief

From Anaheim to Orlando, members of DECA have travelled all across the U.S. for their international competitions in the hopes of building their leadership skills and bringing home the highly coveted DECA glass award.

This year, DECA members will head to Nashville, Tennessee for the last time during their International Career Development Conference (ICDC) from April 29 to May 2, taking around 30 LHS students to sightsee, attend conferences and, for those who qualified after State, competing in events such as finance and marketing. This follows the South Dakota DECA State Conference, held this year from Feb. 23 to Feb. 24 at the Ramkota in Sioux Falls, where students from all over South Dakota competed in statewide events and got a taste of the  environment they will experience at ICDC. The event was largely organized by the South Dakota State officers, one of whom is LHS junior and DECA Vice President of Finance Teranysha Sutton. 

“This year at State was a little stressful because this was my first year running it as a part of the state team,” said Sutton. “But it was really fun. We set it up directly like how it’s going to be at [ICDC], so [we] gave students more of an experience of how [ICDC] is going to be directly like.”

The other members of the State officer team include RHS students Vice President of Membership Shandyn Nyguen and Vice President of Marketing Avery Dooley, WHS student and Vice President of Community Outreach Haroni Sahilu, LHS senior and President Genna Sheriff and LHS junior and Vice President of Career Development Abbie DeKramer, as well as State Adviser Nancy Tapken. Together, they are dedicated to propelling the students in South Dakota DECA to success at ICDC and beyond, especially in terms of skill-building.

“DECA is about becoming confident in yourself and helping you navigate what kinds of tools there are and how to use those tools to build yourself,” said Sutton. 

The State Conference was an important stepping stone toward ICDC, especially for the newer members of DECA, something which LHS junior Areej Nazir noticed thoroughly. Last year, Nazir and Sheriff made up the first team in South Dakota history to make it to finals at ICDC. This year, Nazir is serving as the LHS DECA president and competing alongside Sutton.

“I know there were a lot of freshmen and new members that had a really good time [at the State Conference] and it was just something unique,” said Nazir. “It was really accessible, and inexpensive for our DECA kids to get there. We did some fundraising and a lot of people are really excited now for Internationals because that was a little bit of a taste of the competition and exactly what DECA is.”

Nazir anticipates that, although DECA is primarily about preparing leaders in business-related fields, ICDC will not be all work. Not only will nine different countries be in attendance at ICDC, thus allowing students to meet new people on a global scale, but students will also partake in tourist activities around Nashville and DECA’s signature pin-trades. Each DECA student brings a few pins representing their state to trade, and South Dakota is no exception.

“I’m really excited [about ICDC], especially because we just got back from State and so everyone is just a little bit on a high because we’re starting to realize we have something to look forward to right before AP tests, like a fun little break,” said Nazir. “And also just the opportunity to meet again with the people we met at state and just to travel with friends [is really exciting]… We explained [pin-trading] a little to people and that’s something that everyone’s really looking forward to because it’s one of the best parts about Internationals.”

Additionally, the environment at ICDC is not nearly as cutthroat as one might imagine the business world to be.

“I mean, it’s competition, so you’d think that people would be like ‘oh my gosh, I want to win,’ but everyone’s really friendly,” said Sutton. “They want everyone to succeed.”

Still, students are working hard to prepare for the competition. Now that they have scores and feedback from the judges at the State Conference, they can individualize their preparation and focus on improving specific aspects of their performances. 

“I’m studying every day, so after I finish my homework, I’m going over performance indicators, which is the main point of your roleplay, and then I am doing practice roleplays with my partner,” said Sutton.

But above all, DECA is a learning experience. Sutton cites DECA as helping her to have confidence in her speaking skills and to learn that she can do anything if she tries hard enough. Nazir similarly feels that she has learned from her involvement with DECA.

“I’ve learned so much,” said Nazir. “I think being a part of the chapter team really taught me that I have to be able to communicate with Mr. Jones and I need to be able to communicate with all the new members… [DECA’s] just taught me to take a lot of responsibility, as well as just the need to be organized and, especially when you compete as teams, it can get really stressful at times and [I’ve learned to be] able to take a step back and just learn communication with [my] partner.”