Preparing for the future

Senior Meara Kelleher places as finalist in DECA state competition


Six DECA students competed in the state competition on Friday, Feb. 21. Courtesy of Valerie Cooper.

Six students competed in the state DECA competition on Friday, Feb. 21. Senior Meara Kelleher placed as a state finalist in apparel and accessories marketing.

Choosing her field was simple because she works in a department store, making it easy for her to know information about what goes on in the field.

“It feels really good to have made it to state with my best friends competing alongside me,” Kelleher said. “It’s really cool to go to DECA state because there’s 16,000 members in DECA overall and it’s a really cool convention. It’s all people that really want to be there and people have the same mindset of the year. I’m so grateful I made it to state because I understand there’s people that didn’t make it and I’m very proud of myself because I worked hard to make it.”

Senior Trinity Ijoma competed but was left short handed with a lack of preparation, a mistake she has learned from. She believes the DECA state competition leaves students with connections to people as the judges are real businessmen and marketers.

“It was very nerve wracking,” Ijoma said. “I felt like I wasn’t prepared for it but it was fun. It taught me how to quickly problem solve and speak in front of people when I just had like 10 minutes to prepare. [It] definitely helped me with being able to think on my feet.”

For students who advance to state and internationals, they take part in a process where students take tests and the highest grade in their field moves on. DECA helps students in fields they are interested in that aren’t taught in a typical high school classroom setting.

“In order to advance from district to state and state to internationals, students have to pass a 100-question timed test and score high,” DECA adviser Valerie Cooper said. “DECA is an organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the world. It is a great [career and technical student organization] for students where they learn valuable skills, networking opportunities and scholarship opportunities.”

Next year, Kelleher will attend Texas Tech to study advertising. DECA continues to teach her both strengths and weaknesses within herself and how to improve them.

“[To prepare for state] I would get myself in the mindset and watch a lot of Shark Tank,” Kelleher said. “It gives you a lot of business terminology and it gets you kind of in the right mind and gets your vocabulary ready. [I would do] a lot of Quizlets that are posted and [utilize resources on the DECA] website [that] allow us to practice stuff the state has issued out for us.”