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Testing their skills in competition

DECA students prep for real-world scenarios

By Gena Checki

Gateway Technical College Collegiate DECA chapters from Racine, Elkhorn and Kenosha

Gateway Technical College Collegiate DECA chapters from Racine, Elkhorn and Kenosha attended the state conference March 6 through March 9 in Madison. More than 60 members gathered for their traditional picture on the steps at the Concourse Hotel. Gateway earned second place in the Chapter of the Year award as they competed against several other Wisconsin colleges and universities. Qualifying members will attend the International Career Development Conference in Washington, D.C., in April.

Have you ever seen the abbreviation DECA on campus and wondered what it means? Gateway’s Collegiate DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) is a student-driven organization that prepares students for careers by integrating skills learned in the classroom into real-world role plays and experiences.

Students attend professional leadership workshops and competitions. Collegiate DECA conferences and other activities give students unique access to internships, scholarships, competitions and professional networking opportunities. DECA also gets involved in civic consciousness and instills the value of giving back.

DECA competition season is underway, with two main competitions. The state competition was March 6 through March 9 in Madison. The second competition, the International Career Development Conference, takes place in April. This year, it will be held in Washington, D.C.

Students need to qualify at the state level before they can move on to the national conference. At both competitions, they compete against students from other two-year colleges as well as four-year colleges and universities.

“Traditionally, Gateway students have done very well in the competitions,” said Kari Aiello, Gateway marketing instructor.

This year, more than 60 students from the Elkhorn, Racine and Kenosha campuses attended the state competition.

Students who participate in DECA major in a variety of academic programs with a strong focus on business-related fields such as marketing or business management. However, any student taking a business course may join DECA and compete.

To prepare for competitions, DECA advisors take an active role. Each campus requires practice sessions and a commitment from the members. Some events are called “prepared events” which require hours of work before the competition. Other practice sessions are case studies and business simulations.

As for why students should participate in DECA, Aiello said, “(We) ask students ‘what is going to make you stand out versus other persons when seeking your career upon graduation?’ DECA is that differentiator.”