Are you ready for your future? Well, what was once known as the “Distributive Education Club of America” and now, simply referred to as “DECA”, has been helping students answer this question in the affirmative for over 70 years. This club had made it its business to prepare both high school and college students to become entrepreneurs and successful leaders in the business world, as well as to become more productive employees at all levels.
Founded in 1946, DECA has grown from a series of independent marketing clubs to an international organization consisting of more than 225,000 members across the globe. Ramapo boasts over 160 active members, which makes it the largest chapter in New Jersey.
DECA members learn the fundamentals of business with an emphasis in the areas of marketing, finance, hospitality and management. The club designs activities that seek to enhance the classroom experience by bringing the complexities of the business world to life. Through the use of competitions, online challenges, and business partnerships, future leaders strengthen their business prowess while also being exposed to a myriad of careers in the business world.
The DECA competitions provide an opportunity for members to develop and practice skills that are necessary for future success in business careers, and most other careers as well. Prior to the competition, all of the members take a written test designed specifically for their area of business expertise. This test score is factored into their ultimate competition score. At the competitions, the participants are provided with a practical business scenario for which they are required to either solve a problem or perform a task. Seasoned business leaders serve as judges who assess and score the students’ performance. Some of the criteria upon which the students are evaluated include creativity, level of confidence, time management, aptitude for problem solving, critical thinking ability, leadership, teamwork, and professionalism. Competitions are held at the regional, state and national levels with teams being eliminated at each stage.
Senior Jamie Murtha serves as President of the Ramapo chapter. When asked what she enjoys most about being in the club, Murtha responded that it is the friendships she has cultivated. “DECA has given me the opportunity to bond with people in different grades and even with classmates in my own grade that I wouldn’t have spoken to otherwise.” She emphasized that, “DECA is a learning experience and it’s okay if you don’t do well your first year.” She continued, “Don’t be discouraged and keep working on improving your business skills.” Junior, Jessica Swenson, Director of Communications for the Club, added, “Through DECA you get to meet people from not only all over the state but all over the country and world. I think it is really cool when you walk into the arena at nationals and there are so many people there all for DECA.”
This year the Executive Board’s goal is to increase the number of contestants who advance from the regional level to both the state and national competitions. The club has already met the first goal as 41 participants from Ramapo advanced to the state competition as compared to 24 from last year. Club members will be examining the results of the upcoming state competition to determine if they have met their goal for nationals.
So Ramapo students, you have to ask yourself, “Am I ready for my future?” Well, 160 Ramapo DECA members are already on the launch pad of success, preparing for takeoff into the business world with a briefcase full of skills that DECA has taught them . . . and they mean business!
By: Sarah Chagares, Staff Writer
Featured Image: DECA members (Photo courtesy of Jamie Murtha)