Story by Andrea Lopez, for The Muleskinner—
“It is what you make of it.” These are simple words Jeff Mason, president of UCM DECA, is constantly telling members of the association.
DECA is an organization that provides opportunities for students to put the skills and knowledge they are learning in the classroom into effect.
While the fall semester is focusing on the professional development aspect, the spring semester transitions into competition mode.
Although housed in the business college, UCM DECA is open to all majors, and there are no special requirements to become a member.
Over the five years the club has been established at UCM, the growth continues to skyrocket.
Since 2010, DECA has earned more than 75 awards between state and international competitions.
The organization has more than just awards to show for its success; DECA also maintains a strong image throughout campus.
“Everything we do can be applied to any major. Whether it is management techniques, you are going to be working with people,” Mason said. “For advertising, you are going to have an event or something that needs to be promoted. UCM DECA is a great organization for any student on campus to become involved with.”
Between resumé building, social media awareness, and fundraising, DECA members are exposed to a variety of events that enhance their professional character.
Just this semester alone, the club has verified how active they are on campus.
From the Men’s Warehouse seminar about professional dress, to the mixer DECA hosted for all the organizations within the business department, the association continously has events planned for members.
Andrea Young, vice president of professional development, explained how being a part of this affiliation has been beneficial to her.
“When I first came to UCM I was a shy kid, so DECA really brings people out of their shells,” she said. “During competitions you are put into a situation where you have to converse in the most eloquent way to get your point across, so I gained better speaking skills.”
In addition to hosting events, UCM DECA also participates in competitions.
The typical match consists of role play. A student is given a prompt with a business scenario on it, and they have 30 minutes to come up with a presentation.
“It is really a matter of is it something you want to try,” Mason said. “If you want to compete then we will let you compete.”
Last year, two members, Timothy Lair and Adrian Bivens, proved just that. Joining just weeks prior to the state competition, the young men said they knew they were confident they would be successful. The pair ended up going to nationals.
Unlike other chapters in Missouri, UCM DECA allows freshmen to compete.
They go over competition preparation by role playing and going over tests. “They are better off for it rather than starting off at a lower level sophomore year,” Mason said.
Just like any other club on campus, DECA enables the members to be a part of a large network of people.
“The way I see it is we are not just business,” Young said. “We incorporate a lot of different aspects, so you can get a lot more out of it than what people typically think you can do in DECA.”
For the future, both Mason and Young agree they would like to see DECA continue networking with other organizations on campus and growing a brand among businesses throughout the Kansas City area.
“As a member, I’ve become very prideful to say I’m part of UCM DECA,” Young said.
On Nov. 2, DECA will be hosting a mini career development conference, where they are expecting over 100 high school students to attend.
This is an opportunity for local high school students to practice an additional DECA competition to be more prepared for districts.
On Nov. 3, UCM DECA will host a leadership conference.
Four professors from the Kansas State School of Leadership will be coming to give presentations and workshops addressing the obstacles and goals that the student leaders on campus have.
UCM DECA continues to strive at reaching their end of the year goal: winning the Missouri DECA chapter of the year.
Through their continued efforts, it will not be a surprise if they add an additional award to their collection.