The Collegiate DECA Leadership Academy is an annual conference that provides opportunities for students to gain valuable experiences in teamwork and leadership skills. Millikin students and DECA Executive Committee members Dejaujhn Thompson, a junior accounting major from Chicago, and Valina Hoang, a junior marketing major from Chicago, were among the attendees at the November conference in New York.
During the conference, students chose a career track of their choice in advertising, fashion merchandising and retail management, hospitality and culinary arts, international business and finance, or sports and entertainment marketing. Teams of students within their career tracks participated in case study competitions that culminated with presentations to DECA's National Advisory Board members.
Valina Hoang was a member of the winning team for the sports and entertainment marketing track case study competition. Her team's case study was based on a sports venue that housed a professional sports franchise. The team's objective was to find ways that the venue could provide sponsorship opportunities for corporations during the franchise's off-season.
"We developed a three-tier marketing strategy where each tier comes with more benefits," Hoang said. "We came up with different ways that corporations could advertise at the venue such as charity events. It's something that we can actually put into place and implement."
Dejaujhn Thompson took part in the hospitality and culinary arts track and worked on a case study that involved creating a marketing plan for the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel that would help gain new customers.
"We had to research demographics as well as the hotel restaurants and provide enhancements to old ideas that would sell the New Yorker Hotel," Thompson said. "It was a great opportunity to work alongside other DECA members from across the country."
Students also had opportunities to engage in conversations with corporate executives, participate in behind-the-scenes tours and gain industry trends and insight in the career track of their choice during off-site visits. Students were able to work with other Collegiate DECA members while networking with corporate executives.
"We had a chance to see how other DECA programs compared to Millikin's program," Thompson said. "There was a large amount of diversity and many of the things that were covered at the conference were subjects we learned in our business courses at Millikin."
Thompson was recognized by the Collegiate DECA National Executive Committee as the Top Leader at the conference.
Kimberly Mungaray, Millikin assistant professor of accounting and Collegiate DECA faculty advisor, was pleased with the conference experience. "It was very impactful for the students. When we take students to national DECA events they all come back with some sort of new understanding and new connections. Part of DECA is understanding professional development and both students learned that during the conference."
DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) is an international association of high school and college students studying marketing, management and entrepreneurship in business, finance, hospitality and marketing sales and services. The organization involves more than 13,000 students from 200 campuses across the nation, including community colleges, technical colleges, four-year colleges and universities.
Collegiate DECA is designed to enhance the student's college experience by providing recognition and leadership activities directly related to classroom study. Millikin's Collegiate DECA chapter has been recognized with several awards in recent years including a Chapter Passport Award and Advisor of the Year.
From a future standpoint, Dejaujhn Thompson hopes Millikin's chapter will "continue to help all majors, not just business majors, with leadership opportunities. We try to emphasize that DECA is more than a business organization, it's a leadership organization. We focus on applying leadership and communication skills to all majors on campus."
Hoang added, "We work on providing interactive sessions that are geared toward Performance Learning experiences so that DECA members are prepared for conferences and case studies."
For more information on Millikin's Collegiate DECA chapter, visit millikin.edu/collegiate-deca.