For years Bellevue College didn’t have a DECA team, but all that changed last September when professor Kyle Barber sent out open calls for students interested in competing.
“It wouldn’t be just an opportunity to teach, but a chance to push for a four-year degree in marketing,” he said of his reasons for creating the team and joining Bellevue College last fall. “I wanted to make sure they were put into role plays and challenged to think on their feet.”
Barber said the turnout was more than he imagined from the student population and after seeing their determination and their skills he and 23 students traveled to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada to compete in the Collegiate DECA Pacific Northwest Career Development Conference.
During the three-day tournament, the college fielded its largest team ever competing against students from Western Washington University, Gonzaga University and other prominent schools in the region, Barber said.
What happened next seemed almost to be scripted in a Hollywood movie as Maranda Fitzhugh won the business research portion; Keith Monaghan and Olivia Wright won the financial statement analysis and their teammates Ryoji Baba, Riku Mukai and Ryogo Tatebe took second place; Daniel Monroe took second place in marketing management; Dillion Meine and Madison Silverman took second place in business-to-business marketing; and 10 other students finished in the top five in other categories.
“We thought we couldn’t be happier to have had such high interest from the students in DECA during this initial year,” Barber said. “But the results from the (tournament) indicate that the students were not just interested, but highly motivated and ready to compete.”
For their efforts, 20 of the 23 students punched their tickets to the national competition in Orlando Fla., April 18-21.
Collegiate DECA, the international association of college students and teachers of marketing, business, finance, hospitality and entrepreneurship, has more than 15,000 members throughout 276 colleges and universities.
Barber said he couldn’t be prouder of his team and is excited to see what the next chapter has in store for them.
“My big measure of success is to see whether they get jobs that put them on a career path and a management track,” he said. “Since we’ve been doing this activity, it’s not just a chance to go to nationals, but many of the students are using it as a way to facilitate job opportunities.”