Bellevue College DECA Wins National Awards

Photo credit Seamus Allen

At its inception, Distributive Education Clubs of America (now DECA) was a student organization that dealt with the distribution aspect of marketing, but it has since evolved to encompass all of marketing. Now dealing with business, finance, accounting, entrepreneurship and hospitality, DECA has 225,000 members across all 50 US states and eight other nations, and Bellevue College hosts some of the best.

BC has been national champions for the past seven years, with BC DECA Director Kyle Barber saying that “no other school in the country can rival our success at the collegiate level.” This year was no different. Bellevue students represented the college at the state competition back in late winter to advance to the nationals, where they had to go through a preliminary round to the finals and compete against 10-15 other college representatives. In the end, three students were declared national champions: Kate Hernandez and Lucia La Manna in the advertising category, and Nicole Kolavennu in business research.

So what do the students do? DECA participant Dmitrii Fisenko said that it “gives students a chance to understand the industry from the inside and see what kind of problems they will be required to solve for businesses,” also calling it an escape from usual classroom life. Within the competition itself, Fisenko’s personal task was to research and create a 20-minute business-to-business sales pitch. For the bigger picture, Barber believes that DECA is a vehicle for practicing problem-solving and critical thinking skills, saying that “employers tell us over and over again that this is the number one thing they want to see from graduates, so I choose to lead DECA each year as I want students to land great jobs, not just earn a degree.”

As to why students might join DECA, Fisenko said it changed the way he saw his future, even going so far as to change his major to marketing with zero regrets. He believes he has advanced skills like communication and persuasion, while also starting to conquer his fear of public speaking.

DECA this year, like any other program, was heavily impacted due to COVID. Two of the main drivers for students to join is that they can get involved with a community of like-minded students and go to a competition that is usually held in a sunny destination. With no getting together or traveling, Barber admitted that many veteran students opted out this year. However, they still recruited and had 17 members advance to the final round of the competition.

From here, the program goes back to recruiting, this time for an upcoming practice tournament in June to help students get familiar with DECA and prepare for the 2021-22 year. The fall usually features a trip to New York City to visit advertising agencies that Barber used to work at so students can see what it is like to work in a large firm on the east coast. In-person community service took a break in the pandemic, but Barber would also like to see DECA get back to doing activities like that on a quarterly basis.

The full BC results are as follows:

Advertising National Champions: Kate Hernandez and Lucia La Manna

Fourth place – Daria Fleikler and Valeria Koroleva

Seventh place – Africa Tesfa

Business Research National Champion: Nicole Kolavennu

Entrepreneurship Second Place: Shelly Baur

Marketing Management Fourth Place: Bridget Raftery

Retail Management Sixth Place: Steph McCarty

Emerging Technology Sixth Place: Kimm Moore

Ninth place – Seth Walker and Jae Roh

Marketing Communications Seventh Place: Maria Albuquerque and Katana Hewett

Event Planning 11th Place: Carolyn Kollstedt and Madeline Fagan

Sales Management 12th Place: Mohammad Halbawy