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Championships in SLC Reveal DECA as Premier Business Training Program

Thousands of the world’s next generation of leaders are spending a few days in Utah. DECA, an organization targeted toward students interested in marketing, finance and management is holding its International Career Development Conference at the Salt Palace.

It’s 2:00 on Monday and 14-year-old Sherry Ann Morgenstern is preparing for the Principles of Finance competition.

“We have the test, which is 100 questions you answer in 90 minutes and right now we are about to do the role play which you have 10 minutes to read the scenario and prepare for it and then 10 minutes to speak with a judge.”

Morganstern has already done a lot to be here. She is a freshman in her Virginia High School and had to win competitions at the district and state level in order to travel to the highest competition in Salt Lake City.

“The competition should be pretty tough because they are taking the top from each state or districts in other countries and it’s an international competition.”

There are 12,000 high school students competing in categories like entrepreneurship promotion and principles of marketing. Lisa Jensen, a DECA advisor in Seattle Washington has 23 of her students competing and says she has seen the organization evolve over the years:

“It used to be something that was considered a vocational program for students that maybe didn’t have the opportunity of going on to college, but it has really changed in the last 30 - 40 years to be the premier program so that kids who are seriously college bound are looking at DECA as there way to really differentiate themselves.”

Ed Davis, Executive Director for DECA Incorporated says the organization continues to grow, now topping 250,000 college and high school members worldwide. Davis credits DECA’s success to the organizations core concepts:

“Having student led activities such as fundraisers, community service activities, public relations campaigns...those kinds of things. The other part is the connection to the curriculum: we use the national curriculum standards in marketing and finance and hospitality to organize competitive activities so that students can apply what they have learned in the classroom.”

This is the third year the International Championships have been held in Salt Lake City.