DECA breaks records, sends 26 to nationals

Kelly Jinguji, Staff Writer

Ten minutes on the clock. You sit down at a table surrounded by students in business professional attire, one prompt in front of you, and sheets of paper beside you. Your scenario asks you to determine the most positive method to approach a customer who is unhappy with the food quality at your restaurant, while simultaneously preparing a presentation for a judge. Although this may seem like a near-impossible task, this is exactly what freshman national qualifier Sylvie Cao was faced with at the DECA State Career and Development Conference [SCDC], held in early March.
“I had a really weird scenario about an undercooked steak, and it totally threw me off; I had no idea how to solve the scenario at hand,” Cao said. “I was completely nervous throughout the entire role play.”
Although Cao’s nerves may have affected her performance, she successfully overcame any setbacks she was faced with. Cao finished in 1st place for the Principles of Hospitality and Tourism event at the State conference.
Not only did Cao win her event at SCDC, she is Liberty’s first freshman to move on from the State conference and qualify for the International Career and Development Conference [ICDC]. The conference will be held in Anaheim, California in late April. Liberty DECA advisor Chris Gapinski was amazed to see Liberty’s first freshman qualify, along with the rest of the national qualifiers and finalists.
“The awards ceremony is the main, culminating moment of every DECA conference, and it’s great to see Liberty competitors gain awards and achievements for their hard work during the conference,” Gapinski said.
Cao had not qualified from the Area conference to State in her original event, but moved to a Principle Event, a category designed for first-year students to excel and have the potential to move on to Nationals. However, she has high goals set for herself at ICDC.
“I’d like to place at the National conference. As a freshman and first-year student, that would be a really amazing achievement. But in total, I just want to attend and enjoy the conference,” Cao said. “Just being there will be a really great learning experience.”
Cao’s national qualification was a major event at the State conference, yet so was the record-breaking 26 national qualifiers that Liberty DECA will be sending to California. Gapinski felt extremely proud of the Liberty DECA chapter, and hopes the chapter remains consistent in its success over the past years.
“Liberty did great at SCDC this past year,” Gapinski said. “It was another record-breaking year for Liberty DECA, and I would really love to see our chapter continue to grow, prosper, and develop in academics, finance, and in victory.”