DECA faces challenges as enrollment soars

Ashtyn Sakamoto, Staff Writer

With several community service events planned and an upcoming leadership conference in Anaheim, California, this November, Liberty DECA is in full swing.

Between organizing service events for members and striving for ways to improve the chapter, the Executive Board is always busy. Recently, the DECA chapter gained new officers to complete the Executive Officer Team: seniors Kelly Jinguji, Dylan Kostadinov, and McKenzie King; juniors Vincent Ung and Hallie Chen; sophomores Theo Koob and Rachel Ly; and freshman Chelsea Hu.

This year, 207 members are a part of the chapter as opposed to the 192 members that were involved last year. As member enrollment continues to rise, the growth has been a huge change for both the officer team and chapter advisor Chris Gapinski.

“Challenges range from finding volunteers, chaperones, and how are we going to pay for everything,” Gapinski said.

The biggest recent change to the program has been the addition of DECA 4.

“There is now a pathway for students to stick with the program for their entire high school career. This adds another leadership component to the top end of our chapter, which has worked out great,” Gapinski said.

Unlike previous years, however, this year’s Executive Officer Team has only one returning officer—chapter president Kelly Jinguji.

The challenge for the officers this year will be working with the new team dynamic since many of the officers are new to the Board. Many of the officers, while having attended mock competitions in the past, are new to actually running them themselves.

“When we’ve planned our big mock competition in the past, it usually took a few weeks to prepare for. This year, we’ve had to adjust a bit, and we are beginning to plan this year’s competition months in advance. One thing I love about the Board this year is that we come from all different levels of the program so we have different perspectives,” Jinguji said.

Executive officers contribute beyond helping the Liberty chapter run effectively. They often give back through larger projects in collaboration with local organizations or schools. For Ly, motivation to be an Executive officer came partly from her desire to give back to the community.

“Since we are doing our Community Service Project on the Issaquah Food Bank, there are so many people we can impact. It was just a really big opportunity,” Ly said.

Similarly, DECA’s senior vice president Dylan Kostadinov wants to positively influence the chapter and the community.

“I ran my campaign on the idea of giving back to the organization that gave so much to me. I wanted to provide the same opportunities that I had,” Kostadinov said.

And with competition season right around the corner, members also will have to invest time into their own competitive events.

“It really takes a small army to run this program,” Gapinski said.