Hannah Hobson and Kayla Friedman were shocked and ecstatic when their names boomed out of the speakers as they stood on stage at the Meydenbauer Center & Theatre in Bellevue.
The Mercer Island High School (MIHS) seniors clasped hands in a high-10 after learning they had just won first place in the Travel and Tourism Team Decision Making event at the Washington DECA State Career Development Conference, which took place March 3-5.
“There’s no better way to end our third and final DECA state competition. Our key to first place was speaking with confidence in our role play even when we were nervous. This is a skill we’ve refined over our three years of competing in DECA. We can’t wait to compete in the international competition in Atlanta in April and represent MIHS and Washington DECA,” the girls said in a joint statement to the Reporter.
The MIHS DECA business and marketing program qualified 120 students to compete in 148 events at the state event, which featured more than 4,000 participants.
“Having our students place is a profound testament to their ability and knowledge,” wrote MIHS co-advisers Jen McLellan and Shannon Tapp, who noted that 24 Islanders qualify for the International Career Development Conference April 22-27 in Atlanta. (See list of other state placers below.)
It’s only fitting that Hobson and Friedman notched the first-place prize together since they have been continuous partners in competitions, role plays and when writing papers during their entire DECA journey.
Friedman, who serves as co-president this year with Ava Chatalas, said speaking assuredly in DECA has helped her flow through answers during job interviews.
“I kind of get nervous sometimes when I’m in high-pressure situations, so doing role plays that are kind of low stakes has really helped me gain more confidence when talking. I’ve gotten jobs that I don’t know if I would have interviewed as well if I hadn’t gotten the experience that I had from doing role plays,” she said.
She’s planning on studying business in college with an emphasis on entrepreneurship, and her dream job would be owning her own business.
Hobson said she’s improved her public speaking skills and gained more confidence by participating in DECA events.
“For me a big thing is thinking on my feet, the critical thinking that you get to practice during DECA role plays,” she said. “You have a limited amount of time to create a whole innovative business plan, and then the judge will ask you questions, and just on the spot you have to come up with solutions to whatever question they ask.”
Hobson also aims to pursue business in college and has applied to copious business schools. She’s especially fascinated with the international business realm that she and her classmates have delved into during their international entrepreneurship class.
MIHS junior Mimi Hartman, who participated at state with her Community Giving Project paper, said that students learn vital business skills through their DECA experiences.
“Specifically in the role plays where they put you in a mock business situation like you would in the real business world,” she said.
OTHER MIHS STATE DECA RESULTS
Devin Jones and Halen Otte, Marketing Management Team Decision Making
Julia Harper, Principles of Business Management and Administration
Julia Brondello, Quick Service Restaurant Management Series
Nikesh Woerner, Automotive Services Marketing Series
Sam Engelman and Gavan Hanspal, Buying and Merchandising Team Decision Making
Mia Fischer and Nina Hobson, Financial Literacy Project
Cody Fosseen, Principles of Finance
Sammy Moeller, Lauren Monahan and Caley Newcomer, Community Awareness Project
Joey Lurie, Principles of Business Management and Administration
Jake Glasser, Principles of Finance
Perry Holtzclaw, Business Services and Marketing Series
Sai Saketh Pipavath, Food Marketing Series
Saylor Graham and Marissa Magnussen, International Business Plan
Charlotte Wood, Marketing Communications Series
Ava Chatalas and Saylor Graham, Marketing Management Team Decision Making
Mira Patel, Quick Service Restaurant Management Series
Ryan Koopman, Business Services Marketing Series
Callum Neher, Sports and Entertainment Marketing Series
Matthew Shield, Accounting Applications Series
Damon Marcou, Business Finance Series
Marissa Magnussen and Scott Pirak, Financial Services Team Decision Making
Kyra Derato and Gabby O’Donnell, Hospitality Services Team Decision Making
Evan Humphrey and Morgan Dawson, Hospitality Services Team Decision Making
Jayne Loo, Sports and Entertainment Marketing Series