KU DECA chapter rebuilds and competes in international competition
Hundreds of thousands around the world participate in DECA, a program that encourages students to hone leadership and business skills through educational and competitive events. KU students can now get involved too, thanks to a recently revitalized DECA chapter at the university.
Ethan Christ enjoyed participating in DECA in high school and thought it could be beneficial to college students. He co-founded the KU chapter as a freshman in 2019, but its first year was cut short by COVID-19.
Under the leadership of Christ and vice president Emily Green, a sophomore studying business management and psychology, KU DECA spent this academic year rebuilding and participating in competitions.
Although DECA is focused on business topics, students don’t have to major in business to join. Christ is double-majoring in biochemistry and anthropology and plans to attend medical school, but he still sees the value in the skills DECA helps build.
“The way DECA works, you have a role play that you have 30 minutes of prep time for. You have no clue what the subject is going to be until that,” he explained. “It’s kind of on-the-fly. You have to develop a presentation very quickly, and knowing how to present well and confidently on a subject you don’t know very well sometimes, I think those are all really important skills to have, and they translate to pretty much any field you go into.”
Green added that the process helps students building confidence and interview skills and encourages problem solving and quick thinking.
During club meetings, held once or twice per month, students practice role-playing scenarios. Christ and Green hope to start bringing in guest speakers and hosting workshops as the organization grows. For now, they’re focusing on competitions, and the early results are promising. The team recently competed in the state DECA competition, where KU was the only public university representing Kansas.
“We had 12 out of 14 members there place,” Green said. “For over half of them, it was their first year competing in DECA.”
Eight of the team members who medaled will be traveling to DECA’s International Career Development Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, from April 9–12. In addition to competing, students will have a chance to network and attend professional development workshops, panels and sessions.
Christ and Green have worked to limit expenses for students attending the competition.
“For some people in high school, DECA could pose a financial barrier because you had to pay dues to be in it normally, then to compete at state and to compete at nationals,” Christ said. “Emily and I are working really hard to keep costs as low as possible.”