DECA’d Out

Seventeen DECA Students Advance to State, Prepare for Competition


Photo by Kimberly Stapleton

After competing on Jan. 19, DECA competitors line up to pose.

Nithila Ilangovan, Reporter

At 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 19, 21 students arrived at the student pick up circle to board a bus to the Bastrop Convention Center, where the TX District five DECA’s Career Development Conference was to be held. Serving DECA Chapters in 28 counties, District 5 holds almost 1200 students, with only 54 percent of those advancing to State. This year, 17 of 21 students from Cedar Park’s DECA Chapter advanced in various events from Hospitality & Tourism to Sports Management and Community Service.

Within the competitive events, there are primarily two types: Roleplay or Written. The roleplay events are on the spot events that are completed either individually or as a team of two, where people don’t know the prompt they will receive and use to effectively come up with a solution related to their event category. These events typically have an exam portion to it prior to competition day, and competitors are tested over different business concepts.

As a first year DECA competitor, sophomore Suparna Swaroop competed in Principles of Marketing, and said that her dad, along with her DECA Advisor Kimberly Stapleton, helped her practice for competition. Her event is a roleplay, where she is in an interview setting and gets a prompt from a judge with 10 minutes to prepare. Swaroop said that the prompts relate to marketing and business management, and that she is judged on how she handles different scenarios.

Swaroop said she is excited about advancing to State, and that her public speaking skills helped her get to where she is.

“I’m looking forward to going to State and meeting new people,” Swaroop said. “Advancing to State is a really good opportunity to work even harder and improve so I’m excited about it all. A huge portion of my event is interview skills, confidence and my overall speaking style. Therefore, presentations and public speeches in school have greatly helped my event today.” 

My partner and I are very eager to compete at the next level. I believe that we have a lot more practicing to do for sure if we want to advance.”

— Alessandro Mauries (12)

Similar to Swaroop, senior Alessandro Mauries competed in a roleplay event, except this time with his partner senior Connor Jerman. They competed in Sports and Entertainment Marketing Team Decision Making, where they were given 30 minutes to evaluate and come up with a professional business proposal for a unique scenario, such as a way of promoting a charity sports event. Mauries said they prepared by practicing different prompts and worked on presenting effectively.

“We work on hitting all of the indicators that we are asked to present to our judge and talk clear and smooth, passing points and ideas between my partner and me,” Mauries said.

According to Mauries, the experience he gained from his job has helped him with this event, and he said that he is eager to compete at the state level. 

“Working at Twin Creeks Country Club for two and a half years has really helped me be successful in this club,” Mauries said. “I would consider myself a very sociable person and a clear speaker. I have had times that I have had to make intimidating approaches to my elders or people above me in my actual workplace. Advancing to State is such an opportunity that we earned. My partner and I are very eager to compete at the next level. I believe that we have a lot more practicing to do for sure if we want to advance.”

While Mauries and Swaroop are both first-time competitors, senior Ashley Hibbets advanced to State last year, and did so once again this year with a different partner, junior Johnathan Khadivi. They competed in Travel and Tourism Team Decision Making, where they were are given 30 minutes on the spot to prepare, and 10 minutes to present to a judge on a scenario related to solving something within a travel and tourism-based company. She said that she and her partner had to prepare for any possible scenario, which meant having to think outside of the box in order to grab the judges’ attention.

“For my event, we are given a prompt that’s usually about a travel company or business that has hired us to develop a promotional or marketing plan,” Hibbetts said. “Basically, we have to develop new and innovative ways to attract customers towards these businesses.”

Hibbets said that the State competition is a great way to meet new people from all over Texas who share the same interests in business and are all very talented. Although Hibbetts has had previous experience with competing, she said being in Capstone has helped her with competing.

“Being in Capstone the past two years has really helped me with DECA competitions,” Hibbets said. “I had to learn how to confidently present in front of small and large crowds and that experience made me much more prepared to present to a judge. Since it wasn’t my first time having to give a presentation to someone, I was able to focus more on the details of the event, not on how to address it.”

Roleplay events are graded based on a 100 question multiple choice test and their presentation, while written events allow for more flexibility and the competitors know exactly what they are presenting about. Depending on the event, competitors will write a paper of five, 11, or 20 pages, and will give a presentation based on that. Senior Kristin Knight competed in the Integrated Marketing Campaign–Product, in which she and her teammates, seniors Roshini Krishnaswamy and Vaniya Khan, chose a product and had to write an effective paper and present a plan on marketing it.

“We had to research and pick a product in the marketplace today,” Knight said. “We chose Bangs, a shoe company that was founded around social change, and we had to write a paper with our research and marketing ideas, and had to create a presentation board to pitch our plan at competition.”

Knight said that she is looking forward to State competition with her friends and that the classes and clubs she has taken have helped her greatly.

“Advancing to state for me is very exciting because it’s kind of a validation of all the work we put in,” Knight said. “We didn’t expect it to happen and when it did, it was exciting, especially since it’s our senior year and I’m able to go to state and be with friends and know that our work led to this. The business classes I’ve taken have helped me, and also competing in other clubs like FCCLA and HOSA have helped me because I know what it is like to compete in a convention and be professional.”

From Feb. 21 to Feb. 23 DECA competitors will be at the competition in Dallas, TX, with all of the state’s DECA Chapters. Winners will then advance to the International Career Development Conference (ICDC) held in Orlando, FL in April.