UH Sugar Land hosts DECA competition

Local area high school students sharpen leadership & entrepreneurial skills

By Elsa Maxey

The 11th annual UH Sugar Land DECA (Distributive Education Club of America) Leadership Development/Competition Conference on Friday, January 8 goes down as the testing ground for the next level of Texas DECA’s greater Houston area competitions with the subsequent one for District 3 set for this Saturday, January 17th at Fort Bend ISD’s Ridge Point High School. More than 60 judges from the greater Fort Bend business community, Aggies Mothers Organization, and both UH – Downtown and the Conrad Hilton College, as industry professionals helped judge a business/marketing situation role play during this past week’s event. The one-to-one judging competition involved a business problem, which the students turned into an opportunity with their creative responses to correct what would ultimately improve operations in the apparel, hotel and restaurant and the product/service business industry, the categories of the role play scenarios.

From personal recollections, DECA in high school was for students wanting to go into business. But now, DECA, although it uses the same acronym, is a group known as an association of marketing students who undergo much more hands experience in their academic training.

Organizers of last week’s competitive event, Ken Kaser, Director of the Events Management and Sales Certificate Program at the UH Conrad Hilton College and Susan Manger, UH Gift Shop/Office Gift Shop/Office Manager, are both retired FBISD marketing teachers who have spearheaded the DECA contests at the UH main campus, downtown and in Sugar Land and at Houston Baptist University for more than 15 years. “During my 30 years of teaching in Nebraska and Texas, I was thoroughly impressed with how DECA gave students self-confidence and leadership skills,” Kaser told the Star after the conclusion of Friday’s competition. Kaser, also known as an author and coauthor of about seven books, singled out well-known local area realtor Suzette Peoples and FBISD’s Sally Berlocher for their help in assembling community leaders to serve as judges.

DECA, which prepares students as emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management careers, “is a highly popular professional organization for Fort Bend and the surrounding Houston school districts,” states Kaser. He reports that 268 students from 10 area high schools including Fort Bend, Pearland, LaPorte, Magnolia, Lamar Consolidated, and Clear Creek Independent School Districts participated in the UH Sugar Land contest, which was also supported by Wharton County Junior College—Sugar Land and the UH Conrad Hilton College as event sponsors.

Addressing the DECA members and inspiring them to be successful entrepreneurs was Keshuv Aggarwal, a Clements High School graduate and former DECA officer. Aggarwal is a graduate of the UH Bauer School of Business and owner of Blaze Pizza in Sugar Land and Houston. Mike Pede, UH Conrad Hilton College graduate and UH Alumni Association President, also addressed the students and shared helpful suggestions.

To the next level of competition…Saturday at Ridge Point High, 39 schools and over 1,000 students will compete in the district competition, which will select those that will advance to the state competition in San Antonio next month. Kaser reports that last year over 100 FBISD students representing seven high schools competed in Orlando, Florida in marketing, management, entrepreneurship, leadership, hospitality, and virtual business concepts events.

The Fort Bend Star salutes these future business leaders and the local DECA organizers for helping to provide them with professional business life skills!

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