Milan High School DECA club members learn about business

Janessa Monahan, Milan High School 2012 DECA club secretary, is liaison to the Milan Area Chamber of Commerce.

Trevor Hawkins, Milan High School DECCA club member, is photographed holding his DECA club pin.

Haley Nicholas answers questions during the Milan High School DECA recruitment week. Interested students, Jordan Bray-Burns, Madison McIntosh and Amestie Abercrombie are photographed after receiving information.

Although Distributive Education Clubs of America is no longer used and the international association is now referred to as simply DECA, Milan High School students are fortunate to have a working chapter and Karen Sterzik as a faculty advisor.

The main focus of the club is to prepare leaders and entrepreneurs for careers and education in marketing, finance, hospitality, management, and other business areas. The school holds monthly meetings and students have opportunities to attend conferences and competitions, apply for scholarships and attend international conferences.

The competition process involves students in both a written exam or report and an interactive component with an industry professional serving as a judge. According to DECA’s website, competitive events directly contribute to every student being college and career ready when they graduate from high school.

Students work closely with the Milan Area Chamber of Commerce.  Administrative assistant, Norma Smith, said the chamber became involved with DECA through the vision of board member Scott Fairchild.  The chamber saw this alliance as an opportunity for the students to learn about business from a support organization standpoint.

Smith said the chamber views the program as a win/win situation for the chamber and the students. The Milan chamber suggests other chambers implement the program.  “There is a lot of vision and talent in our young people that can prove to be an asset to organizations, such as the Milan Area Chamber of Commerce,” Smith said.

DECA secretary Janessa Monahan is liaison to the chamber and this year, due to a change in the chamber by-laws, has voting rights.  Monahan said DECA is a very important part of her life and many opportunities have opened up for her.  She has been invited to attend DECA internationals and attend a chapter management academy held in Salt Lake City, Utah.c

Closer to home, Monahan is kept busy obtaining donations for the chamber, helping to promote chamber programs at her school, making phone call reminders of chamber events, and she recruited students to help with the chamber float used in the Milan Christmas Parade.  “Janessa is very enjoyable to work with,” Smith said.

Trevor Hawkins is also very pleased to be a DECA member claiming it’s the best thing he’s ever participated in.  A  member recruiting week was held recently during lunchtime at the school.  Several members represented the club. Haley Nicholas, a sophomore, was busy handing out applications.  This is Nicholas’ second year in the club and she said besides all the things they learn, she enjoys meeting new people.

Some of the highlights for the 2011-2012 school year, include two students that were accepted to the leadership academy at the national Career Development Conference, 11 students that competed at the Michigan DECA Career Development Conference in Dearborn, 18 medals won between the members at three different levels of competition and more than $1,000 received from local businesses that support the chapter mission.  The club members also raised money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, as part of the chapter charity program.

For more information on DECA visit, or email faculty advisor, Karen Sterzik at sterzikk [at] milanareaschools [dot] org.

Joyce Ervin is a freelance writer.  She can be contacted at:  jlervin42 [at] yahoo [dot] com

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