DECA is a student organization of over 200,000 members internationally and over 4,500 members here in California. It prepares its members for careers in business fields and integrates classroom instruction to the real world in order to prepare the next generation to be academically prepared, professionally responsible, community oriented, and experienced leaders. A lot of the DECA experience is focused around the competitions and have two main types of events: case studies and written events. In a case study, students are given a prompt in a time constraint that depicts a business scenario and it becomes the student’s job to discover creative and effective solutions to the problems presented. For written events, members select a prompt months before the conference, write a business plan, and present the plan to judges.
Through DECA, students have the opportunity to learn and grow as a person in ways unattainable in a typical classroom setting. They will also get to travel to competitions across the country including Anaheim, California and Atlanta, Georgia, compete to win on an international stage, gain leadership experiences, and meet new people from all over the globe. For students currently in DECA, they have the choice of how much effort they want to put into DECA. Thomas’ advice to members who want to really immerse themselves in the DECA experience is to find the opportunities that exist at their chapter and seize them. Students can talk to their chapter officers or advisors to ask how they can help out and if opportunities are lacking, they should create the opportunities.
Aside from being involved in DECA, Thomas is greatly affected by his half Chinese background. Growing up, Thomas has been fortunate enough to experience both Asian and American cultures side by side, which has helped him appreciate diversity. He believes that his biggest takeaway is not his knowledge of the two cultures, but his openness to new ideas. From this diversity, he has seen that different people live life and do things in different ways.
Looking back on his past three years of high school, Thomas thinks it is important to find someone who is a grade older and shares similar values and connect with this person. It is important to have a mentor-like figure because they were in your shoes just one year ago! They can really help with anything from picking classes to managing stress. Because Thomas was the only junior who was an Amador Valley DECA Chapter officer this past year, he had the opportunity to connect with students with the same values. He has found their advice and opinions to have affected many of his decisions in high school.
High school is going to be a tough ride, but completely immersing yourself in something you like is really important. Find something that you are really passionate about and just go all out on it. Live life for the opportunities given and remember that if your dream does not scare you, it is not big enough.