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I love that my job puts me in front of passionate students– students who look past the here and now, prepared for life outside of this year or even the next. This past week, I was lucky enough to interview one such student, Esther, a DECA Regionalist.

For those unfamiliar with DECA, DECA (An Association of Marketing Students) is a not-for-profit organization preparing high school and college students for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management globe wide. DECA students put their entrepreneurial knowledge to the test through DECA events that include written components like an exam or report, and an interactive component with a professional industry serving as a judge.

We discussed her experience moving from Peru to Utah, examined how she applied knowledge from lived experiences to win regionals and explored a few of her post-graduation aspirations. Below is a brief transcript of our conversation.

Could you share a little about yourself?

I was born and raised in Lima, Peru, moved to Los Angeles in 2012, and then moved to Utah in 2014. I like the calm nature of Utah– my family likes the weather here, excluding snowy drives.

I participate in DECA and the Debate Club. I also love creative writing– mostly fantasy fiction– and I plan on publishing a four book series, hopefully. I enjoy illustrating, mostly black-and-white realism in graphite. I wouldn’t say I like working with colors– color theory is too complicated.

Was this your first DECA Event?

This is my first year in DECA. I wanted to last year, but there were setbacks last year due to COVID. I took online classes, so I waited until this year to give this my go, and I’m glad to be here.

Could you tell me which category you participated in and share the details of your roleplay?

I did Hospitality and Tourism Management. I wanted to try something I wasn’t familiar with, something weird and niche to me, and it turned out well. The judge played the part of an angry customer, and they were wondering why the walk-in price for a hotel was higher than they expected. I talked the customer through a cost breakdown and offered solutions to lower their fare.

While reading the role-play prompt, I realized that the online fares were cheaper and also allowed users to apply discounts and coupons. I also shared our hotel rewards program that further discounted their price.

The customer then found a lower price through a third-party agency. Part of my job, then, was to explain why third-party sellers can run into hidden fees and possible issues in booking, considering that we can’t guarantee how valid the room tickets might be.

I spoke from personal experience– I often book the rooms for my family, and third-party agencies have been terrible. Changes are nearly impossible to pull off with third parties, so I brought that up in my role-play.

So you drew on your background managing travel affairs for your family?

Yes. My parents aren’t fluent in English, so they ask my siblings and me to help where we can. Because of this, I tend to manage our travel and vacation details. I’ve lived through that headache before, and used it in my role-play.

Are there any classes that helped you prepare for this real-world scenario?

I believe that my Debate class helped. Debate teaches and conditions you to open up and speak in a public setting. Knowing how to communicate with someone who disagrees with you was very helpful. Thinking from a new perspective is also very useful in business.

Has DECA influenced the way that you tackle your post-graduation life?

I think about my future a lot. Yes, DECA has influenced the way that I think about my future. I want to achieve recognition through DECA to land a place in a business school of my choosing. I’ve got my sights on the field of business.

I want to be flexible. I believe pursuing business keeps me mobile. Entrepreneurial skills are valuable everywhere.

Spencer Tuinei
  • Communication Specialist
  • Spencer Tuinei