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There’s little that I can eloquently say about our DECA students other than to say that I’ve been floored by their interviews. Coy is a student that floored me. I could offer a longer introduction to this student, but her words have such vigor that waffling and paraphrasing would only rob them of their impact.
For those unfamiliar, 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.
Below is a brief transcript of our conversation. We spoke about her families’ storied history that ingrained good business sense and public speaking in her DNA. We chatted about her DECA presentation and how she transferred familial and school experiences to solve the entrepreneurial query on the fly. She lastly shared a sage piece of wisdom on why DECA presently matters for her and other students.
I was impressed with Coy in a way that is rare, despite the consistent flow of articulate and bright students I see for my job– read her response to my final question to see why.
Can you share a bit about yourself? Are you from Utah?
I was born and raised in Provo, Utah, excluding a few years in China. My dad had a start-up company– which plays later into my DECA experience– and he served an LDS mission in Taiwan, so he spoke Chinese, Mandarin I think. He ran the Chinese department in Beijing, and we moved for his work.
What was it like living in China?
It was definitely crazy. I didn’t speak any form of Chinese before moving because I was four. I went to an all-Chinese-speaking kindergarten, and my parents assumed that complete immersion would be helpful if we lived in China long-term. I didn’t speak any Chinese; my teachers didn’t speak English. Long story short, tears were shed. It was a big moment in my life.
Can you still speak any Mandarin? Has this experience threaded itself into your life here?
I learned a little there, but not much. Once I moved back, I entered the Chinese Immersion program at Wasatch Elementary. I’ve since gone back to China a few times and used my Chinese there, I passed the AP test here at Timpview, and I’m now enrolled in the UVU Concurrent Enrollment course to receive college credits for the class.
(As a quick aside, readers can take advantage of the Dual Immersion program at Wasatch Elementary, which is still taking enrollments until February 18, 2022, and you can find more information on Concurrent Enrollment classes here.)
Is this your first time at DECA?
Yes. I actually heard about DECA this year. I played basketball and volleyball in my first and second years. I’d decided I would only play volleyball this year. Since her first year, a friend has been doing DECA and invited me to DECA. Now I’m here, and I love it!
Could you tell me what category you presented in?
I presented in Entrepreneurship. I played a small business owner, and my partner and I were tasked to build a business presence with the local community for a walking cane company. Our company had a significant online presence, but it lacked a local presence.
I forwarded service as a way to get our foot in the door, then moved into long-term and sustainable business plans, which would mean partnering with communal institutions. I thought of nursing homes or physical therapy programs we could partner with, specifically. Prompts like Walking Cane Company presentations are fun; you have to think outside the box for solutions.
Were there any difficult questions that forced some difficult answers?
We came prepared for a mainstay question, which stump people: “What of the seven marketing tools can you use to achieve your goal?” I discussed targeted advertising to a smaller community through personalized human connection. Human connection was our marketing and advertising strategy, which would lead to implementing the online marketing plan after the fact.
What are your aspirations and goals after high school? Are there any skills that DECA has taught that might contribute to accomplishing your dream?
My current plan is to become an attorney, so comfort speaking publicly is more than helpful. I’m also reminded that business is a large part of our lives and in all walks of life. My dad had his start-up and eventually sold it. I was with him in New York when he sold his company, and I got to watch him become a Venture Capitalist. I hear him talk about building up start-ups and excitedly talk about the different business pitches, expressing what stands out to him. My dad says he looks for people who are looking to solve a problem, not just coming up with an excellent new idea. I always use that in my DECA role-play. “Here’s a problem we’re trying to solve for,” is a standard opener.
DECA reminds me that business belongs in every industry– you might not think the medical industry is a business, but studying DECA, you ask questions. “Where does the hospital get its funding from?” “How are hospitals marketing themselves to a niche audience?” Thinking in these terms helps you see the world differently; it’s beneficial to learn how to view and interpret advertising geared at you.
There’s another aspect of DECA that I’ve been thinking about recently. DECA is a platform where women can express their ideas and are given due diligence. I love that women can compete fairly and succeed– and we do; plenty of girls like me are winning these competitions left and right. DECA is an equalizer in many ways, teaching all people across all walks of life that their voice matters. That alone lifts people up in every aspect of their lives.