‘Don’t Mess With Oaktown’—DECA club qualifies for internationals as a team

Dean Vaglia, Staff Reporter

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Last year, Oakland University’s chapter of the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) was able to have all members qualify for the organization’s International Career Development Conference (ICDC).

This year, they have done it again. All 22 members of OU DECA qualified for competition in this year’s ICDC, scheduled for Apr. 13-16 in Orlando, Fla.

“I am more than proud of everyone for qualifying,” said Amanda Abi-Samra, president of OU DECA. “For the majority of people in the club, it is their first year, so the fact they qualified for internationals is amazing. I think it just shows how Oakland gets you ready for the content we are competing on.”

DECA events have a single member or a team tasked with a situation that needs to be worked out. This situation can be anything from selling a product to handling a public relations crisis. All 22 members qualified by competing in both the individual and group events. Members will have to choose whether to go to Orlando alone or as a team, due to DECA only allowing members to compete in one event at ICDC.  

OU DECA has had a short and successful history, according to Abi-Samra. The chapter was started in around 2016 by Anthony Piazza, Stephanie Pini and Austen Pratt. Chair of Management & Marketing Janell Townsend has served as the club’s adviser since the start.

Club membership is up from last year’s 16 registered members, making the group of 22 the largest in OU DECA’s history.

A number of reasons attracted students to OU DECA, but a common one was past experiences with the organization at the high school level, which was Abi-Samra’s case.

“I really wanted to continue to grow myself and develop myself from the experience I had in high school,” Abi-Samra said. “If you ask every single senior in college that joins, they always end up saying, ‘I wish I joined earlier.’”

For Townsend, being the adviser to OU DECA is her favorite part of her job.

“We stayed up very late the night before the competition,” Townsend said. “Everyone was practicing and working together, and it is amazing to see all these young people helping each other to progress and succeed.”

While OU DECA has the cause and time to celebrate, they do not plan on stopping until the last light is out in Orlando.

“There’s no doubt that the competition is going to be hard to beat,” said Sanjay Antani, secretary of competitive events. “We are up against the best of the best, especially after the preliminary round.… I am expecting to get down there and do some winning, do some networking, and I am already looking forward to it.”

Membership for OU DECA is locked in right now, as the only remaining competition is ICDC. But when fall semester comes around, the club will be looking for new members.

“[DECA] is an experience you can’t get anywhere else,” Abi-Samra said. “I’m sure a lot of us can be bored in our classes and really just want to get out there and be in the real world, and this is how you can do it.”