598 words | 2 page(s)

Shyness was my friend. Introvert is what some may have called me. Quiet is what my parents believed. Unsure and lacking confidence is what I felt. Every activity that required me to stand out was off-limits in my mind. I couldn’t wrap my head around events that needed me for any role for a follower. It just wasn’t in my thought process. Those were my school days before DECA. More specifically, those were the days before I was elected Vice President of Leadership for the Georgia Chapter of the Distributive Education Clubs of America. DECA is an international high school organization that prepares students in the arts of marketing, finance, leadership, management, and hospitality.

During my freshman year of high school I enrolled in a marketing class. The instructor was encouraging and motivational. The course material was interesting and she brought it alive, drawing me into the beauty of creating a voice for businesses and groups to get their message out. That first week of class hooked me and as the semester progressed my teacher asked me to join our high school DECA club. She saw leadership potential and insisted that I would be excellent in competition.

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Although shy, I felt at home with my DECA club friends. We shared the same goals and aspirations and quickly caught the bug of competition, but more importantly enjoyed the challenge of developing materials to tell a story for somebody else. In this environment it was easy to be myself. Together my club-mates and I have worked to raise funds for Breast Cancer Awareness through our annual Pink Out football game. There is a thrill and sense of ownership and accomplishment when we do for others.

This year, my senior year, I campaigned for, and won, the VP of Leadership at the state level. I chose to run because I have a passion for business, marketing, and leadership, and I wanted to be one of the role models that I had looked up to during my first years of going to DECA conferences. My campaign was tough as I ran against three well qualified candidates, all of whom I felt were stronger than myself. They mounted excellent campaigns and breezed through their speeches. Listening to them was exciting but also somewhat humiliating as I didn’t feel I held up to their levels of accomplishment or held the same lofty goals. But I persevered despite feeling unsure and totally incompetent with public speaking. I was absolutely mortified when I rose to the podium to address five hundred DECA delegates. I had a message, aspirations, and a desire to lead and when all was done, I had mounted the campaign that stood out to the membership. I was the newly elected VP of Leadership who would serve a membership of over 11,000 students.

As I look at my progression through high school, and more specifically my time with DECA at the local level in my club and at the state level attending DECA conventions, I am convinced that this experience paved the way from the childishness and naivety of youth to the maturity and competence of young adulthood. It was the jumpstart I needed to transition from childhood to adulthood. And that fear of public speaking: what fear? I love it and every time I get up in front of a body of students, or adults, I know that I can make a difference. In just a few short months I will join the hundreds of thousands of students who journey to college to begin the new chapter of their lives.

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