MTSU’s Collegiate DECA chapter and three of its student members are being recognized this spring for their leadership development activities by the national professional development organization for college and high school students.
MTSU was among only 18 collegiate chapters to receive the 2022 Chapter Leadership Passport Diplomat Award, while three students — marketing major C. Olivia Andersen; Allison Mullins, an MBA major concentrating on music business; and freshman music performance and economics major Christina Vongsiharath — received the 2022 Individual Leadership Passport Executive Award.
The honors, announced earlier this spring, were formally recognized at DECA’s Career Development Conference being held April 9-12 in Baltimore, Maryland, with roughly 800 DECA collegiate members expected to be in attendance.
“I decided to be involved in DECA to obtain new network connections, develop leadership skills, learn about various business operations, and to be in a club on campus for social interactions,” said Mullins, a Westport, Massachusetts, native who earned her bachelor’s in management with a small business and entrepreneurship concentration from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
The Collegiate DECA Leadership Passport Program encourages members, chapters and associations to plan activities and participate in events that build personal and professional skill sets focused around helping members be academically prepared, community oriented, professionally responsible and experienced leaders.
Mullins, vice president of career development for the 31-member MTSU chapter, coordinated the chapter’s application process for the awards and was thrilled with the results.
“I think that the chapter winning the 2022 Chapter Leadership Passport Diplomat Award is a great accomplishment,” said Mullins, who has been involved with DECA since she was a sophomore undergraduate.
“We work diligently to complete all tasks that were asked of us. This required us to go out into the community as well as step outside of our comfort zone and interact professionally with other leaders and affiliations.
“It is a great look for the chapter and for new members to see that we strive to reach all award opportunities offered to us.”
Vongsiharath, a Murfreesboro resident, has been involved with DECA for a year. With plans to attend graduate school, she said she hopes the chapter award encourages other MTSU students to join DECA because of its benefits for personal and professional growth.
“I wanted to gain some hands-on experiences from the business competitions and meet other students with similar interests as me,” she said. “DECA helped sharpen my networking skills and provided me with several opportunities to explore different fields within business.”
“I’m very happy to have received the (individual) award, and I’m glad I went through with the process because it allowed me to learn more about leading others and taking initiative, which I was not confident in before,” she added.
After graduation, Mullins plans to move to North Carolina to pursue a career in live events. She said the hands-on, experiential nature of DECA and the awards process have been helpful in preparing her for life beyond the classroom.
“We had to go out into the community and complete volunteer work, develop our resumes, goals, and interact with other chapters,” she said. “The officer team attended the conference in Austin, Texas, this past fall, and we learned a lot at the workshops, the networking sessions, and more. DECA is very inclusive and allows for all of us to help boost our resumes.”
The MTSU Collegiate DECA chapter adviser is Robert Blair, professor and interim chair of the Department of Marketing within the Jennings A. Jones College of Business. He said DECA’s presence in high schools provides “a smooth transition from high school to the university and allows a student to get his/her bearing while navigating the university experience.”
During the fall 2021 term, MTSU DECA officers attended the DECA ENGAGE Conference for leadership development training and an orientation to the organization on an international scale, said Blair. Beginning in the fall through early spring, members work toward individual and chapter leadership passport awards, resulting in the recent recognitions.
“I love working with this group and have served as a chapter sponsor to student organizations the majority of my career,” Blair said.
“From an adviser perspective, there is great value in seeing students apply what they have learned in the classroom and begin to blossom into a young professional in their chosen field.”
At the Baltimore conference, Blair said all attendees including advisers attended required professional development, heard from outstanding keynote speakers, and competed in a wide-range of events.
“Taking home DECA glass (trophies) has become a coveted tradition in addition to placement in the written contest and performance case-based events that cover all aspects of business and marketing,” he said.
Blair emphasized that the MTSU Collegiate DECA Chapter is open to anyone interested in business/marketing at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
For more information about the chapter, contact Blair at Robert.Blair@mtsu.edu or call 615-898-5284.
— Jimmy Hart (Jimmy.Hart@mtsu.edu)
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