Foothill DECA team advances to international finals

Team swept 73 awards at this year's state event

More than a dozen students from Foothill High School are heading to Orlando, Fla., at the end of this month for the DECA International Career Development Conference.

The Foothill DECA team is planning on another award-sweeping performance like a month ago at the State Career Development Conference in Anaheim, where students took home a total of 73 awards and some placed in multiple categories.

DECA is a global organization that helps prepare students for careers as professionals in the areas of marketing, finance and hospitality. Participants also learn new skills “in the areas of collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity” at DECA events, according to its website.

Foothill team member Ananth Kumar called this year’s competition “one of the best ones yet.”

“Not only did more than 10 competitors from Foothill qualify to compete at the international conference in April, but Foothill DECA grew closer as a whole,” Kumar said. “From Disney adventures to long bus rides to birthday celebrations, this year’s SCDC was definitely one to remember.”

Foothill already has some highlights in its DECA history, including taking second place at last year’s competition in Georgia and numerous past victories at the state and regional level. Students are tested on and demonstrate their business skills over the course of several days through written projects, comprehensive testing and impromptu presentations.

Senior team members who are graduating at the end of the school year like Foothill DECA co-president Rithvik Sunku said that the team “became an outlet to apply my classroom learning while growing as a leader” and made everyone “well equipped with the skills needed to succeed in the next chapter of their life.”

Brandon Ricci, director of technology, added that the experience “helped me in all aspects of life to become an emerging leader in the business world.”

“Coming to high school, not knowing what I wanted to do with the next four years of my life, DECA was the perfect place to be,” Ricci said. “DECA created a family-like atmosphere for a kid who didn’t know where to go and that is something I will always be thankful for.”

Around the time of the state conference, the Foothill DECA Leadership Committee also organized a different event with the Pleasanton Partners in Education Foundation, helping students in career technical education and other courses prepare for the work world by presenting judges with one-minute pitches and undergoing mock job interviews. Various local business leaders volunteered as judges and fired off a range of questions for students, asking them about everything from their hobbies to plans for the future.

Simone Pereira, the team's junior DECA administrator, called the mock interview session “a great experience” and “a way for me to develop leadership and organizational skills.”

“There was a lot of work involved to plan an event like this,” Pereira said. “But at the end, the work really paid off when I saw the student get excited about the future or felt really happy about the interview.”

The following Foothill students advancing to the international competition in Orlando on April 27-30 are as follows:

Keyana Bahadori

Jacob Bolano

Trinity Chang

Sidhi Dhawan

Grace Kim

Ananth Kumar

Kylie Maeda

Rhea Nirkondar

Isabella Pang

Simone Pereira

Noelle Simmons

Rithvik Sunku

Mihir Weling

Nathan Williams

Dylan Zhou

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