Jenna Vucelich, DECA State Public Relations representative shared her "Journey in CTE" at the 2010 All-Ohio CTAE Awards Luncheon, July 29.
My name is Jenna Vucelich and I am currently serving as the Ohio DECA Public Relations Representative. DECA is an organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, and management. But from a personal standpoint, DECA is an organization that has changed my life and prepared me for my future.
Ever since I can remember I have loved business. My dad, who is an entrepreneur himself, used to take me for Sunday night drives when I was eight years old. We would go to Starbucks for coffee and hot chocolate and drive around to look at houses. Those Sunday night drives taught me all about the world of real estate and investing and how “risk-taking” isn’t risky if you learn everything possible you can about the product, service or entity in which you wish to invest. I also learned that real personal power comes from living and spending below your means so that you can capitalize and grow your business at the right time. My dad used to tell me, “Business is everywhere. Just look around. Everything you see is a business.” So I looked, and began to see business everywhere I went.
At twelve years old I started my first business. I purchased an inflatable bounce house with my own money and rented it out for birthday parties. I gained my initial investment back after just two parties and expanded my business to include additional games for the kids.
Fast-forward a couple of years to my freshman year of high school. I was taking every business class my school offered. Introduction to Business, Accounting, International Business, Personal Finance, and Advance Placement Micro and Macro Economics. The Marketing Education class which branches into DECA, was known as a class for serious business students at my school. I had no idea what DECA was or what they even did in the class, but I was the first to fill out an application my junior year when I was eligible.
One reason I immediately valued DECA was that it allowed me to put all of my previous knowledge of business into action. I was able to apply what I had learned from all of my other business classes. I spent my first year in DECA working on a project in the category of Financial Literacy Promotion. I promoted financial literacy through different activities like writing commercials that I recorded and were played on 610 WTVN and WNCI and spending a week in a middle school classroom promoting different financial concepts.
I wrote about everything I did in a thirty-page document and submitted it for the state competition. I created many drafts of that thirty-page paper and along the way my teacher and advisor, Mike Rees, would write, “This is good, but you can do better”, or “Keep trying, you’re not there yet.” Now to some, this might seem discouraging, but I had such great respect for Mr. Rees’ honesty, that I could sense he saw greater potential in me. At the state competition, my thirty-page paper made it to the top ten, which afforded me a ten-minute presentation to the judges. After this, I was awarded first place in the state of Ohio for my project and provided the opportunity to go to Anaheim, California for the International Career Development Conference and connect with 15,000 kids who shared my passion for business.
At the beginning of my senior year, my teacher, Mr. Rees encouraged me to run for the position of public relations representative. Our high school had never had a state officer before so this was new territory. Mr. Rees made sure I had all the materials to study for the examination and listened a ton of times to my verbal presentation. I went on to become my school’s first state officer and first multiple state champion. This year I placed at state again in the area of Entrepreneurship Promotion and again got the chance to compete at the international competition.
DECA has provided me with so many opportunities that I can’t even begin to express my gratitude. High school classes may prepare students for college, but Career Technical education prepares students for life. There will always be a special place in my heart for my DECA advisor because of his significant impact on my life through encouragement and pushing me to stretch outside of my comfort zone. It saddens me when monetary resources are tight career and technical programs are on the chopping block. I want to do my part to draw specific correlations from investing in youth to youth investing back into greater commerce for the benefit of all.
My most recent adventure is going to Miami University, where in the fall, I will join over 16,000 students who are making an investment in their own futures. A graduate of Miami, Mr. Richard Farmer has donated over thirty million dollars for the development of a state-of-the art business college. He was CEO of the Cintas Corporation and will now leave a prominent legacy for those of us declaring majors in business.
I’m certain that because of DECA, I’ve been selected as one of only 25 first year students that will be part of the Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community within the Farmer Business College. I aspire to be that next CEO, volunteer, or professional making that kind of a difference. My hope is to learn everything I can, apply everything I’ve learned and to make an imprint and impact in every thing I do.
I’m ready to soar, and I want to say, thanks for my wings, DECA and thanks to my advisor for encouraging me with my first flight. Just like kids need their parents, students need their teachers. Believing in us is power. Believing in us gives us flight to our dreams, and our future.
Educators such as you need to remember what a difference you make…even when your students forget to acknowledge you. I challenge you to push a little harder and encourage a little more. I promise that one-day, in the middle of a workday, a specific successful outcome or even when giving a speech, a student will reflect back on you, and the difference your push and encouragement made. They, like me, will be thankful and they will think an appreciative thought of you.
On behalf of all of your students, thank you.