Hannah Kent and Hannah Russo will be taking on nationals after placing first in the state competition.
For Seneca High School seniors Hannah Kent and Hannah Russo, DECA Club has done more than increase their leadership skills, it has provided clarity on their future career paths.
According to the Lenape Regional High School District website, DECA Club prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.
With Kent joining as a sophomore and Russo joining as a junior, they both expressed gratitude toward the skills and experiences they have been presented — including their most recent accomplishment of placing first in the state competition under the “buying and merchandising” category, qualifying them for nationals.
The competition required Kent and Russo to complete a test relating to business terminology and personality, along with a “role play” presentation, displaying various marketing strategies to the judges.
“The role play was exactly what I want to do, I want to go into fashion, and I want to be the director of communications and marketing, and that was what our role play was — it was so cool. Plus, we won first place doing it,” Kent said.
Kent said she originally wanted to major in communications in college; however, DECA provided her the opportunity to identify an exact field of study she was interested in. She said placing first solidified she has the right vision for her career.
Russo said she originally planned to pursue a career in medicine, but is now interested in becoming a business major as a result of DECA.
“I think it does really good just at preparing you for that and just preparing you for the real world, talking to people, coming up with good ideas on the fly,” Russo said. “It gives you good communication skills as well. It’s taught me a lot of ways to cooperate with other people and really showcase how other people have different ideas than you and when you come together it can be really great.”
To prepare for nationals at the International Career Development Conference in Orlando, Fla., beginning April 27, the duo will continue to practice role playing and meeting with advisor Grace McCloskey.
They plan to take a similar approach with their presentation that allowed them to place first, keeping the judges engaged and involved throughout their demonstration.
“I’m excited for nationals because every time we sit down together we keep on going and going and going,” Russo said. “We bounce ideas off each other and it’s a really nice feeling — feeling so confident in one another’s ideas and really respecting each other.”
Kent chimed in saying, “We definitely bounce off of each other’s energy. I’m excited to learn more about business and to compete alongside her and to come up with more ideas.”
They both said DECA has given them more confidence and a chance to bond with other Seneca students.
“I wish more kids would do it. I think the more kids that do it the more motivated they would be and maybe they could find what they want to do too,” Kent said.
Russo said that by other students increasing their involvement in clubs like DECA, they will not only gain interpersonal skills, but it stands as a great networking opportunity as well.
“There’s so many different niche categories you can get yourself into, and it’s really cool. My advice is just try it out. Why not?” Russo said. “It would be really awesome to bring more kids to regionals, bring more kids to states and for people to find out what they like.”