CACDC 2014

San Jose, California – From Wednesday February 5, 2014 to Sunday February 2, 2014, over 100 students from The Harker School DECA chapter traveled to the Marriott Hotel in Anaheim to attend California’s State Career Development Conference. This was a three-day business conference and competition with workshops featuring renowned speakers, events with tough opponents, and experiences for a lifetime. Harker performed admirably with 26 finalists (Top Eight) and 16 individuals in the top four qualifying for the International Conference. In addition, Harker is sending 8 individuals to ICDC for either the stock market game or the Virtual Business Challenge. 

Finalists are as follows:

First Place

  • Simran Singh (11), Entrepreneurship Written Plan

Second Place

  • Julia Fink(12); Apparel and Accessories Marketing
  • Ray Xu (9); Principles of Finance
  • Riya Chandra(9), Alexis Gauba(9), Entrepreneurship Innovation Plan
  • Emily Lin(12), Allison Sun (12), Director of Technology, Sports and Entertainment Marketing Operations Research Event

Third Place

  • Ankur Karwal(10), Mehul Khetrapal(10), Entrepreneurship Innovation Plan
  • Leo Yu(11), Sophia Luo(10), Hospitality and Tourism Operations Research Event
  • Simran Singh (11), Manthra Panchapakesan(11), Marketing Communications Team Decision Making Event
  • Alex Mo(9), Professional Selling Event

Forth Place

  • Sachin Vadodaria(12), Director of Individual Series Events; Business Finance Individual Series Event
  • Raymond Xu (9), Principles of Finance

Fifth Place

  • Shannon Hong(10), Director of Public Relations; Restaurant and Food Service Management Indv. Series Event
  • Monica Thukral (12), President; Food Marketing Indv. Series Event

Sixth Place

  • Arben Gutierrez-Bujari (9), Professional Selling Event
  • Jonathan Lee (11), Sports and Entertainment Marketing Operations Research Event

Seventh Place

  • Sapna Suresh (12), Entrepreneurship Participating – Franchising
  • Jeton Gutierrez-Bujari(11), Glenn Reddy(11), Marketing Communications TDM
  • Sandip Nirmel (9), Principles of Finance

Eighth Place

  • Mabel Luo(12), Secretary; Business Services Marketing Indv. Series Event
  • Ria Ghandi(9), Entrepreneurship Participating – Independent 

On Wednesday after school, 103 students took the charter buses from Harker to Anaheim, stopping only for In-and-Out Burger. Thursday morning, Harker hosted a chapter breakfast at Denny’s and “Officer Hours” during which students could come for last minute advice and tips. That afternoon, students took their written examinations and headed to the Grand Ballroom for the Opening Session. During the opening session, freshman, Sandip Nirmel, spoke to the crowd, urging them to vote him as President of the 64th California DECA Team. Although Harker’s contestant did not win, he did a great job and was recognized by many of his peers as a rising star.

“For me, this year’s State CDC can be summed up in four words: Talk about awesome, possum!! Leading up to the conference, I really didn’t know what to expect.. The highlight of my conference definitely was speaking to a crowd of around 2,000 people on why they should elect me President. Standing onstage as the audience cheered and my school’s DECA chapter chanted, “Sandip! Sandip! Sandip!” made me smile, and it still makes me smile today, just a week later. As it turned out, standing at my booth for nearly five hours allowed me to meet so many charismatic and friendly people that I had never met before. This is what DECA is really about, in my opinion.” –Sandip Nirmel (9)

The hundreds of students gathered together again on Friday morning for their role-play events. Each student was issued a time slot. After the competition, Harker DECA took the students to Disneyland to relax after a challenging, but rewarding day. 

On Saturday, students competing in written events had their time to shine. Afterwards, the Recognition and Mini-Awards Session commenced. Harker was honored for it’s wonderful performance as a chapter; Harker was the only school across California to complete every single campaign: Membership, Global Entrepreneurship, Promotional, and Community Service. For this achievement, Harker earned six extra stops to the ICDC Thrive Academy. In addition, out of a total of six California teams to qualify for the International conference in the Stock Market Game, Harker sent three. 

“This was my first state conference as a freshman; I had so much fun meeting new people and seeing how wonderful and how big California DECA is. I used this conference more of as a learning experience to test out the waters for future year; I can’t wait for the next time.” – Haley Tran (9) 

Monica Thukral, (12) Harker DECA President, was this year’s California DECA student of the year. Her passion is one of the main reasons why the business and entrepreneurship program is as successful as it is now. 

“Being student of the year was really amazing. I got called back to the stage during the awards ceremony and afterwards people came up to me and congratulated me. I’m so grateful to Mr. Glass, to my officer team, and to remarkable chapter I’m proud to be a part of.”- Monica Thukral ‘12

The day ended with a conference dance, attended by hundreds of students. Many students were able to let loose and have fun after a full day of competing and learning about business. 

Throughout the weekend, workshops and protégé events were being help in the Marriot to complement the competition. Workshops ranged from communication, manufacturing, technology, start-ups, financial planning, and networking. Students that attended found them entertaining and helpful, eager to begin implementing some of the tips in their daily lives. 

“In our free time, we went to workshops, which covered topics about everything from understanding relationships between people to healthy business practices. It was really awesome to talk to the business professionals!” – Tong Wu (10) 

Protégé events are examinations based on specialized skillsets; the events are Green Business, Event Planning, Finance and Investing, Real Estate, and Emerging Leaders. Harker competed and finished top eight in every event. Two students placed top three; Shannon Hong(10) – 1st Place in Emerging Leaders, Mabel Luo (12) – 3rd Place in Event Planning. 

Finally, on Sunday, the Grand Awards Ceremony occurred. Harker took a record number of wins and left as one of the most respected schools. The International Career Development Conference will be occurring on May 2-7. Over twenty of our students are expected to represent us. Go Eagles!


“This conference is also my last states conference. It was definitely bittersweet. I’m so glad that we were so successful this year as a chapter. I’ve invested a lot of time into DECA with late nights and early mornings. But, I’ve really enjoyed all of it, especially working with other students and helping them prepare. I’ll miss it so much. DECA gave me so much in terms of how I’ve grown as a person; I’m definitely more confident and self-assured than I was before. Go Harker DECA!” – Monica Thukral (12), Harker DECA President, CA DECA Student of the Year