DECA Launch 2023

San Jose, California – From Saturday, August 12th to Sunday, August 13th, over 70 incoming freshman  students participated in Harker’s 10th annual DECA Launch. This event aims to educate students about Harker DECA’s business and entrepreneurship programs as well as DECA’s competitive events. 

“DECA Launch is one of the most important events that our chapter does every year. It is integral for the development of future Harker DECA members as we are able to introduce them to the basics of DECA. Students get their first time experience in roleplays where they give ten minute impromptu speeches in front of mentor judges. Overall, I truly love touching new students and helping them bloom during this unique annual event.” said Chloe Lee (12), Chief Executive Officer.

Saturday morning, students made their way to the Nichols Atrium and received customized tote bags, t-shirts, and name tags before enjoying breakfast. Participants made their way to the Nichols Auditorium for the Opening Ceremony. Co-Chief Executive Officers Claire Luo (12) and Chloe Lee (12) welcomed attendees to Launch by introducing DECA’s mission and goals for the organization. To demonstrate DECA’s lifelong impact, the former Director of Community Engagement, Rohan Varma spoke about how he was encouraged to find the comfort in being uncomfortable. After, Saahira Dayal (11), a ICDC Top 3 finalist, shared her competitive experience and advice to new students.

Following the Opening Ceremony, attendees met their Innovation Challenge groups to compete in a scavenger hunt that took them all over Harker’s Upper Campus. Riddles led them to a location where they would be met with an officer and complete a task. The winning team members received a 10 dollar Amazon gift card. 

Next was lunch, followed by a a further in depth explanation of DECA’s event clusters: Business Administration and Management, Hospitality and Tourism, Finance, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship. Officers presented the general concepts and idea behind each cluster to help students better understand what they might want to later pursue in the school year. 

Later, the students were introduced to the Innovation Challenge– an activity for students to become entrepreneurs by designing a product and presenting a business plan. The theme for this year’s innovation challenge was “Off the Grid,” which encouraged the groups to explore ideas without relying on technology or artificial intelligence. Before the end of the first day, participants met with their groups to brainstorm possible products.

Sunday kicked off with fresh bagels in Nichols and an introduction to Harker’s business and entrepreneurship programs like BEcon, Incubator, TedX, and more. Next was a more in depth exploration of DECA’s competitive events through a Kahoot game of sample test questions led by Maya Affaki (11), the Director of Testing, and a live roleplay as well as some tips and tricks led by Robinson Xiang (10), the Director of Roleplays. 

After the competitive events session, attendees made their way to the Innovation Center to attend a graphic design workshop led by Gabe Li (11), Vice President of Public Relations, Lauren Lin (11), Director of Communications, and Kimi Yashar (10), Director of Technology.

“I loved the graphic design workshop and how engaging it was! All the information was so relevant to what we were doing and I loved being able to apply what I learned in my innovation plan right after” said Evan Yuan (9).

The student began a period of free work time as the Roleplay Tournament ran simultaneously. Harker DECA mentors arrived to assist judging the roleplays while the remaining students continued working on their Innovation Challenge projects. 

Shortly after, parents arrived to the Nichols Auditorium for the Closing Ceremony which started off with an Alumni Panel led by Eden Kelly (10), Director of Engagement. Following the panel, students joined their parents and presented their innovation plans while the judges calculated the scores.

Winners are as follows:

Roleplay Tournament:

1st Place: Jennifer Liu, Kayla chen

2nd Place: Abigail Sasche, Raeanne Li

3rd Place Kai Nishimura, Alexis Leo

Innovation Challenge:

Honorable Mention: Isabelle Niu, Pascal Qin, Nisha Padhi, Jennifer Liu, Daniel Zhu

Most Innovative: Chelsea Xie, Ellie Zhou, Laya Sunkara, Brianna Madrigal, Aaron Luo, Ian Lee

Best Presentation: Eva Liu, Elaine Xu, Samaara Patil, Sean Wang, Ethan Gu

Best Overall: Alice Luo, Anya Dhall, Elizabeth Zhang, Sam Li, Haofang Zhu, Kristyan Kurtev