Winter Conferences 2022-23

Anaheim and San Jose, California – Throughout the months of November and December, Harker DECA members attended two conferences to foster their professional development and competition skills: Western Region Leadership Conference (WRLC), hosted by California DECA in Anaheim, and Harker DECA Mock Conference (HDMC) hosted on the upper school campus by the Harker DECA officer team. 


From Thursday, November 17th to Sunday, November 20th, 2022, over 60 Harker DECA chapter members traveled to Anaheim for the Western Region Leadership Conference (WRLC), hosted by California DECA this year. WRLC is a noncompetitive, workshop-based conference designed to foster leadership and professional development skills as well as give new members an opportunity to learn more about DECA’s different clusters and events. 

“WRLC was an amazing experience and professional development opportunity for all of our attendees, and I’m extremely impressed with our chapter’s success. The conference was a great kickoff to our 2022-2023 competitive season, and I can’t wait to see how all of our students get the edge!” said chapter advisor Mr. Glass.

After arriving at the Anaheim Hilton on Thursday afternoon, students enjoyed lunch and had some free time before attending a workshop. Some of the workshops offered were “Competition 101: Rule the Role Play” with Jonathan Wilson and “Medical Sales 101” with Paris Deadmon. Additionally, officers had the opportunity to attend the Elevate Chapter Officer Academy. 

“I think going to the workshops was such a valuable experience. To hear from former DECA members and how DECA really helped them in their current endeavors was motivating and helped me understand what my options are. I really liked hearing from DECA Jonathan and his tips in roleplays the most,” said Keren Eisenberg (10). 

Following the workshops, attendees checked into their hotel rooms and headed to competitive event testing, where they took a Business Administration test. Additionally, participants in DECA Garage, an entrepreneurial competition ran by Shark Tank winner Jason Lucash, attended the event’s kickoff and some leadership lessons. 

After that, attendees made their way to the California DECA opening session, where the state officer team welcomed all chapters to the conference and laid out the schedule for the weekend. They then went to the DECA red carpet, where they had the opportunity to meet and take pictures with Spider-Man, Darth Vader, and Anna and Elsa. 

Later that night, participants attended the WRLC opening ceremony, hosted by NBC’s Bryan West. After a brief introduction from the California DECA state officer team, participants had the opportunity to hear from motivational speaker Shaun Derik, who engaged the audience through different games and songs, as well as talked about the importance of music. The state officer team also announced a scavenger hunt via Goosechase for prizes throughout the conference. 

Day two of WRLC started off with a chapter meeting, where Harker students checked in with their chaperones and debriefed how the conference was going so far. Following that, attendees made their way to the general session, opened by DECA’s Vice President of the Western Region, Danielle Poulin. The session started off with a keynote from the DECA diamond note winter and president of Washington DECA, Anika Halappanavar. She talked about how to be a successful leader, and how to allow oneself to grow and be the best version of themselves. 

“Leadership is truly what you make it,” said Halappanavar. “Every opportunity you don’t take is an opportunity lost. Take that leap to make an impact.”

Additionally, attendees had the opportunity to hear from keynote speaker and magician, Jeff Kaylor. Kaylor shared stories and performed numerous magic tricks with the audience.

After the general session, Harker DECA members attended more workshops, including “How to Sell Yourself” and “Pitch like a Boss.” 

In the evening, students had the opportunity to explore Anaheim and go to Knott’s Berry Farm with friends.

“It was an unforgettable experience and easily one of the best moments of an amazing conference,” said Umair Paranjpye (9). 

Day 3 started off with a roleplay competition, where students had the chance to participate in a Marketing Communications Series (MCS) roleplay contest for awards. After roleplays, attendees went to some more workshops, including “Interviews that Impress” and “Take Your Journey to the Next Level.”

“WRLC was educational, social, and fun, hosting many creative workshops to introduce students to the large field of business. But most importantly, it was fun, due to the social connectivity,” said Krish Arora (9). 

Following workshops was downtown DECA, where students had the opportunity to visit the DECA Garage and invest their “DECA Dollars” into which business ideas they liked the most. 

Two Harker DECA members, Executive Vice President Rohan Gorti (12), and Chief Executive Officer Anika Muddu (12), pitched their dog toy company, TuffToy, and were one of the top 3 groups with the most invested DECA Dollars. 

Later, the Harker DECA officer team went to the Anaheim garden walk to bond and reflect on the conference thus far. 

Day 3 concluded with the closing ceremony, opened by motivational speaker and gold medal olympian in track & field, Deedee Trotter, who taught the audience how to “Unleash their inner champion.” Afterwards, Western Region VP, Danielle Poulin, announced the awards for roleplays, testing, Goosechase, and DECA garage.

Awards are as follows:

1st Place - MCS: Anika Muddu (12), Shreeya Merchia (11),  Sanna Bhorkar (10), Keren Eisenberg (10), Yena Yu (9), Leana Zhou (9), Menaka Aron (10), Ethan Leelanivas (9), Angelina Antony (9)

2nd Place - MCS: Ariana Gauba (10), Claire Luo (11), Lauren Lin (10), Daniel Miao (9), Amishi Gupta (9)

3rd Place - MCS: Gabe Li (10), Gia Emelie (10), Emily Mitnick (10)

3rd Place - Goosechase: Sophia Bagley (9), Amishi Gupta (9), Sophia Ou (9), Stella Yang (9)

Wildcard Winner - Goosechase: Gia Emelie (10)

1st Place - DECA Garage & Pitch: Anika Muddu (12) & Rohan Gorti (12), TuffToy


On Friday, December 2, 2022, over 50 Harker students attended the Harker DECA Mock Conference (HDMC), at the upper school campus. HDMC is an opportunity for Harker students to practice their events before regionals and the official competitive season.

The conference began in the innovation center with registration, where students were given logistics about the conference and had the opportunity to socialize with each other and the officer team. 

Following registration, students competed in a Kahoot!, consisting of possible test questions and performance indicators they might see in competition, for candy prizes. After that, attendees took practice exams that simulated the testing environment they will be in at competitions. 

“HDMC’s testing session was a great experience for Harker DECA members to get the feel of what an actual conference will be like. It’s great that a lot of our first-year members were able to get that experience before they compete at SVCDC, and I was really happy with the outcome!” said Director of Testing, Gia Emelie (10). 

The next couple of hours consisted of attendees enjoying a dinner of pizza and donuts, preparing for their roleplays, and presenting their roleplays to volunteer parent judges. This year, attendees were able to choose any roleplay that they wanted to present, to better prepare themselves for the upcoming Silicon Valley Career Development Conference. 

Director of Roleplays, Sanna Bhorkar (10), and Director of Testing, Gia Emelie (10), introduced the four-flight roleplay tournament, with some general tips and tricks for presenting. Students presented mock interviews and industry-based situations to parent judges with unique industry backgrounds. 

“In the beginning of my roleplay, I was a little stressed because I was worried about there being any performance indicators that I didn’t know, but after I went into it, mentally preparing myself and following my mentor’s advice really helped. I felt really good during the roleplay because my judge was really nice and even cracked some jokes in between,” said attendee Amishi Gupta (9).

“In the beginning of the roleplay tournament, I was pretty nervous, but as time went on and I got into the flow of things, I felt more relaxed and ready to present. My mentor’s advice was really helpful while doing my roleplay” - Yena Yu (9).

To conclude the competitive sessions, judges reviewed participant’s executive summaries of their written events. An extremely important component of all DECA written events, being able to receive feedback on executive summaries helped students gain the competitive edge needed to stand out at conferences. 

One parent judge noted, “students showed a lot of creativity by coming up with improved and out-of-the-box solutions!”

Finally, HDMC wrapped up with the closing and awards ceremony. Students were recognized for their hard work throughout the conference, and top scorers were acknowledged. 

The Top 5 winners are as follows: 

Aashvi Ravi (9), Pavitra Kasthuri (9), Amishi Gupta (9), Syna Sharma (9), Terry Xie (9)

“We were able to stimulate a conference environment for our students through the testing session, roleplay tournament and an executive summary review session. It gave them a chance to make some final improvements on their roleplay skills and written plans before our first competitive conference, SVCDC, next year in January. The other officers and myself can see that the freshmen came a long way since their first introduction to DECA during Launch this August. We are extremely excited to see their performance at the district and state conferences next year!”said Chief Executive Officer Anika Muddu (12).

About The Harker School DECA

Harker DECA is an International Competitive Business Organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in four fields of business: marketing, finance, hospitality, and management. Our DECA chapter integrates classroom instruction, applies learning, connects to business, and promotes competition in order to prepare the next generation to be academically prepared, community oriented, professionally responsible, and experienced leaders.