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My Detroit Story: 2001 Detroit & Michigan DECA Conference

in My Detroit Story by

“I never liked school.” That’s one of the most synonymous statements I’m known for. This comes as a surprise to many people today, because of my writing, reading, and 4.0 grade point average at Walsh Business College (in Troy MI). I’ve always been frustrated in class because I never understood how lessons are chosen to teach? (IN EXAMPLE: If I’d rather study Tupac Shakur than Shakespeare, why can’t I?). So graduating from high school in 2001, it was a surprise to myself, and others the way I flourished in DECA.

DECA (Distributive Education Club of America) is a school organization built to teach students ways to market products and services. Throughout many high schools it’s recognized as the organization that runs the school snack shop (IN EXAMPLE: the DECA Store). Marketing is the discipline I enjoy most today. I have always had a great appreciation for it. I believe through marketing you tell the story of a product or service with an understanding of how customers listen. Brainstorming ideas about how, why, and what products and services people would be drawn to is as simple as free-style (improvisational rapping) is to me. I love developing comprehensive, conceptual, and creative ideas (DetroitisDifferent). So unlike English, Physics, and Global Issues I actually applied myself in my Marketing class at Northwestern HS. My teacher Mrs. Bowman was also the finest teacher at Northwestern HS. I’m sure that encouraged me as well.

Mrs. Bowman registered all Marketing students to be a part of DECA. DECA met twice a month. I never attended a meeting.

I believe schools are deemed ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Based upon this label administration, programming, and resourcing is given to a school. Northwestern was a ‘bad’ school in 2001. Resources in security (Detroit Police Dept Gang Squad officers and weapons & drug sweeps); graduation assistance (night school and GED training); and few school groups (clubs and organizations) made up Northwestern HS in 2001. So as one of the few students with high report card markings, and decent attendance I was a part of many of many academic competitions. I generally found out the day of the event that I was a member of the Debate Team, Science Club, or Essay Contest. So in the Spring of 2001 when Mrs. Bowman told me I was a part of the city-wide DECA competition with DPS (Detroit Public Schools) I welcomed it as a day away an d out of class.

That day, at the Wayne State University Student Center’s 2nd floor forum, I joined many of the other ‘nerds’ from Northwestern HS in DECA. As usual I walked my own path. I was the only Northwestern HS student who did not work in a group. My Experience working with Burger King and Taco Bell (at that point in my life) led for me to select Quick Service Restaurant Management as my DECA discipline. Thereafter, I was asked a series of questions by business owners about how, why, and where I would market my business? What demographic/ target marketing tools would I be able to use.

After 4 hours of questioning & quizzing, and a free Subway sandwich, I won the silver medal in DECA DPS’s competition for the day. Mrs. Bowman was excited because no Northwestern HS student (till that point) individually qualified in the DPS DECA competition. I also won a place in DECA’s statewide completion. Mrs. Bowman told me that for one weekend at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborn MI the DECA Conference would happen, and I need to attend. I agreed. She also told me that the DPS DECA president specifically said “if he wasn’t so hip-hop he would have won the gold medal” (in reference to me.) Till this day I’ve taken that criticism as one of my favorite compliments.

Into the state conference the scenario changed. The Hyatt Regency in Dearborn in 2001 was one of the coolest hotels in the area. The setting matched the completion. Hundreds of students across the state filled the hotel. The state completion began with a written test of 100 plus questions to qualify to compete. I qualified easily. Thereafter the state completion had an oral exam. I scored one of the highest scores of the 2001 DECA competition for my oral exam. Finally the interview segment closed my DECA state competition. This is where I imagined launching my own fast food restaurant. I smashed the interview segment. I was the only DPS student who received an individual gold medal for the 2001 Michigan DECA competition. I won the placement, and trip to Orlando FL for the national competition. It fell on the same day as my Senior Skip Day, so I passed.

It was, and is encouraging to know my ideas can be understood and appreciated by others. Also it’s humbling to know it’s people who believe in my abilities when/ where I am finding the faith to. Mrs. Bowman always encouraged me to challenge DECA as opposed to the opposite. I did.

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