DECA state officer shares triumphs and trial

Eric Chen, Editor-in-Chief

DECA, as an organization meant to develop business acumen in students, naturally involves improving one’s leadership skills by serving in elected positions. This past year, Grace Chialiva (‘18) had the distinction of serving as a Wisconsin State Officer.

“As a state officer, I am a representative of Wisconsin DECA and its 12,000 members,” said Chialiva. “We work with facilitating professional skills through conferences throughout the year, and we also have initiatives, which are related to our position.” As part of Leadership Council, an elite, selected group of Wisconsin DECA members, Chialiva managed members who participate in statewide projects involving the state officers’ initiatives.

She also mentioned how it takes a certain type of person to effectively lead as a state officer. “You definitely have to be adaptable at conferences,” said Chialiva. “You need to be able to adapt to stressful situations and improvise when things do not go as planned, and you need to be personable since you are dealing with people a majority of the time.”

Chialiva cited the people she would meet as a reason for applying for this position. “I really wanted this position in particular because you have a chance to work directly with DECA members and form personal connections,” she said. “You don’t get to meet as many people in other positions, but here, you get to work with members all-year-long.”

In order to become a state officer, Chialiva had to advance past a three-step process, competing against about forty applicants. The first stage is a portfolio of your involvement in DECA, in which potential officers must submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, and statements on why they want the position they are applying for.

Applicants are then screened further through an interview process, until there are two candidates left for each available position, who run against each other. The final six, who are to be next year’s state officer team, are chosen by a vote of over forty people, consisting of DECA members and various adults.

Despite the time commitment involved, Chialiva stated that the stress and workload was worth it due to the relationships she formed with her fellow state officers and DECA members. “It was an incredible experience learning how to lead a large group of people and making new friendships and connections throughout the year,” she said.

In addition, she mentioned that she learned a lot about herself as well during her tenure as a state officer. “I became comfortable with myself in a variety of social situations,” she said. I had many public speaking experiences — I talked onstage in front of 2000 people a number of times — and through DECA, I became much more confident than before.”

Her term as state officer ended after SCDC — a bittersweet ordeal. “I will definitely miss getting to work with DECA members and my Leadership Council members,” said Chialiva. “I will also miss the support, enthusiasm, and excitement my Leadership Council had for all of my initiatives. However, I won’t miss the stress that comes with the position, since it is very time-intensive. I am also looking forward to being back and spending more time with my chapter at Brookfield Central.”

Chialiva mentioned the DECA dance, held on the last night of state, as a particularly memorable moment. “I was with my chapter, which I love with my whole heart, as well as my state officer team,” she said. “All of my best friends from the state officer team and my chapter were together, and it was a great experience.”

As she looks ahead to ICDC and possibly a business career in college, Chialiva is saddened that her term as a state officer is over, but confident that she will create more memories with the rest of her chapter back at Central.