DECA: Learning through competition

Kelly Skelton
Connector Staff

A new club with a passion for competition and team-building has launched on campus this fall. DECA, which stands for the Distributive Education Club for America, now has a UMass Lowell chapter.

The organization is common among high schools, allowing for students to engage in business competitions. The idea was brought forward by Hanifah Nankinga, a senior in the Manning School of Business (MSB) with concentrations in finance and management.

DECA provides a unique, cross-functional purpose of combining business minds with other majors to facilitate organized projects. The organization features five pillars for engagement and competition including Business Management/Administration, Finance/Accounting, Marketing/Communications, Entrepreneurship and Hospitality/Tourism.

Nankinga looked to implement a new opportunity into the MSB with the DECA organization. “I brought DECA to the Manning School of Business because it gives students a great way to test-run their major, travel to different states and develop a competitive edge,” said Nankinga. The response was successful, recruiting 30 registered members and 60 on the mailing list. The organization is looking to grow even further after their quick start.

Nankinga combined her knowledge with DECA Vice President Drew Lambert’s past experiences. Lambert had an active role in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club in his high school. When Nankinga presented the idea of DECA last spring, Lambert was immediately interested.

“One of the best things about DECA is that we are the one organization that says we are not content with just learning for a test or class, we want to actually use these skills and gain from them through competition and teamwork,” said Lambert.

The organization has two aspects that students are encouraged to become a part of. First, there are general body members. These members are provided with the opportunity to attend a series of business speakers, workshops and meetings. Secondly, there is the competitive team. This element of DECA requires a higher level of commitment, but yields much more hands on engagement.

DECA’s short-term goals are focused on piecing together their competitive team of roughly 20 members. Once established, the team will compete in districtwide and statewide competitions with the possibility of national outcomes. Their first test will be a scrimmage at Endicott College in December.

DECA was recently approached to assist the UMass Lowell Racing Club with their grand-scale car show this spring. The group was enlisted to provide solutions for efficiency gaps and create a bridge between the colleges of engineering and business. DECA will be providing supply chain support for the event.

DECA’s current member-base consists of mostly upperclassman with most of the e-board being senior level students, with the exception of group secretary Tyler Murphy, a junior in the Manning School of Business. Nankinga said she is aware and motivated to create a long-lasting stay for the DECA program.

“My hope for the future of DECA is continuous growth, giving more students the same opportunities as today, in 30 years from now,” said Nankinga. Freshmen and sophomore students are of high interest to join as they will be the next generation of the DECA program.

DECA meetings are held on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. in Southwick 240. To join the general body experience of DECA, students may visit the Engage portal at UMass Lowell or email the organization directly at manningdeca@gmail.com. To apply for the DECA competitive team, students must submit a resume and category of interest (from the five pillars listed previously) to manningdeca@gmail.com by Nov. 5. The team will be announced on Nov. 6.

To stay connected with all of DECA’s events and developments, the group encourages social media engagement via the following channels: Facebook: ManningDECA, Twitter and Instagram: @Manning_DECA.

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