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Shaner earns third place overall at DECA conference

Three Northampton Area High School Distributive Education Clubs of America members earned the organization’s highest honors at DECA’s annual International Career Development Conference in Atlanta, Ga., April 23-26.

Students receiving recognition at the international level were Sarah Shaner, financial consulting event, third place overall, and Ezekiel Colyer and Mitchell Mondschein, financial services team decision-making event finalists.

During the school year, approximately 100,000 of DECA’s 160,000 high school student members take part in the organization’s competitive events program, allowing them to compete for local, regional and state titles. The competitions are designed to simulate real-life business scenarios and test students’ academic understanding and skills development. The top state winners put their talents to the test during the program’s final round of competition in Atlanta. The International Career Development Conference was the pinnacle of competition, where nearly 18,000 students vied for international honors. More than $300,000 in scholarships and awards were presented to students and teachers for their achievements.

This year’s conference featured nearly 18,000 members and advisers in attendance. In addition to career-based competition, DECA members engaged in leadership academies and networking opportunities with more than 70 internationally recognized businesses and universities.

The NAHS DECA chapter was started in 1976 by Pat Vulcano, and he achieved much success during his tenure. Since 2001, when it was taken over by Tara Mrazik, there have been 26 students recognized on the international stage (including this conference).

Having Shaner, Colyer and Mondschein make it to the finals was a tremendous feat and celebrated by all of Northampton DECA. Having made the top 20 overall, the three finalists then competed again in the final round. It was at the grand awards ceremony that Shaner’s name was announced as the third-place winner. This was the first time an NAHS student earned the coveted “DECA Glass.”

Having a student finish third place overall is almost unfathomable. This amazing accomplishment was celebrated by all of Pennsylvania DECA.

“Having competed in financial consulting for the past four years, it was especially meaningful for my hard work to finally pay off and be recognized at the international level. Winning third place was definitely an incredible way to end my time with DECA,” said senior Shaner, who is the chapter president, having been recognized at ICDC.

Tara Mrazik, DECA adviser, said, “Consequently, Sarah was the only student from NAHS DECA on this trip to ever attend an in-person ICDC before. The pandemic forced the 2020 ICDC to be canceled and the 2021 ICDC to be held virtually. We were thrilled to be able to bring our 27 NAHS DECA students back to an in-person conference this year.

“This year’s group were some of the kindest, most hardworking students I have ever known. It is my hope that the experience was truly meaningful to each of them. They were well prepared and represented our Konkrete Kid community with pride. I am extremely proud of each of the Northampton Area High School DECA members in attendance and especially happy for the three students recognized on stage at the 2022 DECA International Career Development Conference,” Mrazik added.

DECA is a career and technical student organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs who are interested in careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. DECA enhances the preparation for college and careers by providing co-curricular programs that integrate into classroom instruction, apply learning, connect to business and promote competition.

DECA student members leverage their DECA experience to become academically prepared, community oriented, professionally responsible and experienced leaders. DECA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with more than 225,000 members in 4,000 high school and college chapters in all 50 United States, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico and Germany.

For more information about DECA, visit deca.org.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Northampton Area High School students Sarah Shaner, Ezekiel Colyer and Mitchell Mondschein gather for a group photo during Distributive Education Club of America's annual International Career Development Conference in Atlanta, Ga., April 23-26. Shaner won third place overall in the financial consulting event, and Colyer and Mondschein were finalists in the financial services team decision-making event.