MSUM’s DECA chapter has had many successful students excel over the years. This year, yet another DECA national leadership role has been filled by an MSUM student, Zac Spohn. Zac, a senior business administration major, is the new Executive President of Collegiate DECA.
Although Zac has been involved with DECA since his freshman year at MSUM, his time in the organization actually started when he was in high school. He says that if it were not for his involvement at that time, he wouldn't have found himself at MSUM today.
“When I first joined [DECA], school wasn't my favorite thing in the world,” he said. “But DECA gave me a purpose and desire to do better in school that turned my academic career around and let me attend college at MSUM.”
Through conferences and competitions, DECA prepares students to be leaders and entrepreneurs in business after graduation. Zac says he owes a lot to DECA, and he and the rest of the students in the organization have proven their time and dedication are well worth it.
Last year, MSUM advanced 33 members to the international competition, which according to Zac, is the most members in the chapter’s history. Due to COVID-19, the competition was canceled, but the members were still recognized for their outstanding achievements.
In this year’s competitions, MSUM won half of the events at the state conference and had four members place in the top three at international competition, setting another record for the university.
“We’ve had a really cool string of success the past few years,” he said.
As he prepares for the upcoming year, Zac’s goal is to bring in new and engaged members.
“As Collegiate DECA President, my role is to represent and be a brand ambassador for the entire organization. Internationally, there are thousands of members, mostly in the United States but in Canada, Puerto Rico, and a few spots in England, too,” Zac explained.
He works with the rest of the officer team, which is made up of students from different chapters around the nation. Throughout the year they keep members engaged, ensure they get the most out of their experience, and lead national conferences.
Due to last year’s difficulties with the pandemic, Zac realizes his job will have its own challenges. The international competition in spring 2022 will be the first in-person competition in three years, and for Zac the first one since his freshman year.
“This officer team is going to have the unique responsibility to rejuvenate our organization and get people excited again after a year of virtual competitions.”
Not only has the pandemic brought change and challenge that affects DECA; Zac knows there are other areas that need to be recognized, too.
“We have a really diverse officer team that wants to make sure that we are as inclusive as we can possibly be,” he said. “The last year has brought forth many reckonings whether that is race, inclusivity otherwise, or LGBT people and we want to make sure that we are welcoming them.”
Zac’s term as executive president started at the beginning of May. As he begins his role, he reflects on the connections he’s made over the years.
“DECA has opened doors for me and helped me build relationships with people who I probably wouldn't have otherwise. I have met a lot of my best friends through DECA and developed relationships with professors and faculty,” he said.
Two of those professors are Lori Johnson and Ralf Meland, who serve as DECA’s advisors. Zac was also able to work with Executive Director of Minnesota Collegiate DECA, Jennifer Shouse-Klassen who says Zac is “compassionate, competent, and driven.”
Jennifer applauds Zac and other members’ innovation during the pandemic.
“Zac, like most of our members, worked to turn a very challenging and difficult year into a positive experience for all of our members,” Jennifer said. “Zac embraced the challenge while recognizing the real-life experiences that all of us were having during the pandemic.”
Zac has learned and applied what might be an interpretation of what exactly DECA offers its members – learning to not have fear of failure.
“As leaders or in competition, whatever it may be, it's very easy to think you don't have room to make mistakes and you feel like you need to be perfect all of the time,” he said. “Most of the time that's completely unnecessary because everyone makes mistakes and figuring out how you correct them and fix them is most important.”
Congratulations to Zac on his new leadership role in DECA!
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