Local high school freshman, Mitchell Woolley, is making our city proud by qualifying for a national high school marketing conference. Woolley is a member of Flat Rock High School’s local chapter of Distributive Education Clubs of America, or DECA, which teaches high school students about marketing, business management and administration, hospitality and tourism, and finance.
DECA is a national organization for business and marketing students in high school and college. There are over 5,000 high school chapters in the United States. Before students can even attend a conference, they must take a comprehensive exam in their focus area. At the conference, students are required to role-play with a judge in a situation relating to their area. Woolley’s focus is hospitality and tourism, which involves scenarios in the hotel, restaurant, and tourism industry.
In January, Woolley attended the district conference with his chapter at Eastern Michigan University. There, he medaled for his high scores on the exam and in the role-play. He went on to medal at the State Career Development Conference in Grand Rapids, which qualifies him to go to nationals.
“Qualifying for nationals was awesome. I was so excited and I couldn’t believe I actually did it”, Woolley said.
His scenarios at the state conference involved a hotel chain looking to expand a line of rooms that were handicapped-accessible and a five-star restaurant chain experiencing high employee turnover. Using his hospitality and tourism knowledge, he correctly explained the concepts that would help the hotel with safety regulations and allow the restaurant to retain its employees. He said that the situations helped him open his mind to all possible solutions.
“They made me nervous but I feel like I was able to come up with good responses and points to each concept.”
Hopefully, Woolley will do just as well at the International Career Development Conference in Anaheim, California at the end of April. If he wins, he could receive his share of the $300,000 in scholarship money that DECA awards annually.
Woolley first became interested in hospitality and tourism when he joined Ms. Amy Sulewski’s marketing class. When Sulewski decided to start a DECA chapter, Woolley decided to join because, “it sounded intriguing and I thought it would be a good experience.”
Woolley believes that Flat Rock’s small school community has benefitted him. In his opinion, this is because it “allows for more direct help and feedback from others.” But he also believes that the dedication of Sulewski is a main component in the chapter’s success.
With only a year of involvement, Woolley says DECA has already informed his career path.
“DECA has affected my future job plans because I have an interest in the business and marketing area that I didn’t have previously.”
But DECA has done more than just point him in one professional direction. Woolley believes his involvement has helped him learn “better organizational skills” and has taught him “what it takes to be successful in the business world.”
When not participating in DECA, Woolley is active in sports. He is on the school soccer team, as well as both fall and spring track teams. When asked about his future with DECA, Woolley responded, “I will for sure continue participating in DECA throughout high school.”