Nine seniors at Abraham Lincoln High School qualify for the 2021-22 Emerging Leader Award. The award is given to senior DECA members who have a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher and participate in certain activities.
DECA, or Distributive Education Clubs of America, is an association of students at both the high school and collegiate level who are interested in topics such as marketing, business, finance, hospitality and entrepreneurship. Schools around the US have their own DECA clubs.
Denise Magasich serves as both Lincoln’s DECA adviser and Philadelphia’s citywide DECA adviser. According to Magasich, the program gives students opportunities to build their resumes and keeps them motivated for the future.
“DECA students are coming to school, they’re engaged, they are interested in pursuing a career and many of them end up going to college and studying marketing or business,” Magasich said.
Aside from GPA requirements, students must participate in at least one relevant course, such as marketing, business management and administration, or finance, to be eligible for this award. They also must participate in at least three activities that fall into the following categories: community oriented, professionally responsible and experienced leader.
Evony Acosta is one of the seniors who meets all the requirements. She also serves as president of the club.
“DECA has helped me not only with my leadership skills but also my communication and public speaking. Thanks to the program I’ve sharpened these skills and I am way more confident than I used to be,” Acosta said.
That confidence is a result of service projects, leadership training, visits with industry professionals and other experiences that come with being a club member.
According to Magasich, DECA also runs competitions. Students are given challenges, or scenarios, based on their specific career interests. They are then tasked to come up with a solution or plan to present to a panel of judges.
“My job is to give the students real-world opportunities and opportunities for them to build their resume” Magasich said. “They’re forced into these uncomfortable situations but DECA makes everything fun.”
Magasich also mentions that the program allows for less financially fortunate students to get ahead. She said some of her students used to do homework at Dunkin’ Donuts for the free and reliable Wi-Fi. Now, AT&T has partnered with her club to provide members with their own Wi-Fi hotspots.
“My students are just as bright as any students anywhere but because of their social status, it puts a disadvantage on them and that’s unfortunate. That should never be,” Magasich said.
The eligible seniors will officially receive their awards early this year.
“This award means a lot to me because it demonstrates that my commitment and hard work have paid off throughout the years.” Acosta said.
“This award is a representation of my growth throughout high school and I am very grateful to even be considered for it.”
The students are Vicky Zhang, Peter Zhang, Kaylee Sierra, Evony Acosta, Yully Hou Feng, Techie Zhu, Ahn Nygen, Rachel Wu and Amaan Syed.