When Vanessa Glowczewski was shopping around for a co-curricular club to join as a Grade 9 student at Bayview Glen School (BVG), she landed on one that piqued her interest almost instantly. Three years later, she has honed her skills in that discipline to be among the best in the province at her age.
“I was overjoyed that my genuine interest in entrepreneurship and focused preparation
translated into a Top 3 finish,” says Vanessa, on her recent success at the 44th Ontario DECA provincials. “There were so many strong competitors this year, and I am incredibly grateful that I will get to compete at the International Career Development Conference (ICDC).”
She will be representing BVG and Ontario DECA at the ICDC taking place April 22-25, 2023, in Orlando, Florida.
“Any time we have someone from BVG who is able to represent the school on such a large stage, it is truly a special accomplishment,” says Cameron Stott, Business Studies, Canadian and World Studies teacher at BVG and one of the faculty moderators of the DECA club. “Vanessa will be competing against the best of the best from across all of the DECA chapters globally. To even be ranked amongst some of the most impressive young people for your category is a remarkable feat!”
Founded more than 75 years ago, DECA is the acronym for Distributive Education Clubs of America. It began as a club opportunity for high school students who have taken business, marketing, and finance-related courses. As the organization has continued to evolve, it has retained the acronym as its name while expanding its mission to include interested college and university students from around the world.
“DECA is an organization that allows students to explore various aspects of the business world while learning valuable leadership and communication skills,” continues Vanessa, a Grade 11 student at BVG. “Students compete in case study events belonging to one of five clusters: Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Finance, Hospitality, and Management. The case study format allows students to tackle real-life problems and encourages them to come up with innovative solutions,” she says.
For Mr. Stott, who has been involved with the BVG DECA team for four years and served in an advisory capacity at previous schools for a decade, the lessons learned through DECA stretch far and wide. “The ability to think quickly — students have as little as 10 minutes to read and prepare a presentation on the spot,” he says.
Vanessa’s first exposure to a DECA competition back in 2020 was entirely online due to COVID-19. The 2023 Provincials featured in-person interactions with students, educators and other professionals from across the province. More than 6,000 students took part in the three-day competition, including a 63-member team from Bayview Glen. Several other BVG team members finished in the Top 20, Top 15 and Top 10 during the event.
“Matthew Wong placed Top 10 overall in his category, and perhaps as impressively, earned a perfect score on one of his case study presentations,” continues Mr. Stott. “Our team’s overall performance was very good as DECA Ontario was sanctioned last year, resulting in a lost one year of practice at the competitive level. This was also many of our membership’s first in-person regional and provincial events since the pandemic.”
All of which made preparation for this competition even more critical.
“The BVG DECA chapter offered weekly prep sessions for Provincials in early January, giving students one full month to practice for the competition,” says Vanessa. “During these prep sessions, students learned how to approach the case studies and practiced presenting in front of a mock judge, followed by constructive feedback.”
A BVG student since JK, Vanessa says she has had many public speaking and student leadership opportunities during her time at Bayview Glen.
“These experiences helped me gain valuable skills for DECA, such as critical thinking, initiative, and effective communication,” she says. “Our BVG DECA teachers, Ms. [Alison] Rowland and Mr. Stott, are incredibly supportive. Their guidance has undoubtedly played a vital role in this year’s highly successful BVG DECA chapter performance.”
Adds Mr. Stott, “the Problem-Based Learning approach that Career Studies uses is very entrepreneurial in scope. We frame our Introduction to Business course through an entrepreneurial lens and always have students thinking and applying the broader concepts from the course through an entrepreneurial lens.”
For Vanessa, the DECA experience has also helped her consider future aspirations, with more clarity.
“I am interested in a career in engineering, specifically industrial engineering because it has broad business applications,” she says. “A career in engineering will give me a solid technical foundation while bolstering my creative thinking and problem-solving skills that can be applied in the real world. My ultimate goal is to combine the scientific knowledge from engineering into a meaningful and exciting business venture.”
A co-curricular experience focused on an entrepreneurial mindset for a potential engineer
— a successful formula, indeed.
Learn more about co-curricular clubs and activities at Bayview Glen School