Business club finds its way into the limelight

The Business Professionals of America (BPA) club will compete at the state competition in March after all six of its members successfully advanced past the regional stage in January.

The state competition will take place March 5-8 in Houston. This is the second consecutive year that members of the club are heading to state. The goal for this particular squad is to qualify for the coveted national competition in Indianapolis from April 30-May 3. Despite the large pool of contestants in the state competition, BPA sponsor Ellery Smith said he is confident in his small group’s ability to succeed.

“We only have six students, and all six students are heading to state,” Smith said. “I kind of like our odds. Once you get to the state level, it’s mano a mano. It’s not about which team has the largest number of members. The two kids that got to go to state last year are seniors, so this is their last go-around. I think they have that quench to go one step further to nationals.”

The six members representing the school will partake in numerous events, including prepared speech, financial research, economic research, website design, accounting, computerized accounting, payroll accounting, banking and finance and keyboarding production.

“Kids get the opportunity to have a business-like environment at these competitions,” Smith said. “The students are required to wear a suit, jacket and tie at the competition and the ladies have to wear a dress or a business suit with heels to get them in the environment of interacting on a business level. It’s great exposure.”

Senior co-president Shazir Mucklai has an enthusiastic perspective on the March competition.

“BPA is the best time of my life,” Mucklai said. “The four hour drive, the stopover at Buc-ee’s, and staying at a hotel in Houston.”

While a contestant’s free time in Houston can be care-free and explorative, the actual competition is demanding, according to Smith.

“Sometimes there are … minute details that are the difference between advancing and not advancing,” Smith said. “There is a very small margin for error, especially when it comes to some of the point categories in the group projects.”

While the competition itself gets all the attention, Smith believes that social interaction is a significant part of the experience.

“The social aspect of the state competition, I think, is … very important because the kids get to make new friends,” Smith said. “I love kids to get involved in academics, but I think it’s just as important for them to have a social life. I’m a firm believer that’s it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, so it just gives them some avenues to meet different people.”

Mucklai said he is content with how the club has helped him toward college and beyond.

“BPA has allowed me to create a lifetime of memories for myself within these two years,” said Mucklai. “It has helped me with a bunch of things, from the interviewing skills to the networking abilities that I have today. I have made amazing friends and hopefully will create amazing legacies.”

Even with the team’s success at the regional showcase, Smith said that future BPA competition teams could be even better with a little bit of help.

“Our group is more focused on the business categories,” Smith said. “I would love to get some of the career center students involved where they could do some of the graphics and create a website design team. That’s the goal: to get it well known around the campus. Maybe even get the membership up to the DECA level since we only have six active members in BPA right now.”