By Ashley Hocking
Junior Emily Murphy spends her weekends memorizing flashcard terms and simulating professional scenarios in hotel rooms with fellow business-savvy members of Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) at career-development competitions.
Her hard work has not gone to waste. Murphy will be the sole representative from Lawrence High at the national competition in Atlanta this weekend.
“They only take the top three students [from state] in each event, and Emily came in second overall for Food Marketing,” DECA sponsor Lisa Burns said. “[It] is the highlight of the DECA year. Several thousand students will be in attendance from the United States and Canada.”
Upon hearing the news, the first thing Murphy did was inform her mother, Lynn Murphy.
“She texted me late at night to tell me she qualified for the national competition,” Lynn Murphy said. “I knew she was a smart girl, but didn’t realize she had such strong business sense.”
Though Murphy wishes she could share the experience with fellow club members, she is eager to spend the weekend in Georgia with Burns.
“I think it will be fun because Ms. Burns is actually a really cool person,” Murphy said. “We have a lot of really good conversations. She’s really easy to talk to, and she has a lot of good life advice.”
Murphy was initially inspired to join the club after taking a business class last year.
“Business is something I’m interested in going into in college, so I decided to try it,” Murphy said.
This year, Murphy has thrived in job simulations at DECA competitions during which participants complete a 100 question multiple choice business test, two role-playing events relative to their occupational area and an interview with a business executive.
Role-playing scenarios are conducive to the fields of sales, distribution, marketing research, product development, management, human resources, ethics, promotion, pricing and communications.
“Basically, the competitors are given a description of a specific situation that measures their knowledge of food marketing and marketing management,” Burns said. “They usually play the role of a manager and the judge plays the role of their boss or a customer. After they receive their scenario, they only have 10 minutes to prepare before going before the judge. Competitors have to have a good general knowledge of marketing, the event subject and the ability to think on their feet.”
After excelling at the regional and state level, Murphy secured her spot at the rigorous national competition that will take place on May 4-5.
“We’ll have to do basically the same thing that we did at regionals and state, just on a harder level,” Murphy said. “There will probably be a lot more people and competition. It’ll be more professional overall.”
Burns has high expectations for Murphy not only at the national competition, but also in her future business endeavors.
“I think Emily has all the skills to be an exceptional business professional no matter what field she chooses,” Burns said. “Emily is a conscientious student. She is great at quickly drawing on her knowledge and applying it in a variety of situations.”
Emily’s mother also predicts a bright future for Murphy in the business world.
“Emily’s participation in DECA has taught her professionalism and has helped her develop a different level of confidence in an area she hopes to pursue in her future,” Lynn Murphy said. “I see her as a professional woman who finds a way to incorporate her interests as well as enjoyment in her business endeavors.”
Murphy currently plans to double major in business and food science at Kansas State University in hopes of one day opening her own bakery.
“K-State has a bakery science program and a really good business school, so it’d be the perfect double major for me,” Murphy said. “They have a lot of internships that they offer with Pillsbury and Nestle. It’s pretty exciting.”