It's January. It's uncomfortably cold outside. And inside the walls of the Richard & Louise Scholl Student Center, a Marquette team is fine-tuning its preparation for a state competition in Indianapolis. It all sounds very familiar but it's probably not the Blazers you're thinking of.
Business teacher Colleen Meyer opened a maze of pathways for students when she chartered the Marquette chapter of Indiana Distributive Educational Clubs of America (DECA).
"I was looking for an opportunity for students to put to use the skills they were learning inside the classroom. Not only are they learning business, but how to clearly communicate, think on their feet, and conduct themselves in a professional manner," Meyer said.
The i's were dotted and t's crossed just days before district competition making last Saturday's meet at Valparaiso a true baptism by fire.
The five MQTT-U students who represented Marquette at the DECA competition did more than just A-OK: four qualified for the state competition.
Competitors underwent a 100-question test in the content area of their choice. The written test was followed by a role-play exercise that put students' preparation and knowledge on full display.
Junior Aidan Bartnicki took home first-place honors in the accounting portion. Juniors Adam Burroughs and Abigail Ryan garnered third place as an entrepreneurship team. Sophomore Yasmir Young scored fifth place in entrepreneurship, and sophomore Ava Zientarski placed seventh in hotel lodging and management.
Considering the majority of Marquette's competition in the 200-student field had been preparing for this tournament since September, the results are that much more impressive.
Saturday's achievements are one of the first tangible benchmarks of success for MQTT-U, Marquette's early-college program. Bartnicki, Burroughs, and Ryan are part of the inaugural class while Young and Zientarski represent members of the second faction.
"I'm incredibly proud of the students who participated and placed in the DECA competition. I believe the outcome speaks to the depth of our business curriculum, the professionalism and experience of our faculty, and the ambition of these students to compete in such a challenging event," academic advisor and MQTT-U learning coach Tracy Wagner said.
Within that business curriculum, the five Marquette DECA representatives have completed or are enrolled in financial accounting, macroeconomics, microeconomics, managerial accounting, integrated Microsoft applications, microcomputers, principles of management, and introduction to business. And that's in addition to their more traditional English, mathematics, science, and theology courses.
In addition to Meyer, former Vienna Beef chief financial officer Bill Luegers comprises the Marquette business faculty.
Meyer, who is elated by her students' success thus far, knows there is still work to be done. The state competition, which is slated for March 1st-3rd inside the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, awaits Bartnicki, Burroughs, Ryan, and Young.
Whatever results come in Indy, this quintet, along with Meyer, has laid a foundation rife for future Marquette business students.
"DECA is a great program. It gives kids so many important skills," she said.