DECA and VEI: A Solid Return on Investment
Michaela Sardinas '19

Students have the opportunity to gain real-world business experience through DECA and VEI.

Timothy’s virtual business — CORE, INC. — leases cars to virtual employees. And the business is completely student run — from accounting and marketing, to sales and human resources. 

CORE, INC. is part of VEI, or Virtual Enterprise International, a business class offered to juniors and seniors. Timothy is the only private school in the Midwest that participates in VEI. 

“VEI is professional development,” says Mrs. Kendra Lee, the High School Director of Teaching and Learning, DECA Advisor, and the Illinois VEI Coordinator. “VEI helps students understand what it’s like to run a business.” 

The curriculum focuses on gaining real-world experience. In fact, students have the opportunity to attend a leadership conference, business competitions, and tradeshows. 

At the tradeshow, Timothy students join over 1,000 other students to buy and sell products or services. There are a variety of competitions at the tradeshow, which allow students to compete in categories such as Impact Marketing, Marketing Materials, and Elevator Pitch.

Developing future Christian business leaders is central to all business classes. Offering students the opportunity to explore different business opportunities also helps students find their niche.

These students have an edge over other potential future employees.

Four years ago, Mrs. Lee introduced Distributive Education Clubs of America, or DECA, a business club that is open to freshmen through seniors. She’s been involved with DECA for twenty years and is currently serving as the Regional Vice President of Training. “DECA is such an amazing program to develop students,” she says. “There are no requirements to be in DECA except have an interest in business.” 

About 80 schools in Illinois have DECA programs, though Timothy is one of only three other private schools to offer the club. Timothy’s DECA program has grown over the years, and 20 students now meet regularly after school to prepare for competitions. DECA members also attend a leadership conference, regional, state, and national competitions, and even a sports entertainment marketing seminar at the United Center.

While the students thrive in competition, it is the sports entertainment marketing seminar, Mrs. Lee observes, that Timothy’s DECA members enjoy the most. They attend a Bulls game and talk with team employees about their careers in marketing and sports entertainment.

In only four years, DECA has achieved some noteworthy accomplishments: 16 members have gone to Regional Competition and 11 students qualified for State this year. Three members placed top at State.

Mrs. Lee encourages all students to take advantage of DECA and VEI because these programs teach lifelong leadership and networking skills, and help students become more confident. 

“Both DECA and VEI are international organizations so they are recognizable by many businesses,” says Mrs. Lee. “These students have an edge over other potential future employees, because employers are aware of the value and skills that are developed through DECA and VEI.” 

Success in DECA and VEI Grows Joey Snella’s Business Résumé

Joey Snella is a Chief Marketing Officer. And he’s only a senior. 

From early morning to late night prep sessions for DECA and VEI events, Joey Snella has a growing business résumé in marketing communications.

Joey joined DECA in his first year of high school. “I wanted to join DECA my freshman year, because I didn’t know if I wanted to join the business world,” Joey explains. 

And he’s been quite successful. 

Joey qualified for State his freshman year. Not only did he gain real-world business experience, but he bonded with his senior peers whom he looked up to. He went to Regionals four times and State three times. 

He headed to State again his senior year, joining 2,000 of his fellow competitors. This time though, he was mentoring the younger DECA members. 

The mix of spending time with members and competing against other teams has helped him narrow down his career choices. “It challenges you to think on your feet every time, because you don’t know anything about the scenario before you walk in the room,” explains Joey. “You have ten minutes to write down everything you can to come up with a whole plan.” Role-playing scenarios allows members to practice public speaking in front of others, the creative thinking part is his favorite.

DECA helped Joey see the business world differently. “It shows you different ways to look at what you’re interested in,” Joey says. “DECA changed how I look at business.”

Joey was able to learn even more about the business field by joining VEI as a senior and taking the role of Chief Marketing Officer.

Joey hopes to pursue marketing during his college career. “I want to do it because every business needs marketing help or some way to market their products and I want to be part of that,” Joey explains.

Joey will attend Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the fall. 

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