Jemison DECA sends students to international conference

Published 9:15 am Thursday, March 9, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

Jemison High School recognized the DECA Club at the school on March 8 to honor their accomplishments at the 2023 State Career Development Conference last month. Jemison had 24 students compete in different categories such as business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Twelve students placed and advanced to the International Career Development Conference, which will be held in Orlando, Florida in April.

Elizabeth Carden and Bailey Elliot placed first in the buying and merchandising team decision making category, and Camila Morales and Emiley Melchor placed first in the sales project categories.

“We are one of the most prominent (programs) in the state, not as far as size, but we are very competitive to other schools in the state,” Jemison DECA advisor Holly Porter said.

Brody Mazingo and Makiley Porter placed second in the integrated marketing plan event category, and Mason Roy and Rowdy Davison placed second in the entrepreneurship team decision making category. Mabrie Lawrence and Blair Woodley placed fourth in travel and tourism team decision making. Joshua Quesenberry in the human resources management series and Isreal Garcia in the quick serve restaurant management series also placed high enough to move on to the international competition.

Morales, a senior and the JHS DECA chapter president, has been in the club since her freshman year. She said Holly Porter has helped the club grow, and she is looking forward to meeting people from all around the world at the international competition.

“DECA to me is home,” Morales said. “I have known these people my whole life, and it means a lot that we are being represented in the international competition. We are really connected, and we really appreciate everyone’s help and support. I love that our chapter is getting recognized for all their hard work.”

Along with the individual awards, the JHS chapter as a whole won seven awards —diamond chapter, membership campaign-achievement level, community service campaign-international thrive level, promotional campaign, honor roll for chapter growth, state action plan and a muscular dystrophy association contributor.

Holly Porter has been the JHS DECA advisor for two years, and the year before Porter took over the club had 68 members. Last year, it grew to 114 members and this year to 134 members. That is the most members the club has had in the last 10 years, according to Holly Porter.

The state of Alabama has seen its DECA membership rise from 2,700 members last year to 4,800 members this year.

At the State Career Development Conference, Jemison had two students step into prominent roles within the state DECA leadership. Makiley Porter, the former District 4 vice president, was named the Alabama State DECA vice president. Makiley Porter, a junior, has been in the club for two years and said she was shy at first. However, after her first state conference she really enjoyed the club. Jemison DECA has traveled to New York City, New York; Salt Lake City, Utah; Atlanta, Georgia; Orlando, Florida and Washington D.C. within the last year.

“It was a great year, I had a lot of fun, got on a plane 12 times and I think I will run for vice president,” Makiley Porter said. “When I go to all of these international conferences I see how many people there are. For (Jemison) to take 21 people is a huge thing because a majority of the schools only take one or two students.”

Mazingo was named the new District 4 Vice President. Mazingo, also a junior, started DECA his sophomore year and will now represent a district that stretches from Chilton County to southwest Alabama to the Gulf Coast.

“I love District 4, and I love DECA, and I am looking forward to working with the people in District 4,” Mazingo said. “I hope to start this legacy in District 4 and across the state, and hopefully it will continue through others over and over again.”

“DECA is growing, and for us to have two of the six state officers, that is really amazing and it makes our chapter look good,” Holly Porter said. “It does set our school and our county apart at a higher level because we represent the state at the national level. It is very exciting.”

Holly Porter was named an outstanding state officer advisor as well at the state conference. Sara Hancock, the Alabama State DECA president from Hoover High School, spoke at the recognition on March 7. Hancock said Jemison is relatively new compared to other DECA chapters in Alabama, but she has seen them grow exponentially the last few years.

“I think it is important to visit everyone, but especially Jemison because it gives them more of a connection to the state,” Hancock said. “For me to be able to come out and talk to them is an honor for me, but also it gives me the ability to connect with them and you have that relationship the rest of the year. I love all of Jemison DECA, and it is amazing to come out here.”

Jemison will take 21 students overall to the ICDC in Orlando. It costs $1,100 per student to go to the conference, and Holly Porter is seeking sponsors to help the students offset the traveling costs. Any individual or business interested in becoming a sponsor for the Jemison DECA club can email Holly Porter at