Zahraa Asfar, a ninth grader at Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy (MGLVA), recently competed in the 2023 DECA International Career Development Conference (ICDC) in Orlando, Florida.
Zahraa advanced to ICDC as a state representative after her tremendous success at the Michigan DECA State Career Development Conference, where she earned two medals and was named a finalist. Zahraa received both medals in the Entrepreneurship Series which included a comprehensive exam as well as a judged event in which she needed to provide a business solution for two role-play activities.
To prepare for ICDC, Zahraa worked closely with her mentor, Mr. Koresky, and her coach, Mrs. Kulongowski, practicing role-play activities on Zoom and self-testing with exam samples. At the international event, she competed against 250 students in the Entrepreneurship Series, and she took on each challenge—an exam and two role-play activities—with great enthusiasm. Although she was not named a finalist this time around, she kept a positive attitude and cheered on her fellow Michiganders, many of whom made it to the big stage.
Zahraa and her classmates also participated in DECA’s fundraising event benefiting the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. The team secured first place nationally by raising more than $8,000, surpassing their original goal of $1,433. The proceeds will be used by hospitals across the nation to fund pediatric cancer clinical trials with the hope that they lead to medical advancements that will help save children’s lives.
Zahraa is thrilled to have met and competed with students from across the country and around the globe, including students from Puerto Rico, Spain, Cambodia, Turkey, South Korea, and more. She also exchanged pins with students from Oklahoma and Hawaii, whom she got to know during their stay in Orlando.
Overall, Zahraa is grateful for all the opportunities DECA provided in just one year. The student-centered program helps students gain valuable skills in a variety of core business areas, including marketing, finance, hospitality, and more. Through DECA, students can demonstrate these skills at district, state, and international competitions throughout the year.
In addition to her involvement with DECA, Zahraa has played an instrumental role in establishing, organizing, and leading a Lead4Change program at MGLVA called “Enhance.” The student-led program aims to enhance the living conditions of more than 5,000 Michiganders in the Detroit metropolitan area who are battling food insecurity or homelessness or are in the foster care system. Through various campaigns, Zahraa and her fellow classmates have raised funds and collected donations for non-profit organizations, including Gleaners Community Food Bank, Ennis Center for Children, and Samaritas.