Business Student Helps GCU’s DECA Chapter Break Through

May 10, 2012 / by / 0 Comment

By Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau 

Austin Garrett resembles an Olympic athlete with a fistful of medals draped around his neck, and no one’s more surprised than he is. 

Garrett, 21, was one of seven GCU students to compete at the recent International Career Development Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. The annual conference is sponsored by DECA, an organization whose mission is to prepare students for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. 

GCU's DECA team (from left): Albert Ciccone, Samara Carlon, Marissa Mabley, Austin Garrett, Avis Rojas and adviser Stacy Garrett. Not pictured: Christian Ibanez and Kirby Kwok.

Until recently, GCU didn’t have a DECA chapter — and Garrett didn’t know what DECA was. (The acronym formerly stood for Distributive Education Clubs of America, but now the organization is known only by DECA.) 

The conference, he says, is “like the World Series for business students.” 

If that’s the case, then the rookie Garrett pitched a no-hitter in Game 7. Going up against a field of 50 seasoned competitors from colleges and universities across North America, he won the retail-management category. Most of his score was based on a case-study analysis that he wasn’t given much time to turn around. 

“Things I’ve learned at GCU really applied to this and were big keys,” he says. “I used the professionalism I’ve been taught. This (award) speaks well of our business school.” 

Garrett says he had hoped only to be among the 15 finalists in the retail competition. Also representing GCU were Samara Carlon and Avis Rojas (business ethics) and Albert Ciccone, Marissa Mabley, Christian Ibanez and Kirby Kwok (sports marketing). Rojas is president of GCU’s DECA chapter. 

“There were kids who had done DECA in high school and college,” Garrett says of what the GCU contingent faced, “but our chapter is developing really well.” 

The conference also was attended by a number of major corporations, who were actively recruiting from the 1,600 students in attendance. 

“There were (career) opportunities galore,” Garrett says. “Something like this can put you to the front of the list.” 

Garrett, who attended Estrella Mountain Community College before transferring to GCU, says he’s focused for now on earning a dual master’s in business administration and leadership. He’s taking 24 credits this summer to wrap up his bachelor’s degree from the Ken Blanchard College of Business.

This past school year, he served as president of the IDEA Club, which encourages entrepreneurial endeavors and sponsored the inaugural Canyon Challenge competition in the spring.

Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or

About the Author
Leave a Comment