GCU student wins international DECA competition

By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau

As you connect the dots of Noah Schultz’s life journey the last few years, this much becomes clear: Things sure have a way of falling into place for him.

Noah Schultz (left) and co-advisor Dr. Kelly Damron show off Schultz's first-place trophy at the DECA competition.

The Grand Canyon University freshman’s latest intersection of fate and skill was the recent International Career Development Conference (ICDC) in Orlando, Fla., where he took first place in the Financial Accounting competition. The event, which drew representatives from 76 colleges in the United States and Canada, is sponsored by DECA, the premier business leadership organization.

“I was not expecting it,” he said, “but I’m thrilled. It was a stellar way to end the year.”

It also seems to be a trend. Check out these stellar coincidences:

The Oak Creek, Wis., resident joined DECA as a sophomore in high school because he was interested in marketing … but then he wasn’t interested in marketing.

Now he’s a finance and economics major with a minor in accounting. Good decision.

He went to a college fair during his senior year and just happened upon the Grand Canyon University table … and decided to go on a Discover GCU trip because it was free and it would get him away from winter’s chill for a few days.

Seeing the campus was love at first sight, and he knew right away that GCU was the place for him – another decision that worked out. Now he feels spoiled by the warm Phoenix weather, so much so that temperatures in the 70s feel a little chilly.

When he arrived last fall, he didn’t even know that GCU has a Collegiate DECA chapter, a competitive business and social club that helps students build career skills and get involved in the community, until he went to a club fair. Again, he counted his blessings and signed up – yet another good decision.

Schultz was one of six GCU representatives at the ICDC and one of five who finished in the Top 10. He also teamed with Sabrina Cross to make the Top 10 in Entrepreneurship Challenge.

The GCU team had three other Top 10 finishers besides Schultz, and Damron and co-advisor Marnie Davis also won awards.

GCU’s other Top 10 finishers were Cross in Advertising Campaign, Natalie Vittitow and Myah Vinther in Entrepreneurship Challenge, and Francisco “Cisco” Ortiz y Davis in Professional Sales.

It was the GCU chapter’s best finish since 2016, when it also had a first-place winner (Maya Hinojos) and three second-place finishers.

“We are proud of all that our small group of students has achieved,” said Dr. Kelly Damron, one of the Collegiate DECA co-advisors. “We are a competitive group, and it shows in our consistent results. With multiple first-place and Top 10 finalists over the past four years, we are one of the premier DECA organizations in Arizona.”

Damron and the other co-advisor, Marnie Davis, also were recognized for awards they received in February. Damron was named Collegiate DECA Administrator of the Year, and Davis was one of six people named Collegiate DECA Advisors of the Year.

“So proud of our team and how they competed at a national level!” said Dr. Randy Gibb, Dean of the Colangelo College of Business. “Kelly and Marnie Davis have done an outstanding job this past year working with our students and promoting the club to attract such strong, competitive students. CCOB is excited to grow our Collegiate DECA team and see Noah defend his title.”

Schultz, wearing or holding his many awards, called it "a stellar way to end the year."

The ICDC is a competitive event in which students first complete a multiple-choice exam, which counts for 33% of their score. The other 67% involves reading a case study, taking 30 minutes to prepare a response and then presenting it to the judges, who pretend to be their bosses.

The first day of case studies determines who advances to the finals, and the second day separates the top three finishers from the rest.

Schultz’s top-five score in the exam was a huge factor, as was the PowerPoint he prepared for his presentations. “They liked that,” he said.

He’s looking forward to continuing his DECA involvement in the 2019-20 academic year along with Vittitow, who will be president, and Vinther, the incoming vice president.

Cisco Davis is a graduate student and a high school advisor, and Cross graduated last month with her degree in Business Management after being a member of Collegiate DECA for four years and an officer for two.

Schultz isn’t done making good decisions – he is focused on graduating from GCU in three years. But he certainly plans to enjoy the time – and weather – he has left.

“I’m pretty confident I made the right college choice,” he said … decisively.

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].


Related content:

GCU Today: Business students score points in DECA competition

GCU Today: Damron helps students pass 'Go," collect knowledge


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