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ricardo blog post 1
It was my junior year of highschool and I was anxiously seated in an auditorium with several hundred other DECA members. I was attending the 2023 Oklahoma DECA Career Development Conference as a running candidate for state office. I knew this moment would set a precedent for the rest of my highschool career, because I was waiting for them to announce the results of which candidates would be elected into office. At this moment, two widely different outcomes were possible. In one, I don’t get elected, and all of my hard work campaigning would be forgotten. In the other, I get the experience to fulfill my dream of becoming a state officer and representing Oklahoma DECA. Since you are reading this blog post, you can presume which outcome transpired – and I’m so glad it did.

My time as a state officer has been full of very memorable moments. One example is leading a workshop of over 100 people and speaking in front of nearly 2,000 at our Fall Leadership Conference. That is definitely something that I’ll never forget. Additionally, being able to learn from your other state officers and advisors is so valuable – I have truly learned so much in regards to leadership, organization (shoutout to Peighton for bestowing the knowledge of Google Calendars), and networking. Taking on the task of executive council yields many valuable opportunities for one to grow, which is something that for me occurred tenfold. 

Of course, there have been moments of struggle as well. I can never forget when I forgot to bring my official DECA polo at OK Summit and had to wear something different then the rest of the officers, or when I didn’t bring my purple DECA shirt to DECA camp and we weren’t able to coordinate (I guess I have a tendency of forgetting shirts?). But these experiences have allowed me to grow as a person and as a leader. Taking accountability for your mistakes and learning from them (not just experiencing them) is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned during my time in high school. So I’m so grateful for DECA and state office to give me this opportunity.

-Ricardo Charqueno