Originally published by The Manistee News Advocate – January 21, 2019
MANISTEE — Bergen Johnson is only in ninth grade, but she can already make a sales pitch that would give a business professional a run for their money.
An Onekama native and student at Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy (MGLVA), Johnson recently competed in the district DECA competition and will move on to the state finals.
This was the first year she participated in DECA, a student-centered organization that promotes marketing, finance, hospitality and management education at the high school and collegiate level. Members can participate in competitive events that help further develop their business skills.
When Johnson first heard about DECA through her Career Technical Education (CTE) program, she knew she wanted to join.
“They had a couple of clubs you could join. DECA was one of them, and it’s for the business-oriented people, but there was also HOSA which is more for healthcare,” she said. “I chose DECA because I love the business field.”
Not only was this the first year Johnson participated, she helped start the DECA chapter at MGLVA.
“I was the first one to join, and I advertised it in all my classes, and then more people started coming and we got a chapter going,” she explained.
The district competition was held on Jan. 8 at Ferris State University. She was one of two DECA members from MGLVA who competed at the district level.
“Some schools had busloads of kids, and we had just two people,” said her mother, Cathy Johnson. “Her principal also went and so did her teacher from the CTE program. They were so excited.”
Although this was her first competition, Bergen was right in her element.
“You get there, and there’s just a ton of kids all in the same age range and they all had the same mindset,” she said. “They are all business-oriented and wanting to start their own companies or work at these big firms all over the world.”
For the competition, Johnson specialized in professional selling under the marketing category. Competitors were given a scenario that they had to develop, with progress indicators provided by the judges. She also had to take a 100 question field-specific cluster exam.
“I had to present two product ideas, one was rechargeable backpacks where you could charge your phone,” she said. “I also did a more trendy one with phone cases, tablet cases and computer cases that are within the Generation Z price range.”
When it came time for the awards ceremony, competitors could be awarded one of three medals.
“The first is for how well you did in your role play scenario, and one is how you did on the test,” she explained. “The last one awarded is the state medal, which means you move on to the next competition.”
Johnson said she wasn’t sure she would be called up at all because it was only her first year. But, sure enough, her name was called.
“I didn’t get either of the first two medals, and I was so thankful because it meant I for sure got the state medal,” she said. “Not everyone gets to go to state, so I was beyond happy.”
Johnson’s teammate, who competed in the entrepreneurship category, will also move on to state.
“That means we have a 100 percent state acceptance rate so far,” she said with a laugh.
The state competition will take place March 8 through 10 in Detroit.
No matter what the placings are at the state conference, Johnson has big plans for the future.
“I want to get my bachelor’s in business administration, with an emphasis in marketing,” she said. “I also want to continue to do DECA in college. It’s just one of those things, some people are interested in sports but I’m interested in business.”
For more information on Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy, visit https://mglva.k12.com/