MSUM business administration student Gage Donovan was recently elected the 2020-2021 International Collegiate DECA President. DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe. Donovan is incredibly honored to have this leadership role and looks forward to all of the good that he can do within this position.

Q: What’s your background and experience with DECA?
A: I have been involved with DECA since my sophomore year in high school. As a first-year student at MSUM, I immediately joined the Collegiate DECA chapter and felt the family-oriented, student-led atmosphere that I loved. I was inspired to run for Minnesota Collegiate DECA State Officer at the end of my first year in college. That decision turned out to be the most rewarding experience of my life; I unlocked a new level of leadership and growth that I never could have imagined. Along with being a State Officer this past year I was also MSUM’s Collegiate DECA chapters’ Vice President where I was able to lead and assist on making this the greatest year in MSUM’s history!

Q: What are the highlights of MSUM’s DECA group?
A: This past year at the State Career Development Conference in Alexandria, Minn., every single member of MSUM DECA qualified for the International Career Development Conference (ICDC) in Atlanta, Ga. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 ICDC was canceled this year, but myself along with the other chapter officers are so incredibly proud of each and every member for their hard work and dedication this year. All of the MSUM DECA members, officers, and advisors are committed to making the most of their college and DECA experience. MSUM DECA participates in a variety of competitions, networking events, and community service projects. As the winner of the 2019-2020 MSUM organization of the year award, MSUM DECA is a guiding organization on campus and in the community.

Q: Give us some insight on the process of obtaining your new role as president.
A: The election process began back in December when I officially decided that I wanted to run for Executive President. The next steps of the process included obtaining board approval from the Minnesota Collegiate DECA board and taking a test about DECA knowledge that I needed to pass in order to continue my campaign. After that, I had to fill out the application and submit all required materials. During a typical election year all of the candidates would be at ICDC where they would have a screening committee interview and a live question and answer session then they would begin campaigning and caucusing with members. This year, about a month and a half before ICDC, we were informed it had been canceled due to COVID-19. This meant large changes to the election and campaign process. Everything was now set to be virtual; the nominating committee interview was conducted via Zoom as well as the question and answer session, which was recorded for the voting delegates to watch. Once all of the candidates were made official there was information about each candidate put onto the DECA website for the delegates to view along with the candidates being allowed to campaign. I mainly campaigned through social media and specifically YouTube videos! After a couple of days of campaigning the delegates voted and within days, the results were official. I am honored to have been elected President and I am so happy for all of the wonderful people I will be working will on the Executive Officer team!

Q: What specific things do you hope to accomplish or are looking forward to with your new position as DECA’s Collegiate President?
A: I will work with the rest of the Executive Officer team to compile a Program of Leadership in which we will set forth our official team goals for the upcoming DECA year. I very much so look forward to working with all of them and being able to make this the best Collegiate DECA year for all of the members across the globe.

Q: How has your experience in DECA over the years impacted you professionally and personally?
A: DECA has given me access to make remarkable connections with other members, business professionals, and people around the world. These connections have opened so many doors for me and led to numerous opportunities that I never thought possible. If anyone knows me on a personal level, they would say that I have always been a confident person, but DECA has afforded me the chance to take that confidence to a new level in areas such as public speaking and talking to high profile individuals. DECA has also given me some of the greatest lifetime friends that I could ever ask for!

Q: Is there a faculty member or mentor in your life who has helped you obtain this role and how have they contributed to your success?
A: MSUM DECA advisor, Minnesota Collegiate DECA board member, and accounting professor Lori Johnson has had a tremendous impact on my DECA experience. She has always shown the utmost support for me in all of my DECA endeavors including running for state office as a first-year college student. Without her support, I do not know if I would have chosen to run for this new position, and I certainly would not have felt the immense amount of confidence behind me while running. There was never a doubt in my mind that no matter the results of the election she would be proud of me. I am sure that you will be reading this Lori, so thank you.

This story is being featured as part of #GivingTuesdayNow. You can give to support MSU Moorhead programs and scholarships at www.mnstate.edu/givingday.