Liam’s Leap Into Office


For the past few years, Mountain Ridge has been proud to send their very own dedicated DECA members to run and hold a DECA state officer position. Now, for the 5th year in a row, Ridge DECA will send another amazing student to represent our chapter: junior, Liam Nelson. 


Nelson has been a proud member of DECA for the past 3 years, and has had a phenomenal overall experience. Stepping onto the Ridge campus his freshman year posed as a challenge because many of his friends at his former school were dividing up onto other campuses. Despite this challenge, Nelson states that one of his favorite parts about being in DECA was the large group of students he was able to connect with. Within his first year, he not only managed to emmerce himself into a new group, but also take second place overall in their State conference. 


“Being able to learn, what I did through DECA, and professional experience, as well as making friends has definitely been a great experience for the past 3 years,” stated Nelson.


Nelson’s inspiration to run derived from Ridge’s history of sending students to represent in office and because of the passion he saw each candidate put into their campaign and into DECA overall.


“I would see them speak and they always spoke with passion and power and that was something that I wanted to do, in addition to helping connect Arizona DECA members together and try to introduce new programs,” Nelson states. 


Any junior member of DECA is free to run for an officer position. Applications are taken between October and December, and there is an interview process that follows in January. After campaigning at the State competition in February, the candidates are narrowed down and selected. There are 9 districts total, each given one officer to represent them. Other requirements for candidates include attending a few different conferences, maintaining a GPA minimum of 2.5. 


This year, Arizona brought in 10 students running. October 1st marked the beginning of  Nelson’s long journey with the application. It consisted of many generic questions including his address, his plans, his goals, experiences, and other formal information. Luckily, Nelson was able to make it past the application stage,and into the interview stage in January. He reflected that the interview part was more rigorous. This stage consisted of two interviews. One was in front of the former state officer team. They asked lots of personal questions, one after the other. Nelson stated that they were very serious, however the second interview was a little more laid back. This one was in front of all the advisors and chapter leaders the questions asked here were a little less personal.


The way that the process works is that the application and interview stages narrow the running members as the decision makers look heavily for professionalism and rather or not each candidate would be a good fit. Following this, campaigning and voting stages are what really solidify the next officers. The 10 people running this year is lower than previous years. In the past it has brought in around 14, even 17 running members. After advancing through the first two stages, the hard work takes off even more. The candidates get to really kick off their campaigns once arriving at State in February. They are required to give two speeches over the course of 2 days. The first speech is about 2 minutes long and the second is about a minute, each taking place in front of around 200 people. At the end of the speeches, candidates come together on stage and watch the audience vote on their phones. 


If a district has more than one member running, then the vote will be taken between them for that specific district. However, if a district does not send a member to run or only has someone running alone, those not selected for their own district could take the place of another. Nelson stated that because of this fact, the election moved around a lot this year. The votes are also taken by popularity, and the crowd will vote for the candidate they liked or remembered the most.


Lots of work went into Nelson’s campaign, and it was no easy task. He also had other projects keeping him occupied at the same time, which often caused stress and difficulty. However, Nelson reflects that the whole process was fun because of those who surrounded him and because of the end goal. 


“There wasn’t a lot of time to take a rest,” states Nelson. “But I think it was worth it in the end and it was fun while I was doing it, even if it was difficult and stressful.”


Lots of work went into the campaign. Nelson stated that his advisor, Ms. Moore was a huge help as well as the other members of the DECA program. For example, he credits Mr. English for helping him with his speeches.


“I definitely could not have done that without him [Mr. English],” Nelson reflected. “The speeches were great, and I believe that I did some stuff that people definitely did not expect, and stook out from the rest of the speeches. And so I think that was how I was able to secure a position on the team.”


Fliers, buttons, ribbons, and more flooded the process. Nelson credits friends like Jack Greger for helping him with his fliers and with other preparations. The DECA students were a major help to Nelson, as they were very passionate about promoting him. 


“It was a fun campaign overall. We had people yelling and shouting and chanting. They kind of stopped us because apparently that was against campaign rules,” Nelson stated with a smile.


After giving his second speech at State on election day, it was announced that he would be the officer of District 1, covering schools like Camelback and Metrotech High Schools. Even though he isn’t the representative for Ridge’s district, he is still a representative for our school. Within all the excitement, Nelson stated that it also felt a little weird after being chosen. 


“After I had worked for those several months to get that spot, and now I was there, it almost defied expectations,” Nelson said. “It almost defied expectations.”


Now as a state officer, Nelson’s roles include representing District 1 as well as Mountain Ridge’s DECA chapters, going to all sorts of conferences, making visits with each school within the district, giving presentations, connecting with members, being a public figure and just helping to bring everyone together and help things run more smoothly. 


“My main role as a representative is to represent the wants and opinions of my district constituents in District 1,” stated Nelson.


Nelson had a goal in mind from the very beginning: to connect DECA together. Nelson stated that he has 3 ways of hoping to achieve that goal. The first was through networking. This is a field that is extremely important to Nelson as it creates a bond between people. The next step was through having events between chapters. His goal here was to bring together a fewer number of districts in order to still create that network setting, but to also have fewer people to make the overall experience less chaotic than DECA’s main conferences. The final way he hoped to achieve his goal was by expanding and growing DECA’s social media platforms. 


“Most people use social media and so expanding our presence will get the reach to more people,” stated Nelson. “But also expanding it onto different platforms- being different from people- kind of accommodates a larger set of people.”


Nelson is looking forward to the officer camp that will be held in August in Prescott. Here the officers will receive training and a whole lot of fun. Other than that,Nelson looks forward to being able to meet with DECA members and advisors and aiding in the coordination of the program.


Coming up in June will be the choosing of the executive positions, president, vice president, and secretary at the SOLDI conference where DECA as well as other CTSOs will gather to choose their executive representatives. 


Liam’s achievement is extraordinary and the entire school is very proud to have him be the 5th candidate to represent our school and the overall DECA program for the state of Arizona. We wish him luck in his next year.