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Suited up & ready for business

Students nab awards in competition

Wyoming  — When sophomore D’Leeth Gayot-Ramirez joined the Wyoming High School chapter of Business Professionals of America, she challenged herself by competing in the category of Presentation. 

“I am very shy and quiet, and when we had presentations for school projects I was never good at it. I decided to step out of my comfort zone and present,” said D’Leeth, who won first place at the recent regional BPA competition at Davenport University for her presentation on studying abroad for American college students. 

She created a presentation including facts on the study-abroad process, costs and financial resources, and delivered her speech in front of judges, providing brochures to complement her information. She plans to refine her presentation for the state competition in March at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. 

The 20-member Wyoming chapter of Business Professionals of America recently had a strong showing at the regional competition (courtesy)

“I was very excited when presenting, because I really like my topic this year,” she said. “When I was researching my topic I decided studying abroad is something I may want to do when I am in college.”

Wyoming High School students are covering the spectrum of skill development as they eye careers in the wide world of business, from office worker to business owner to executive. In BPA, they choose from dozens of categories in which to compete, in the areas of finance, business administration, management information systems, digital communication and design, management, marketing and communication, and health administration.

These skills they are learning in competitions from banking, payroll, or finance to interview skills are all things that are real-world applicable.’

— Wyoming High School business teacher Jon Bushen

Ready for the Board Room

Wyoming students nabbed medals at regionals in payroll accounting, interviewing skills, video production, management, entrepreneurship, digital media, integrated office skills and several others. Of 20 students who competed, 17 qualified out of 332 students from 14 schools who competed for the state championship.

From left, seniors Kaylee Adamari Guarcas Mendoza and Lesly Vasquez (courtesy)

The Wyoming chapter always has a good showing in BPA, an organization started in 1966 in which students come prepared, polished and dressed to the nines in suit coats, dress shoes and ties. They stand poised while presenting, shake hands firmly, speak clearly during interviews and compute with precision during accounting and math tests.

“The biggest thing I see for the students is that we are trying to get them prepared for what’s next,” said business teacher Jon Bushen, who has advised the team for the past 18 years. “These skills they are learning in competitions, from banking, payroll, or finance to interview skills, are all things that are real-world applicable.”

Students meet biweekly as a team, but much of the time is spent on their own researching, planning and collaborating. 

“It’s practice, it’s prep and it’s getting ready for what it might look like in the real world. Plus, they look good in suits,” Busen said.

Every few years, Wyoming has national qualifiers, Bushen said. This year, that will be held in May in Chicago.

Doing the Numbers, Preparing for the Interview

Junior Michael Siguenza placed fourth at regionals, qualifying for states, in the payroll accounting category by taking a 60-minute test that included 20-30 questions on paper and computer. He joined BPA last year, his interest piqued by the idea of competing in business-related events. 

“I dove in head first without any real knowledge,” he said. The self-described “avid fan of math” studied hard, using a book on payroll accounting, to learn about the behind-the-scenes job that ensures workers get their paychecks.

Junior Johan Guzman shakes hands with longtime BPA chaperone Oogie Lamar, former Kent ISD director of adult education (courtesy)

Michael said he’s developed confidence along with skill through BPA.

“Last year, when I first did it, I was very nervous because I had no idea what I was doing with the etiquette. Everyone was in their fancy suits and such. But once you take the test and you finish it, you really get a sense of accomplishment and then you get to strut around in your suit.”

Junior Johan Guzman won fourth place in advanced interview skills and first place on a team for video production. He was interviewed for a fictional job as a wellness coordinator for a human resources department. To prepare, he learned about resumes, cover letters, portfolio, researching jobs and common interview questions. 

“It is beneficial for just having a normal conversation,” he said of the skills he’s practicing. “It’s just a necessity to learn and have as you grow, because you are going to get interviewed your whole life from now until you basically retire.”

Read more from Wyoming: 
I want to help students see the beauty in math’
New partnership brings health care career course to students

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is managing editor and reporter, covering Kentwood, Lowell and Wyoming. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013, and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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