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February 28, 2018
Branksome students win by highlighting entrepreneurial thinking
Branksome Business Club’s may be small, but it is mighty. As a chapter of DECA— an international association of high school and college students and teachers of marketing, management and entrepreneurship in business — students are invited to compete in the DECA Provincial Competition.

This year, three Branksome students beat out contenders from hundreds of public and private schools at the Provincials, and will move on to the international competition in Atlanta, Georgia in April, 2018. This marks the second year Branksome students have advanced to the internationals.

“For us, this was more than just creating a business plan to compete,” says Jennifer Qu, who partnered with Carlee Olsen to win a team event. Their 25-page Business Plan outlined a program they created to promote youth entrepreneurial learning, called “Be Inspired,” which included a series of monthly events at Branksome to engage students in entrepreneurial activity. “We really wanted to instil an entrepreneurial mindset,” adds Olsen.

And that, they did: unleashing a series of monthly activities — like a “hackathon” which asked students to compete to develop a solution to long line ups at the cafeteria. Thanks to their innovative strategies and strong promotional reach, including class visits, posters, and a robust social media platform, every student was engaged in entrepreneurial thinking.

“Before our project, we conducted a survey and 79.5 per cent of students did not know what entrepreneurship was,” said Qu. By the end of “Be Inspired,” the awareness of entrepreneurship more than doubled, with 100 per cent of students actively participating in an entrepreneurial event.

Olsen and Qu admit to being intimidated competing against hundreds of students at DECA Provincials, but they believed they had an edge because no one had a project like theirs. “It was so liberating winning. We worked so hard, an extra 10 hours every week, constantly preparing,” said Olsen. “The accomplishment alone was reward enough for us, but getting to go to internationals is like the cherry on top.”

Grade 12 student Morgan Headrick also competed at the DECA Provincials, where she won three medals in the individual Sports and Entertainment Marketing category. Last year, Headrick was the first Branksome student to ever attend DECA’s international competition, where she ranked fourth in the world.

While Headrick is unable to attend this year’s international competition due to conflicting obligations, she is grateful for all the learning she’s gained. “DECA really allowed me to think more on my feet. I remember years ago I would go into a test having memorizing information. Now I can rely on my critical thinking skills and be more in the moment so when an unfamiliar question is posed, I can adapt and trust my ability to problem solve rather than panic.”

She adds that those kinds of critical thinking skills are at the heart of entrepreneurism, an invaluable mindset that enables you to find new ways of approaching problems and creating solutions.

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