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Millikin University business students were recognized for their outstanding efforts at the 52nd annual Collegiate DECA International Career Development Conference (ICDC) held April 17-20 in Anaheim, Calif. The team of Peter Bushnell, a senior entrepreneurship major from Elmhurst, Ill., Jamie Rockhold, a junior accounting major from Clinton, Ill., and James Vavak, a junior marketing major from Fenton, Mo., won the 2013 ICDC Entrepreneurship Challenge. The team of James Vavak and Malcolm Branch, a junior management major from Chicago, Ill., placed in the top ten of the ICDC Sports and Entertainment Marketing Competition.

"Our students were competing against the best from other states," remarked Dr. Carrie Trimble, Millikin assistant professor of marketing. "The students were very confident during their interaction with the judges, and they were amazingly excited and exceptionally happy when they were announced the winner of the entrepreneurship challenge."

During the entrepreneurship challenge, students worked in teams to create a unique business concept based on a theme provided during the conference. Each team made a brief presentation to one or more judges who determined which team made the best business pitch. This year's theme focused on rising health care costs for business employees.

Millikin's team created a concept focusing on a food truck that sells fresh and healthy foods to businesses. The concept included sharing healthy lifestyle choices and nutritional information with business employees. The award for winning the challenge was a $5000 scholarship and a $350 prize for the individual chapter. The award was sponsored by Hilton Worldwide and the International Franchise Association Educational Foundation.

"We had a great team and we felt that we had all aspects of the business covered going into the event," remarked Rockhold. "It was amazing to be a part of the event because there were so many students from a variety of schools and different countries. You have the opportunity to talk with the best of the best and hear about their business programs – it was an eye-opening experience."

Trimble added, "For this particular event you have to think on your feet and work together, and the feedback they received described how well they worked together as a team. It's all about articulating your concepts and focusing on the idea, and I think they did an amazing job. The students are accustomed to making presentations and talking to adults about what they are doing, and that makes a big difference."

James Vavak and Malcolm Branch's first project during the Sports and Entertainment Marketing Competition focused on creating a marketing strategy for a movie theater based in a small market. The team developed a competitive analysis of surrounding movie theaters and created a marketing campaign for their theater. After reaching the finals of the competition, Vavak and Branch's final project was centered on managing a sports commission in a growing city. For this particular project the team had to create a five-year strategic plan describing the growth of a sports committee within the city and building the community.

The International Career Development Conference offers DECA members the chance to engage in challenging learning activities, receive awards and recognition for competitive and chapter achievements, and expand peer and business networks.

DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe. DECA is organized into two unique student divisions each with programs designed to address the learning styles, interest and focus of its members. The Collegiate Division includes over 15,000 members in 200 colleges and universities. For more information on DECA, visit www.deca.org.
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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL