Anna Shah president of IL DECA

Junior helps oversee entire Illinois DECA organization

Like many New Trier students, Junior Anna Shah has a busy extracurricular schedule. Every week, she spends a lot of time and effort on the school’s branch of DECA, an international organization that arranges high school business competitions.

While many students are immersed in their extracurriculars, Shah’s involvement with DECA takes it to the next level. Since the fall of 2018, she has held the influential and demanding position of Illinois DECA President.

As President, Shah oversees the entire Illinois DECA organization. “My job is to make sure that everything is running smoothly, preparing for state, and delegating tasks where they need to be accomplished,” said Shah.

Shah works with a board and four Vice Presidents from other schools. Once a month, she meets with the Vice Presidents to discuss their current objectives.

Recently, their discussions have focused around the Illinois State DECA Competition, which was held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Hotel in Rosemont on Mar. 6-8. New Trier DECA Sponsor Bob Bollweg said that they put, “different entertainment options and donations together, and [decided] on shirts that [were] given to every student.”

At state, Shah was the point person for the 1500 students that competed. Among other responsibilities, she handed out donations and went up on stage to give speeches for the student competitors.

Since Shah became President, she has had to get used to speaking in front of large groups. A few weeks before state, she had to auction off premium tickets at a Bulls Career Conference on the United Center court. “It was kind of nerve wracking because there were so many people there, but I think it was good preparation because I had to speak to 1500 people at state,” explained Shah.

Shah has also had to find ways of making better use of her time. “I had to realize that I couldn’t do everything at once,” said Shah. “Sometimes I get a hundred texts from the state officer teams at once and it feels like they want a hundred things from me. But, I have to filter through and see what I have to do specifically.”

All in all, Shah’s sponsors and teammates from DECA feel she has done a tremendous job in all aspects of her position. DECA Sponsor Melissa Duffy said that “She’s a natural leader and has thrived in this role. She’s already brought in a lot of fresh ideas.”

While Shah has gotten certainly better at being President with experience, her teammates and sponsors all said that her excellent personal character lends itself to the position.

“Anna Shah is the most professional, hard-working, driven person at this age that I have ever met. Her willingness to do any number of tasks at any level of difficulty is frankly unbelievable, and yet her humility in doing so is potentially more captivating,” said Junior DECA member Solomon Podorovsky.

Bollweg agreed with Podorovsky that Shah became President in part because of this excellent personal character. “It’s very difficult to achieve DECA President, especially as a Junior,” said Bollweg. “She just has the poise and the natural leadership ability.”

The process of becoming Illinois DECA President is a lengthy one. Prospective candidates first submit a resume and short application. They then take a short answer exam about DECA. Finally, they attend a fall leadership conference, where they are interviewed and give two speeches.

Delegates from each Illinois high school, with a DECA club, attend the leadership conference and vote for President. In 2018, Shah was elected.

When asked if she would like to be President next year, Shah offered a mixed-bag answer, “I think I’m going to run again next year, but it really depends on if state’s the most stressful experience of my life,” said Shah.

Shah did add, however, that “I feel that I would be better prepared for next year now that I know exactly what the responsibilities are.”

Regardless of whether Shah is President again next year, it is clear that she has a bright future ahead of her. Bollweg said that “she has a lot going for her. I think that she could really do whatever she wants because she’ll have a lot of success in it.”