Cal U hosts 270 high school students in a regional competition designed to prepare them for fulfilling careers.
Cal U welcomed 270 high school students to the Convocation Center on Dec. 6 to put their skills as future business leaders to the test.
The students, from 10 high schools in Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties, competed in the 2019-2020 Future Business Leaders of America Region 4 Leadership Conference.
FBLA is the high school division of Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda Inc. It helps high school students prepare for careers in business through academic competitions, leadership development and educational programs.
At Cal U, students put their abilities to the test in juried categories like public speaking, sales presentation, broadcast journalism, business ethics and social media campaign. Objective categories used multiple choice questions to determine winners in areas like agribusiness, health care administration, insurance and risk management, and accounting.
Winners will compete at the Pennsylvania Future Business Leaders of America conference April 6-8, 2020, in Hershey.
“Our job is to find the best of the best-of-the-best in this region to send to the state competition in April,” Janet Skiles, state FBLA coordinator and region 4 adviser told event judges prior to the start of the day’s events.
"The FBLA prepares students for the business world,” she said. “It also lets students mingle with students from other schools, so there is a social networking aspect that is beneficial.”
Seniors Madeline Heiser, Region 4 FBLA president and Chartiers-Houston High School chapter president, and Carly Whitfield, region secretary and vice president at Chartiers-Houston, both have career goals that align with the FBLA mission.
“I’ve always been interested in starting my own business,” Heiser said. “The club has helped me so much.”
“I’ve made a lot of connections,” Whitfield said.
Volunteer judges relished the opportunity to provide constructive feedback.
“FBLA gives young people the opportunity to learn more about business, economics and community service and also to develop self-confidence,” said Michele Sites, FBLA coordinator for grades 5-8 who judged Introduction to Public Speaking and Impromptu Speaking.
“It teaches them about teamwork, and it’s a place to excel for students who may not be involved in sports or other activities. It develops our students so they are prepared to be better citizens, employees and employers.”
Christine Kindl, Cal U's vice president for communication, welcomed the participants.
“Cal U is pleased to host these outstanding, well-prepared students. It is the University’s mission to prepare our graduates to be successful in their careers, and we are pleased to welcome the FBLA, an organization that strives to develop business and leadership skills at the high school and middle school levels.”