Business Professionals of America bound for nationals


Provided to the Clarion

Members of the Madison College Business Professionals of America Club show the awards they won.

Zach Mueth, Staff Writer

The Business Professionals of America (BPA) have brought home an impressive display of trophies from the State Leadership Conference this year.

The three-day conference ended in wild success for the team of eight Madison College students, many of whom qualified in more events than they will be allowed to enter at the upcoming National Leadership Conference in May.

Advisors Jeff Quinlan and Dan O’Brien were proud to see the team produce 35 top-ten finishes, including 10 first place and 13 second place winners.

The conference began Thursday, Feb. 16 with registration and a formal general session that led to the real competition on Friday, Feb. 17, where events started as early as 8 a.m. and concluded by 5 p.m.

“Friday is a long, grueling day for students,” comments Quinlan, who went on to explain that funding makes the schedule very compact. The final day, Saturday, is filled with a variety of workshops, a second general session, and, finally, the awards banquet.

 “That is the biggest payout as an advisor – watching the students get excited when they hear their names called and they’re up on the stage and they get their award in front of the whole conference. That’s really why we do it,” states O’Brien.

“The whole team placed in multiple events,” says Katrina Willis, a medical student with a background in business. Willis, a long-time participant in BPA and similar clubs, placed in a total of eight events in the state conference. However, students competing in the National Leadership Conference will be limited to three events of their choosing.

Willis plans to compete in Medical Office Procedures, Banking & Finance, and Small Business Management Team in May after taking first place in all three events.

“I just figured since I’m majored in medical, I need to actually do medical [events], and I previously placed second at Nationals in Banking & Finance twice. That’s why I picked that one again. I think I have something to prove to myself to see if I can actually break second place and get first,” says Willis with a light-hearted laugh.

The first place award for the Small Business Management Team composition came with quite a shocking background story.

“The young lady that was actually supposed to compete in that [event] had a situation that came up and she couldn’t make it to the conference. So my advisor, Mr. O’Brien, asked me at 9:00pm [Thursday] if I would step in,” Willis recalls.

The two had only four hours that evening to prepare for the event scheduled for 8:50 the very next morning.

“We thought we didn’t have a chance of winning,” says Willis, who pointed out that many participants spent months preparing. “We basically were stunned to win first place.”

Due to life responsibilities, some students were unable to stay to attend the awards ceremony.
Willis stepped in to collect their trophies as well her own. “I literally had to put my gym shoes on to keep running to the front for awards.”

The National Leadership Conference will take place in Orlando, FL on May 10-14, giving students a little over two months to prepare for the next level of competition.

“If you’re serious about adding something to your résumé, this is the club for you,” says Quinlan.
Students looking to get involved should keep their eyes peeled this Fall.

Willis concludes that BPA is “a great organization for professional development and networking.”