FBLA Overcomes Competition Nerves


FBLA seniors showcase their awards. Photos submitted by Adriana Feijoo.

Joselle Escobar, Staff Reporter

The FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) club in MHS is preparing for this year’s competition season. It officially begins with the Northern Area Conference in Gurnee, IL, on Jan. 21.

FBLA is the largest club in MHS with about 130 official members. The members are able to participate and compete in more than fifty different event options, such as economics, virtual design, health care administration, hospitality management, sports entertainment and management, public service announcement and publication design.

The president of FBLA, Senior Kaitlyn Watkins, said that there is an objective test (a simple multiple choice exam on the topic) or presentation event for everyone to compete in. While preparing for Area the members are given different study guides to practice off of, and presenters are given guidelines of what to do and what not to do. Business people from the area even sit down to watch member presentations in order to give them feedback while they practice.

Carter Pacis, junior and FBLA treasurer, said he enjoys competition season and looks forward to the social aspect of it.

“My favorite part of competition is probably meeting up with all the different schools and meeting new people. It just gives you a better atmosphere about what FBLA is all about,” he said.

He also described the hype leading up to competition season.

“The competition season is really ecstatic and exciting for a bunch of the new members, especially for the freshmen and incoming members,” he said. “This really shows them what FBLA is like, and it benefits them because they are able to get a better experience.”

One of the most difficult aspects of competition the participants must overcome, though, is public speaking.

“The most difficult part of competition is having the self-confidence to actually compete. When you present, it’s hard to get up there when you’ve never had public speaking experience before,” said Pacis.

Despite the difficulties, Watkins described how presenting has affected her own confidence in FBLA and outside of it.

“When I competed for the first time, I did a presentation and that was terrifying. I had never done anything like that before like standing and talking in front of judges. I was on my own, but that really got me out of my shell,” said Watkins. “It just made me a little more confident about myself.”

Watkins said these nervous feelings are normal during the first few competitions, but she believed the experience becomes more comfortable as one goes on.

“I think that’s the scariest part; you really don’t know what to expect at first. You kind of have to go through it a year to really understand how everything works,” she said.

The members must practice and rehearse their presentations frequently in order to get more comfortable speaking. Several members claim that working in a group with friends makes the work much easier.

Pacis is working in a group alongside Junior Nick Manaligod and Senior Brendan Callas and is competing in Virtual Design and Networking.

“We have to prepare by studying different materials and get the overall process of how to compete and what the characteristics of our topic are. We have to create 3D graphics and stuff like that; it’s really cool,” said Pacis.

Pacis added that there are some drawbacks to working with his friends, but the benefits outweigh these drawbacks.

“Obviously you could get side-tracked when you’re having too much fun while you’re competing, but doing it with your friends will bring you closer,” said Pacis.

Manaligod competed for the past two years in FBLA competition and admires the excitement and zeal some participants have while competing.

“At first the experience was very nerve racking, but it was pretty cool just to see how much people are very into it and how passionate they are about this stuff. I was just doing it because I thought it was a fun extra-curricular, but it’s really cool to see how people get into it,” said Manaligod.

Watkins described the ease in working with one of her closest friends, Senior Mckenzie Theis.

“We just think the same way,” said Watkins.

Watkins and Theis this year are competing in Business ethics, an event where they must research a topic extensively and present a speech about it.

As president, though, Watkins makes sure members are cautious when choosing with whom they want to work.
“Some people do choose to work with their best friends, but we recommend that people work with people that they know are going to do the work and they know they can work well with. Everyone’s different,” said Watkins.
Many members are looking forward to doing well in the FBLA Area competition in January in order to make it to Nationals this spring in Anaheim, CA.