It’s pretty clear that Marc Paul Campantero has a bright future ahead after the Grade 12 St. Michael Catholic secondary school student finished fourth among 168 competitors in the accounting applications category at the DECA International Career Development Conference in Orlando, Fla.
Accompanied by St. Mike’s DECA club staff adviser Steve Eliasziw, Campantero joined 19,000 other students from across North America last week to compete at the conference as the sole representative from both the Stratford Catholic high school and Perth and Huron counties.
“It feels great,” Campantero told the Beacon Herald on his return to Stratford. “I just tried my hardest. I was more intrigued by the experience itself because I was there with the best of the best. Being around them, competing with them, I got to make a lot of new connections and friends there who had similar interests and goals in mind.”
Having qualified by winning four medals in the accounting applications catergory at the provincial DECA competition in Toronto earlier this year, Campantero won a medal for placing in the top 10 for one of his oral case studies and placed in the top 10 overall in the category at the international competition, taking him into the finals.
“The first part was a 100-question multiple-choice (test). … We had 90 minutes, but you could take as little or as long as you like within that timeframe. After that, the next day we were given our time slots for our case studies. We had to go at that time and we were given our case studies which, for me, were all accounting or financial analysis based. Then I read the case study and was given 10 minutes to prepare my presentation, and then I was given 10 minutes to present and answer any questions from the judges,” he said.
While a little nervous during the competition, Campantero said he felt prepared after spending almost every minute of downtime he had studying with his fellow competitors and new friends. One of those friends, he said, actually ended up taking third place, the spot just above him, in the accounting applications category.
“I don’t mind that she got third,” Campantaro said. “Because she was also in my category and we trained together, we got quite close and became friends. I know she trained quite a bit and studied more than I did, so I was happy to see her succeed.”
For Eliasziw, who spent his time in Orlando mentoring other competitors from Southwestern Ontario as part of a teacher-exchange initiative while ensuring Campantero took at least a little time to have some fun, his student’s achievement on the international stage made him proud as an educator and gave him hope for the future of the DECA club at St. Mike’s, even after he retires and leaves the club in the capable hands of his fellow staff advisers, Bryson Filipetti and Leticia Bottema.
“Marc is someone who is very driven and focused. He came to a lot of our (club) meetings and he worked, but he also worked on his own. … If Marc was here for another year, he’d be coaching the junior kids. … Marc was one of the few who drove himself and learned and made connections with mentors outside of school. … Even though it was just me and Marc from St. Mike’s at the competition, Marc was able to make those connections (with other competitors) with ease. … I didn’t have to worry about that. … Going on his own and making all of these invaluable connections; that’s Marc,” Eliasziw said.
After he finishes high school, Campantero will attend McMaster University in the fall to study integrated biomedical engineering and health sciences.
“It’s health sciences and engineering, but it’s also entrepreneurship, which I’m quite interested in as well,” he said. “The accounting skills I learned through DECA will apply in any course I take. In any course I take, you need to know some basic level of finances.”
DECA, which stands for Demonstrating Excellence, Celebrating Achievement, is an organization of competitive high school and post-secondary business clubs first founded as the Distributive Education Clubs of America in the U.S. 70 years ago. There are 13,000 DECA members in Ontario and more than 215,000 members worldwide.