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Competitive business club grew quickly at MSUM

MOORHEAD - When Gavin Doppler was a freshman at Minnesota State University Moorhead, he thought the university's business school was lacking in extracurricular activities.So he founded a chapter of DECA, a competitive organization for budding ent...

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Senior Gavin Doppler, left, and sophomore Kaleen Krueger are two of 15 MSUM students who qualified for the international DECA competition in April. Doppler founded the MSUM chapter his freshman year.

MOORHEAD – When Gavin Doppler was a freshman at Minnesota State University Moorhead, he thought the university's business school was lacking in extracurricular activities.

So he founded a chapter of DECA, a competitive organization for budding entrepreneurs and business leaders in high school and college.

"We had an average meeting size around probably five to 10 members depending on whether we had free pizza or not," 22-year-old Doppler said recently with a laugh.

But the group has grown and thrived. Today, it draws about 30 to 40 members per meeting; 15 qualified to go to Washington, D.C., in April for the international DECA competition.

Doppler, now a senior, believes the group's success is a boon to the entire school of business.

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"Being that we're the state school across Eighth Street, I think sometimes we get a bad rap, and that's also a big reason why I wanted to start the organization, because I wanted people to have pride in where they go to school," he said. "We definitely have competitive students."

One is sophomore Kaleen Krueger, who took second place in a hotel and lodging event at the state competition in February.

Her challenge was to create a marketing plan that would attract business professionals to a struggling ski resort during its off-season-in 30 minutes.

That might be stressful for some, but for Krueger, "it's so much fun," gushed the 19-year-old, who is president of MSUM's chapter.

The students try to make their meetings fun, too. Doppler used to start every one by blaring the music of James Brown.

"That would just set the pace for, OK, we're going to get stuff done today in this meeting ... but we're going to bring it with good vibes at the same time," he said.

For weeks leading up to the state competition, the students practiced for events in accounting, sales management and marketing, to name a few.

Doppler said the variety prepares them for whatever they want to do in the business world.

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"I can 100 percent say that Target gave me the offer because of the skills I learned with DECA," said Doppler, who is a campus liaison with Target.

Now, the students are putting their skills to work as they raise $15,000 to go to the international competition. They are holding fundraisers through Pizza Ranch later this month and in April.

In future years, Krueger hopes the chapter will grow even bigger-"and just be sustainable," she said. "I think it would be incredible to come back in 10 years and DECA still be around."

If you go

The student organization is working from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Pizza Ranch in Fargo on March 21 and April 4, and at the Pizza Ranch in Dilworth on April 11. If you go, say you're there for DECA.

Related Topics: MOORHEADEDUCATION
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