DECA Competition Win and New Job Fuel Kaylen Pocaterra’s Interest in Business Career

Kaylen Pocaterra shows off her DECA Competition medals outside the State Farm office of Abe Dispennette, where she recently began working part time. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
Los Alamos Daily Post

This year, Los Alamos High School Junior Kaylen Pocaterra discovered a new passion when she enrolled in a marketing class and joined DECA. DECA is an organization for high school and college students, that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe. Now Pocaterra is dreaming of a career as a business owner, although she hasn’t quite decided what kind of business she’d like to run.

“DECA gives students the opportunity to get more in depth than a class would,” Pocaterra said. “You get to meet people with similar interests. I’m planning to apply to be president next year and I hope to really increase the membership.”

Recently, Pocaterra and her partner, Jyelyn Bold, traveled to Albuquerque to compete in DECA’s statewide competition, where they won first in the Marketing Competition for their advertising campaign. Now it’s on to the national competition in Atlanta, Ga. in May.

The two designed an advertising campaign for Los Alamos National Bank’s online banking services, designed around environmental awareness and going paperless.

“We used what we’ve learned in our classes and in DECA to design advertisements, posters and a social media campaign,” Pocaterra said. “We developed art material and a PowerPoint presentation for the competition. There was a panel of two judges and we presented to them as if we were presenting our campaign to LANB.”

Pocaterra also recently advanced from the regional to the state level competition for National History Day. She competed nationally last year with a project on the railroad system. This year, she and her partners, Kim Postovich and Sarah Criscuolo, presented a project on the Pentagon Papers.

Pocaterra also is active in Key Club, Natural Helpers and National Honor Society. Two weeks ago, she added a new activity to her busy schedule when she began working part-time for State Farm agent Abe Dispennette. Pocaterra works 10 horus a week doing office tasks and learning about the insurance business.

“She’ll get more responsibilities as she learns,” Dispennette said.

DECA sponsor Tammy Seidel recommended Pocaterra to Dispennette when he called LAHS seeking a student to work in his office. “I want to encourage young people coming up in business,” Dispennette said. “Tammy told me she had someone she would highly recommend and got me together with Kaylen.”

When Dispennette learned of Pocaterra’s first place award at the DECA competition, he wanted to make sure she got some recognition and called the Los Alamos Daily Post.

“It’s important to recognize student achievement in business as well as in areas like science and technology,” Dispennette said.