Dalton High School senior Lina Rangel (pictured far left) has competed in DECA competitions for the past couple years, focusing on the hospitality and tourism category. This year, however, she decided to change things up by entering the retail merchandising category. Rangel placed in the Top 7 for the state DECA competition, qualifying her to compete at the international level.
Rangel does have a bit of real-life experience with retail merchandising, as she grew up working in her family's store, La Latina, in Dalton. However, she said what took her to the top was sticking to the basics.
"I was nervous before the competition, but I realized it would be best just to make my presentation relatable to the crowd and talk about things they knew, like Black Friday sales," Rangel explained. "I studied for the exam portion with the performance indicators and vocabulary, but for the presentation, if you add too much of that, it gets to be too much."
Her strategy worked. Rangel finished in the top 10 at the regional competition and in eighth place when she moved ahead to the state competition. Judges' feedback indicated that she made good eye contact, dressed professionally and spoke clearly. And although only the top 7 competitors are eligible to compete in the international round, Rangel qualified when one competitor ahead of her could not participate.
Rangel said what helped her the most was having self-confidence, something she learned from her marketing teacher, Dr. Joey Wills. "His confidence rubs off on you, and you realize you have to speak confidently to get your point across," she said. "I remember him telling me right before it was my turn to just 'be my charming self.' So that encouraged me, and I was like 'Okay, I got this.'"
She credited her other role models for helping her be successful. Rangel also works with athletic training for the football team, and said Athletic Trainer Crystal Clark pushes her forward and helps her stay focused. She also mentioned Football Coach Matt Land taught her to have faith in herself.Rangel is considering either studying marketing or athletic training when she graduates and starts at Dalton State College. She will compete at the International DECA competition in Atlanta March 21-24.