Thursday, April 21, 2022
Bailey Stacy | Communications Coordinator, Marketing & Communications | 405-744-2700 | [email protected]
Hospitality and Tourism Management junior Kyla Ellis won first place at the Collegiate
DECA International Career Development Conference in Baltimore on April 9-12.
Ellis competed in the Entrepreneurship-Starting a Business division against students
who are “the best of the best from all 50 states and multiple countries around the
Ellis, a junior from Edmond, Oklahoma, is studying hospitality and tourism management
with a concentration in event planning. She plans to graduate in May 2023 and then
hopes to open her own company, Events Unboxed.
Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) is a business student organization
that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in business principles through leadership,
community service and competition. The Collegiate DECA International Career Development
Conference offered leaderships workshops, competitive events, career exhibits, networking,
and a professional development series to name a few.
Within the Collegiate DECA Competitive Events program, there are five events participants
can compete in: Business Management and Administration, Finance, Hospitality and Tourism,
Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Within each event there are more specific topics students
can present on.
Ellis competed in the entrepreneurship category focusing on Starting a Business. The event was attended by 1,000 students, plus advisors and staff.
She presented over her own business idea of Events Unboxed. Within her specific category,
she competed against 24 other teams in the preliminary round then against nine other
teams in the finals. Teams range from one to three members.
Each team wrote a 15-page paper that included the overall business plan and financial
reports for their company. Then presented for 10 minutes before having a 10-minute
questions and answers portion with the judges.
At this competition, there were three people from Oklahoma — two of whom made it to
the finals and then the winner, Ellis. This was the first time in 20 years that the
winner was from Oklahoma.
Ellis has been a part of DECA for six years. In 2020, she started a collegiate chapter
at Oklahoma State University and this past February she completed her term as the
first Oklahoma Collegiate DECA State President in Council 1.
“If I had to pick one person who inspired me to get as far in DECA as I have, it would
have to be my high school DECA advisor, Kim Walters, or Walt as I call her,” Ellis
said. “She pushed me, challenged me and never let me stop short of something she knew
I wanted (like winning DECA glass).”
Ellis is looking forward to assisting others by opening Events Unboxed after graduation.
“It was born out of the desire to help people celebrate,” she said. “We deliver pre-themed
and packaged parties with the option for customization delivered directly to your
door. The birthday party industry is worth $38 billion. We will specifically target
younger individuals with kids who are either single, very busy or who want a social
Alexis Hightower | [email protected]