The Portage High School Business Professionals of America students are heading, virtually, to Nationals.
Six Portage High School students have qualified for the BPA Nationals competition, scheduled to take place on April 24, after a strong performance at the State meet earlier this month. Junior Logan Reese was the Indiana State Champion, placing 1st in Economics. Also qualifying for BPA Nationals are senior Zachary Yong with 5th place in Personal Finance, junior Carter Mullins with 3rd place in Personal Finance, freshman William Kenzie with 3rd place in PC Repair, junior Isaac Snuffer with 2nd place in Personal Finance, and senior Kwadejah Marfo with 2nd place in Interview Skills. Students qualify for Nationals by placing in the top five in their categories.
While Reese competed at last year’s in-person State competition, this was the first year at State for Yong, Mullins, Kenzie, Snuffer, and Marfo. Reese said virtual is much different from the typical in-person competition, but he is proud of everyone for doing so well at State in the virtual format. This year’s National competition will require Yong, Mullins, Kenzie, and Snuffer to take an online assessment in their categories, while Marfo and Reese will participate in live streamed presentations and interviews.
This year marks the highest number of students to attend BPA Nationals from Portage High School. Reese said he was surprised at the results based on the odds of success at State.
“There are 1,050 people at State, and the idea that you can be one of the top five people in your contest is not something you expect,” Reese said.
Reese feels like he improved a lot from last year and has high expectations for himself heading into Nationals.
Snuffer said his 2nd place finish in Personal Finance was surprising considering this category was not his first choice.
“It felt a little weird knowing I’m going to Nationals for my plan B, but I’m not mad at it,” he said. “I’ll do the best I can, hopefully number one.”
Yong, who is the Class of 2021 valedictorian, said studying hard for the Personal Finance assessment was key to his 5th place finish in the category. He didn’t have a lot of expectations for State, but he said qualifying for Nationals was “pretty huge.”
“I was watching the live stream and was like ‘Oh, wow, I’m in the top five,’” he said. “I’m just going to do my best and go from there; just keep studying and keep working.”
Mullins said the State competition was challenging, so he didn’t expect to place in the top 5 and qualify for Nationals.
“I was pretty surprised when I heard that I was going to Nationals with 3rd place,” he said. “I’m just going to study harder and hopefully place at the top.”
Marfo said a pep talk from BPA sponsor Bryan Bernacki helped her earn her second place finish. This is the second time she has earned a second place finish in this category this season, so she has her sights set on first place.
“With Nationals, there is more pressure than State because I was mostly there to have fun,” she said. “Interview skills was right there in my playing field, but now I have to work harder.”
Kenzie’s 3rd place finish came as a shock considering this is his first year of high school and the PC Troubleshooting category was his second choice.
“If I get first place at Nationals, I have every reason to be a very happy person,” he said. “I’m very surprised that I got this far.”
Marfo said the key to the entire team’s success has been supporting each other throughout the season. She said they will give affirmations to each other before their competitions, and they are continuing this heading into Nationals.
All six students plan to use the knowledge and skills they have gained in BPA to help them in their future careers and aspirations.
“Having some knowledge on finance and having some knowledge on how to balance money is good to have,” said Yong, who plans to major in mechanical aerospace engineering next year. “Having that and having people skills is huge because you can be the smartest engineer ever but not have the best people skills and maybe not make it as far as someone who has the knowledge I learned in BPA.”