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by SOPHIE GORECKI - April 19, 2021 - State recognized emerging leader and WHS DECA chapter president, Ashley Lunsford (12), reflects on her accomplishments and discusses plans for the future.

DECA president Ashley Lunsford (12) sat patiently awaiting the results of the DECA emerging leader award, which recognizes outstanding leaders in the state of Indiana with a promising future in business. Lunsford was the only WHS student nominated this year and ended up also being the recipient of the prestigious award.

“It was a complete and utter surprise,” Lunsford said. “I knew I was nominated, but Indiana is one of the most competitive DECA states, so I had no idea I was even going to come close to winning anything. When my name was called I was sitting next to my mom and we just screamed, it was great. It was very heartwarming to know my hard work paid off and it was being recognized.”

In addition to her recognition for leadership, Lunsford has also been successful in competing in the accounting applications track. She and eight other WHS DECA members secured a spot to compete at the DECA international competition in April.

“I’m looking forward to competing at the international competition for sure. I never thought that I would get here. We have eight members going and it’s astonishing we could do that in a time with COVID.”

As president, Lunsford has also kept DECA members engaged during a year where membership in clubs has been dropping more than ever.

“We maintained an increase in our membership, with COVID we were expecting our membership to drop since other surrounding clubs had their membership drop. We got recognized at the state level for maintaining membership.”

Lunsford’s plan to keep members engaged was to give back by helping other WHS clubs like Dance Marathon and Care Like Cate.

“We also got recognized at the state level again for our community involvement, which is a really big thing we wanted to dedicate our time to this year since DECA isn’t usually known as a community involvement club and we really wanted to change that.”

By serving as DECA president, Lunsford had the opportunity to gain real-world experience in both leadership and business in preparation to attend Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in the fall of 2021.

“DECA has definitely prepared me for a career in business because not only does it force you to apply the things you learned but it also forces you to get better at people involvement, on-the-spot thinking, and oral communication."

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