Belen High School junior places fifth in national BPA competition


Belen High School’s Business Professionals of America chapter stood out amongst a crowd of more than 6,000 participants at the National Leadership Conference last month.

Belen High School Business Professionals of America member Jessica Rodriguez received fifth place in the Medical Office Procedures event at the National Leadership Conference last month.

Junior Jessica Rodriguez ranked the highest of the group, coming in at fifth place in the Medical Office Procedures event.

The second-year member didn’t think she performed as well as she did, and kept telling herself that while waiting for the final results.

“I just felt that I didn’t do as well as I did in state, especially sitting next to the No. 1 from Texas,” Rodriguez said.

“I kept thinking that there was no way I beat the No. 1 and shockingly I did,” she said, adding it was well worth it to have missed prom, scheduled for the same weekend, to attend the conference.

Rodriguez also placed 19th in Administrative Support Concepts, 21st in Merit Scholar, 22nd in Business Meeting Management and 37th in Financial Math and Analysis.

But Rodriguez wasn’t the only one who did well.

Four out of the five chapter members placed in the top 50 spots in nine competitions, including individual, team and open career technical events, with some facing more than 700 competitors.

“For them to place 21st or 30th is really quite the accomplishment when you’re looking at 700 students competing for that spot,” said BPA sponsor Sheri Spader.

Emilio Baca received 11th place in Digital Media Productions and 13th place with Danielle Hawkes in Small Business Management Team.

Xu (Joe) Ziyao placed 21st in Financial Math and Analysis, 32nd in Banking and Finance, 32nd in Business Meeting Management, 34th in Merit Scholar, 41st in Management, Marketing and Human Resource Concepts and 44th in Administrative Support Concepts.

One Belen High School member was unable to participate in the competition.

In this professional organization, young individuals are taught skills necessary to be future leaders.

“I can see that they will be successful one day in whatever they do,” Spader said.

The sole Valencia County chapter, which began about 15 years ago, came off to a rocky start this school year. BPA — offered as a class — was canceled, leaving the local chapter in limbo.

After students repeatedly approached Spader about the chapter’s status, she decided to reactivate the chapter by turning it into an after-school club in November.

One month later, students were prepped and ready to compete in regional competitions, where they qualified for state.

“You have to be in the top two or three or five places, depending on the event, to qualify for state and then for nationals,” Spader said.

In February, the chapter brought home eight trophies from the State Leadership Conference.

Within six weeks, the group raised more than $7,000 through bake sales, root beer float sales and donations to fund the April trip to Chicago, Ill., which was a first.

“This is the first year we received enough money to go (to nationals) in the past five years,” Spader said.

Students received the knowledge necessary to build upon for regional, state and national competitions by taking Career Technology Education courses, such as Computer Application and Health Occupations.

In their free time, students quizzed their knowledge through practice exams, studied test booklets and received critiques on their presentations.

Even though the high school chapter is small, it fosters a supportive atmosphere, where members exchange tips.

But most of all, “it’s really fun,” Rodriguez said. “I think a lot of people would like it. They should try it out and see.”

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