Infinity High senior wins first at BPA event

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Business is a competitive field, with everyone looking for an edge.

Thanks to Business Professionals of America, one Infinity High School student has gained a bit of a competitive edge.

Julia M. Dendinger-News-Bulletin photo: Infinity High School senior Leni Leaver, left, holds the first-place award she earned at the Business Professionals of America state competition in February. She was accompanied by Infinity teacher Mary Batista, right.

In February, Leni Leaver spent two days in Albuquerque competing against fellow BPA members from across the state in timed tests in areas such as extemporaneous speech, where students had to demonstrate communications skills in arranging, organizing, and effectively presenting information orally without prior knowledge of the topic.

They also had to demonstrate their skills in web design, graphic design promotion, and researching and developing a mobile phone and tablet application.

Leaver took first place in business meeting management concepts, which incorporates fundamental concepts accepted as good practices in any business unit including business planning and strategy, organization and execution, trust and transparency.

By taking first place, Leaver qualified to go on to the national competition in Indianapolis, which will be held April 30 through May 4.

Business Professionals of America is a career and technical student organization for students pursuing careers in business management, office administration, information technology and other related career fields.

But Infinity teacher Mary Batista says it’s much more than that.

“It’s a student-leadership organization that gives students an opportunity to use their business skills to test and compete,” said Batista.

She is the teacher who accompanied Leaver to the state competition and will take her to the national competition.

BPA has 43,000 members in more than 2,300 chapters in 23 states.

Of the state competition, Leaver said she wished she would have competed in more tests.

“The one I did really helped me with my interview skills; basically you sell yourself,” Leaver said.

But Leaver and Batista weren’t sure she had sold herself enough. During the awards, the two were sitting all the way at the back of the room.

“There were about 400 awards given out, and we were honestly thinking about leaving near the end,” Batista said.

Then they heard “Leni Leaver.”

“It was such as surprise,” the teacher said. “She has gained so much from the experience; her excitement is just infectious.”

And during the trip back to Belen, Batista said Leaver had a bit of an epiphany.

“She found so much more confidence in taking tests of all kinds,” Batista said. “So many students struggle with standardized tests, I think this would be a huge benefit to anyone.”

Leaver said once she understood she could do well under the kind of pressure at a BPA competition, filling in the circles for the Standards Based Assessment was a piece of cake.

“I hated tests,” she said. “I cried during the SBAs. But if I can do that, I can do any test.”

Batista said any CTSO, including BPA, prepares students for becoming working professionals.

“It really gives them the confidence to perform well in any field,” she said.


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.