Nichols gets ready for campaign

Imagine planning a statewide political campaign. Now imagine balancing several extracurricular activities, honors classes and a social life on top of that campaign, all during a senior year of high school. Welcome to the life of Ali Nichols.

At the International Career Development Conference (ICDC) in Orlando, FL, Nichols decided to run for Missouri DECA president. One of her DECA sponsors brought the idea to Nichols during the conference, and after a few days of deliberation she told her fellow DECA members.

“Ali was the only junior to make it to ICDC and she seemed very involved in the DECA process,” five-year DECA sponsor Melissa Trochim said. “I suggested that she run and she seemed really excited and responsive about it.”

Last year, Howell Central graduate and friend of Nichols, Wes Berger, ran for Missouri DECA president and won. This was just one more reason she was motivated to run this year.

“I saw the effort he put into it and how much fun he had,” two-year DECA member Nichols said. “I wanted to do that.”

In order to be considered for the position of Missouri DECA President, a candidate must first pass a test on a 17-page handbook, go through rigorous interviews and give speeches.

“The test is the big key,” Trochim said. “She has to give a big speech in front of the entire DECA congregation as well as the voting delegates. The campaign really has nothing to do with it. Realistically, it’s the test and interview [that matter].”

One of the prohibitions of running for Missouri DECA President is that Nichols cannot openly try to persuade voters, or students known as district voting delegates, before the state fall leadership conference on Oct. 14. In the past, campaigning before the conference has gotten candidates eliminated from the election all together.

“A student that was campaigning for a Missouri state office was having friends wear T-shirts that said ‘vote for me’ or something,” Trochim said. “The DECA officials wouldn’t let that person run. They take that seriously.”

Nichols says that despite the few competitors she has heard rumors of, she has support from everyone she has spoken to.

“There’s not a single person who has said anything negative,” Nichols, 18, said. “Most people are like ‘wow, that’s so cool!’ It made me feel really good.”

With her motivation and support, Nichols is planning on a successful trip to state in mid-October. She says she wants to give back to a program that has done so much for her.

“DECA’s my passion,” Nichols said. “Last year I fell in love with DECA, to see how it goes from school to district to state. It’s amazing. I want everyone to feel what it’s like to be at ICDC.”