Exactly 7 years ago, at the age of 15, I sat in the back of a sea of people all attending the 2005 FBLA National Leadership Conference. As a freshman in high school, I was in awe of the thousands of members competing to be the nation’s best. I was the first freshman ever from Portage High School (WI) to qualify for NLC. While I didn’t place in the top ten that year, it didn’t matter – I was hooked.
The next year I came back to compete again and ended up placing 2nd in FBLA Principles & Procedures, an event that truly helped me to learn and appreciate the ins-and-outs of FBLA-PBL. I knew every nerdy fact about our organization – ever need to know the national center zipcode, or all nine of the FBLA-PBL goals in order? I’m your guy.
Well…I finished out my FBLA career at Portage High School, Wisconsin FBLA’s largest chapter at the time, as the 2008 Who’s Who in Wisconsin FBLA, the cherry on top of a great four years. FBLA really complemented my high school experience so well, from the people I met to the places I went, it all helped me to grow as a leader.
Well…it was time for college. I decided to go to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for academic reasons. However, the also were home to the nation’s largest PHI BETA LAMBDA chapter, with just under 500 members – that also drew me. To be honest, when I got to compete at my first Wisconsin PBL SLC, I was a bit surprised by how small it was. It was also rather disorganized at the time. Maybe PBL wasn’t for me? That same year, we got a great new State Adviser, Dr. Patricia Ward. She has been amazing and like a second mother to me throughout my PBL career.
Well I decided to stick with PBL obviously and also decided last minute to run for PBL National Office at the very last minute, with one of my best friends from UW, Courtney Bauer. She was running for North Central Region VP and I was running for National Parliamentarian. I couldn’t have been more nervous. My parli skills were not that of a pro (pun intended) and I knew that. I studied Robert’s Rules of Order and the question bank day in and day out for a couple months. One test and 1,200 flashcards later, I was installed as the 2009-2010 PBL National Parliamentarian. It was such an amazing feeling. I was on the stage as one of the nine individuals chosen to lead and represent our organization for the next year.
The next year, I decided to run again for office – this time North Central Region Vice President. I was elected and served another great term. I was having such a great time traveling and meeting so many great people.
It was the summer before the 2011 PBL NLC. I knew that the minute I ended my term the year before, I wanted to run for PBL National President. I spent the year preparing. I had a great campaign manager and my State Adviser to help me through the entire campaign process. Perhaps the most emotional part, I was back in Orlando, FL, the site of my very first National Leadership Conference back in 2005. Only this time, I was on stage delivering a speech to thousands asking them to put their faith in me.
Well, I was successful in my campaign and became not only the 2011-2012 PBL National President, but the first EVER three-term National Officer in FBLA-PBL history.
In a nutshell, that is my story. I’ve won money, won awards, lost competitions, given speeches, attended workshops, heard amazing speakers, traveled to great locations, and much more (the list seems almost endless). I am here to say that FBLA-PBL can be whatever you want it to be.
One thing I know to be true…these years have been “Simply the Best” and I wish that each and every student has the same experience that I have been blessed to have had.