Turning passions into paychecks

Starting a business requires a leap of faith but, according to three members of Oxford High School’s DECA program, it’s a risk worth taking.

OHS seniors Taryn Tucker and Luke Meyer along with junior Kenna Wagner have been teaching students and adults in Oxford about the joys and benefits of entrepreneurship throughout the school year as part of their DECA service project.

The DECA program is a global student organization that prepares students to be leaders and entrepreneurs in the fields of marketing and finance, hospitality and management.

The group has been working to promote entrepreneurship through a cross-generational campaign they developed called Passion to Paycheck.

“We were trying to turn it into your job. You’ll be more successful doing your job because you love it,” Wagner said.

Loving your job, according to the group, comes with many benefits, which include a higher self-esteem and a greater level of overall satisfaction.

Tucker said her group is looking to show people of all ages that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams. To do this, she and her team organized business-focused activities for elementary, middle and high school students, along with adults, throughout Oxford since the start of the school year.

At the elementary level, one third-grade class at Oxford Elementary participated in a number of fun lessons created by DECA members to pique their interest in the process of designing, launching and running a new business.

Several weeks later, the team turned its attention towards the middle school, inviting a class of students to participate in an interactive presentation that explored turning passions into careers.

“I think it’s really important that we brought awareness to something which is not broadly taught throughout grade school. I think opening the eyes of these students was really important,” Meyer said.

For OHS students, the team gave several presentations on business model design, giving the students an overview on the different parts of a business and the tools needed to be successful in starting one.

“We taught them how they can create any business they want and how to implement each of these things through their business,” Tucker explained.

The team of students didn’t end their efforts with students. They held a three-session workshop on entrepreneurship for adults at the Oxford Public Library in November.

Those who attended were challenged to create business plans that embodied their passions. “Most adults think their life is set . . . that they have their career and they’re good to go but it was really enlightening to teach them that they still have so many opportunities that they could take on with entrepreneurship, just like the younger students,” Tucker said.

Presentations to each group included a pre- and post-test for those who participated.

According to Meyer, the team was successful in its mission. A comparison of average scores for pre- and post-tests issued throughout all age groups showed a 32.5 percent increase in knowledge about entrepreneurship, he added.

Tucker, Meyer and Wagner said they will be taking their own message to heart as they continue on in their future and as they compete during DECA’s International Career Development Conference in Atlanta, Georgia in April.

Following high school, Tucker plans to attend either Michigan State University or Arizona University to pursue a degree in psychology or business.

Wagner plans to attend Michigan State University to earn a degree in business.

Meyer, who currently owns his own Oxford-based lawn care service, ML Lawn Care, said he plans to continue running his business while he pursues a degree in business.


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