CHS business leaders take on FBLA National Leadership Conference


Andy Ho qualified for Nationals

By Emily Diamond, Editor-in-Chief

Cleveland’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club truly upheld their name at the state competition. Out of eight students that attended the conference in April, every Cleveland competitor placed in the top 10 in their events and received awards in front of a 1,000-person audience at the Oregon Convention Center. Four freshmen and two sophomores finished in the top four in their designated category, enabling them to continue to FBLA National Leadership Conference in June in Atlanta, Georgia.

The purpose of FBLA is to help students learn about American business enterprise and prepare them for careers in business.

Within FBLA, there are different categories related to business. Included in these categories are financial math, banking and financial investments, securities and investments, risk and insurance, and job interviews.

Each category had different steps in the competition. Some required a 100-question multiple choice test, others involved speeches, and another required an interview. After all the tests and activities, the top four finishers in each category qualified for Nationals.

Linda Owen-Cooper, business teacher and advisor of FBLA, helps students prepare for competitions and provides study materials. Although there has been some success in the past—several years ago two students placed second in the nation in their events—they were still anxious for the results. “We were on the edges of our seats as finalist groups were called to the staging area. When the awards were announced after that, we moved to our feet with, ‘Yes! They did it!’” she said.

The six students who qualified from Cleveland are sophomores Andy Ho, Zander DeLambo, and Skylar Hyde, and freshmen Julie Ma, Linda Hu, and Samuel Boghossian. Derek Chin, junior, received fifth place at the state competition and is now qualified for Nationals after a recent drop-out.

Andy Ho

Ho competed in the job interview category. He wrote a resume and a cover letter and pretended that he was applying for an internship for an exchange program in New York to be the activities director. The interviewers base the results off who is most qualified and who presents themselves the best. “I went in and they would just ask me job interview questions for the position that I made up,” Ho said.

Ho made it past two rounds of interview sessions and ended up placing first in the category. “I was pretty shocked when I found out, but I was so excited.”

Ho stated that interviewing is a skill where “you either have it or you don’t. There’s not too much practice,” he said. “You just have to connect with the interviewer.” In the future, Ho may want to pursue a career in international business.

Zander DeLambo

DeLambo competed in the securities and investments test as well as the risk and insurance management test, placing second in securities, and fourth in insurance management. “It’s all about the stock market and investments,” he explained.

DeLambo decided to join FBLA because he wants to go into business later in life, specifically in the stock market.

“I really wanted to go to nationals but as soon as I got to the state competition and saw the couple thousand people there, I didn’t think I had a chance,” he said. “I was really happy when I found out I made it to nationals in two events.”

Julie Ma, Linda Hu, and Samuel Boghossian

Ma, Hu, and Boghossian competed as a team for banking and financial systems. The first part was a 100-question test on the computer and then the top ten continued with a speaking part. They had 20 minutes to prepare a seven-minute speech with an impromptu topic.

“The questions were about everything from types of insurance, banks and plans, investing plans, and different kinds of risk factors for investment. There’s this whole book about it,” Hu said. Instead of reading the textbook, Ma said she reads newspaper articles on her phone to inform her of the topic.

Boghossian specifically focused on online banking, plus he learned about how to use online sites to help jump start businesses.

When Hu, Ma, and Boghossian found out they made it to Nationals, they started “freaking out on stage,” according to Ma. “It was ecstatic on stage,” said Boghossian. “It was surreal, really.”

Skylar Hyde

Hyde, sophomore, received third place in Healthcare Administration. Similar to other students, she completed a multiple choice test prior to the state competition. Topics in this area range from competency in medical terminology, managing office procedures, and legal and ethical issues in healthcare.

“I was and still am really excited. I remember having the rest of the group telling me to go up before it had registered that they said my name,” said Hyde about the moment she found out she had qualified for Nationals.

FBLA exceeded everyone’s expectations at the state competition. This is now a dilemma for the club, as they didn’t do any prior fundraising for the national competition. “We’re definitely going but now we are trying to raise as much money as we can,” said Boghossian. “But the good thing is we can use what we learned in banking and financial systems to help us fundraise,” he said.

In the meantime, many students are continuing to study to prepare for the national competition. “There will be a Portland area national competition prep day in May for students to take practice tests, prepare for impromptu questions and case studies, and receive feedback from volunteer judges,” said Owen-Cooper.

“It’s a lot of work but when you get to study something you’re interested in, it makes it way more fun,” Boghossian said.