After the Regionals competition that took place in the 2nd week of January and State competition in the last week of February, students from East’s BPA (Business Professionals of America) prepare to compete at a national level.
BPA has been an organization of Oswego East for 5 years, dedicated to preparing students for business-related careers through advancing leadership, building workplace and technological skills, and more.
While the organization used to consist of both guest speakers and preparation for the competition, this year has been completely virtual and competition based. BPA members are strongly encouraged to at least compete in Regionals. Based on how the students perform, they may move onto State, and later Nationals.
Sophomore Avani Mathur, who competed in both individual ICD10 Coding and group Broadcast News Production Team, is one of the students who will be competing in Nationals.
The ICD-10-CM Medical Diagnostic Coding category consists of a multiple choice test and a separate application based test that measures the students’ knowledge and skills in medical coding.
The group Broadcast News Production Team category requires competitors to create a short yet realistic news broadcast, a promo, and to manage the audio quality, animations, technology, and so on.
This year was Mathur’s second time competing in BPA and first time competing in Nationals. Last year she advanced to State.
“It was different. I felt pretty confident because I studied and prepared well for the exam,” Mathur said. “Since I’ve never been to Nationals before I’m excited for it because it’s a new opportunity.”
Junior Beliah Christian is also competing in Nationals for her first time.
Christian competed individually in Legal Office Procedures at State. The specific competition for Legal Office Procedures consisted of a multiple choice application portion. Competitors are tested on their knowledge on how to file legal documents, legal positions, Latin terms, and so on. Christian will be competing in the same category for Nationals.
“I’m very excited because this is the first time I’ve competed in Nationals. And although we can’t go in person this year, I still think it will be a good experience for me,” Christian said. “I think the skills and competitions in BPA will help me experience what that’s like and help me build the skills I need in order to become a corporate lawyer.”
For her upcoming competition, Christian planned to prepare by using Quizlet and practice tests online from previous exams.
Sophomore Siddharth Senthil is competing at Nationals for his first time this year. He will be competing individually in Fundamental Word Processing, an event that measures the student’s abilities in keyboarding and document production.
“I’m not too nervous. I went in with the mentality that whatever the outcome is, I know I worked hard,” Senthil said.
BPA Sponsor Stacy Sajder said that the students were responsible for a lot of the preparation for Nationals.
“Because we’ve been virtual, this year hasn’t been very one-on-one, and I really like to be involved,” Sajder said. “At the same time, it’s nice to see the students take a lot of ownership and it’s okay for me to take a step back and really let them do it on their own because BPA is a student led organization.”
For some students, the aspect of competing face-to-face will be missed in this year’s virtual competition.
Sophomore and second time Nationals competitor, Aanya Roy said she’s enjoyed competing in person far more than virtually.
“I’m a pretty social person. I love meeting new people,” Roy said. “I like seeing my friends, I like competing face to face, because that actually does relieve some of the pressure for me, feeling like I’m communicating with someone in person makes it feel more like a conversation, rather than a graded presentation.”
Roy is competing in the group Broadcast News Production Team category along with sophomores Anshi & Avani Mathur, and Rakshita Kunde.
In previous years, Nationals was held over one week usually in the beginning of May. Because the competition will be entirely virtual this year, the competitions will take place throughout two weeks. The last week of April will be mostly individual competitions and group presentations will be held in early May.
As the students’ competition days grow closer, they find ways to ensure a good standing at Nationals.
Senior and first time competitor Ryan York said he’s not very nervous about Nationals but still chooses to study.
“I look at past tests and the answer keys out there. And for the procedure part, you’re allowed to have the handbook on you,” York said.
York will be competing individually in Legal Office Procedures. He will be tested on his ability to prepare legal documents, function effectively in a law office, and his knowledge on legal terminology.
“Making it to Nationals is a big accomplishment. Hopefully I can place a little higher than I did in State,” York said. “But overall for it being my first year, I was pretty surprised that I made it to Nationals on my first attempt. I was pretty pleased.”
For second time competitor and Sophomore Anshi Mathur, collaborating with her group helps her prepare for Nationals.
Mathur is part of a group presentation for the Broadcast News Production Team competition, along with her twin sister, Avani Mathur, and Aanya Roy.
“Group presentations help me learn to adapt, rely more on myself, and be confident in what we do. The strength to talk in front of others, be more clear, and work together, it all broadens the collaborative effort.” Mathur said.
Although this year BPA’s meetings were tailored for competitors, the organization helps students with all different kinds of goals and motivations. Roy emphasized how BPA can help students find passions through competition.
“BPA is not confined to just business. It has events for people who want to do medicine, it has events for people who want to do filmmaking, and more. I’m participating in something that challenges me, but it also helps me be inclined towards other career fields,” Roy said. “It really helps me broaden my perspective on all the options I have.”
Mariel Herrera is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl