By Emily Berryhill
The smell of anticipation filled the air as people in business attire walked into the University Center for the annual Future Business Leaders of America conference. The sounds of students practicing their upcoming speeches rang throughout the building and in the midst of chaos, Diego Castaneda, vice president of FBLA, was giving a pep talk to the members of the club.
“Being the vice president for FBLA, my current duties are to recruit members, as well as talking to them and trying to get them prepped, and also try to get them more involved because as of now it’s difficult to try to get more students involved,” says Castaneda.
Involvement is highly essential in FBLA, as its main goal is to help develop students in various aspects that involve business such as leadership skills and general knowledge.
“I felt that I can influence others in the business field because I know a lot of people go for that field,” Castaneda said. “And with that I can influence other people see business in a different light and point of view since it’s very hostile and very competitive. It’s also an easy way to connect with the people around you.”
FBLA is one of the largest student business organizations, helping over 200,000 members, but Castaneda wants to lead a legacy and feels that it is vital to uphold that said legacy, especially this being his last year at College of the Canyons.
“I always had a leadership characteristic within me. I don’t like taking orders, I like giving them. That way, I can be the main motivation for everyone to keep going,” said Castaneda.
The club each year brings almost 30-40 students, half of which are returning members. “I work with others, because I know my dreams will eventually come true. Being in this club helps with that, which is why I come back year after year,” said Ashna Azrar, a returning FBLA member.
With every event that happens, members are expected to have a competitive edge in order to compete in the different categories.
“Although every event is meant to ‘enhance leadership and communication skills’, it’s still very competitive and with all the opportunities to participate in different categories, like a business case analysis or public speaking events, you want to win and go out on top,” said Azrar.
Participants have the opportunity to present different ideas in a similar style to Shark Tank and receive experience and needed preparation necessary for the real world.
In the conference that occurred late November, there were many students from schools all over California, like UC San Diego, UC Riverside, Cerritos College, Diablo Valley College and La Positas College, allowing students to meet new people from all around.
“With all the events, you meet tons of new people, establish a network for your future, get involved with the national organization, and looks amazing on college apps,” said Daniel Budi, President of FBLA.
Budi is one of the many officers within the club and did it alongside Castaneda in order to grow professionally.
Both of their positions allow them to have freedom when having their weekly meetings, as well encourage full participation.
“To be part of a like-minded community that’s all doing the same things you want to do, now that’s an incredible thing,” Budi said.
Every semester, FBLA encourages everyone to join, even those who are not business majors.
“Anyone can take skills from FBLA and apply them to their everyday lives, that’s why no matter the major, anyone is welcome to join,” said Budi.