Morgan Mitchell, a senior at Park City High School, was approached last year to compete with the high school's Future Business Leaders of America team. She honorably declined the opportunity because of a prior engagement - she was running a business already.
The 17-year-old recently participated in her first State Future Business Leaders of America Conference Tournament after being coaxed for the second time by Danny Fisher, Park City High School teacher and program coach.
"This year [in school] I was in Mr. Fisher's financial literacy class. During his class he had us prepare for a mock interview that he thought I did well. He asked me to join the team again this year. I wasn't running a business so I took the opportunity," Mitchell laughed.
During an interview, the young businesswoman, who assisted in leading iWorld Simulations, a space voyage simulator center located in Salt Lake City, explains she just recently felt like she has accomplished something in the business world.
On March 6 - 7 at Davis Conference Center, she along with 12 other members of the high school's team competed against 1,500 students representing 100 high schools throughout Utah - nobody saw the dark horse coming.
"Morgan is a cut above the rest," Fisher said. "She stood out as somebody that would be successful at this. She doesn't necessarily want to go into business, but I knew this would challenge her and give her opportunities she normally wouldn't have.
Competing in two different categories - Job Interview and Business Communications test - the rookie placed first out of 100 with her interviewing skills and seventh out of 300 for her test scores.
The job she may have earned was nonexistent - but the experience was not.
"Winning the competition was a shock," Mitchell said. "When they announced my name as the winner while I was on stage, my jaw dropped. I received a money prize for the victory and I decided I should write a thank you letter immediately to those involved. I had a real hard time writing the letter because my hands wouldn't stop shaking."
While only one member per high school can participate in the interviewing portion, according to organization's guidelines, Mitchell was unanimously selected by Fisher and teammates to represent the team. In order to prepare for the interview with a board representing a fictitious company, Mitchell prepared a resume and went to the interview much like she will in future years.
The Business Communications portion of the competition is a one-hour, multiple choice test, demonstrating the student's understanding of business communication skills - writing, speaking and listening.
"Having the skills that I learned with the help from Mr. Fischer and the FBLA, whether or not I choose a career in business, I can take these skills with me anywhere in life," Mitchell said. "I really recommend other [students] get involved in programs like these at the school. Trying something you are passionate about, rather than what everybody else is doing, will make you a lot happier and successful in the long run."
According to the organization's National Awards Program website, the group recognizes and rewards excellence in a broad range of business and career-related areas. At the State Leadership Conferences, students competed in events testing their business knowledge and skills. Top state winners, such as Mitchell, are eligible to compete for national awards at the National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, Calif, on June 27 - 30.
Competitive events fall into three categories: individual, team, and chapter. Individual and team events focus on skills useful in leadership and career development, while chapter events recognize overall achievement and performance in chapter management and growth.
She wasn't the only student from the school to have success at the state tournament. Dustin Howard, Joe Thomas and Jackson Rodgers were selected by tournament judges to represent the school in the Marketing competition at the national tournament.
With less than three months to prepare— Mitchell's interviewing skills are top-notch, but her finances are not in order for her trip to the national tournament.
Earlier this week, Tom Kelly vice president of communications for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, brought Mitchell to the monthly Park City Rotary Club luncheon as his personal guest.
"Morgan sold me Girl Scout cookies years ago," Kelly said. "She is just a wonderful young lady and very motivated. I brought her to the Rotary Club to help her raise money for her upcoming trip."
During the meeting, Mitchell met with what she described as the business leaders of Park City. She was also given the opportunity to report on her success at the state tournament and address her needs for donations to take the trip to the national competition in California.
"I have received some funding from the state," Mitchell said. "I am still planning to write some letters out to community members and businesses asking for donations. Meeting with the Rotary Club was a great start."
In the fall, Mitchell will be attending Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass., to study aerospace engineering.
"My passion for space travel formed on a fifth grade field trip to the space center while I was at Parley's Park [Elementary]," Mitchell said. "During my mission I was the captain of the ship and I have been hooked ever since. I have been volunteering there all throughout high school."
With confidence, Mitchell explained she wanted to be an astronaut after attending college. Acknowledging that career field seems like a childish dream, she said there is a lot of opportunity in private sector space travel.
"I think she is a contender to be in the top ten at the national tournament," Fisher said. "It's hard to say with a competition with the caliber of students she will be competing against, but knowing Morgan she is a student that will rise to the occasion."
According to Fischer, the team and administrators heading to nationals in June are seeking $6,000 in support to fund the trip. Each student and administrator is required $1,000 to pay for the expenses of the trip.
"I think the program pushes students to try things they normally wouldn't," Fisher said. "It amazes me that these students rise to the occasion and put in all of their effort. I really believe these students can achieve more in life than they normally would from the skills and opportunities created by the FBLA."
To donate money to support the trip, contact Danny Fisher at 645-5650.