Rachel Luczak and Ron Lewis make it to Nationals for FBLA

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Ron Lewis and Rachel Luczak at nationals

Rachel Lang

The national group Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) was founded in 1940 but was new to St. Joseph high school last year. FBLA focuses on presenting and competing against other students that participate in different levels of business connected themes. This group, led by Ms. Sajder, grew significantly with excited students ready to put their skills to the test. Two exceptional students from the class of 2013 went above and beyond at the 2012 convention. Rachel Luczak and Ron Lewis made it all the way to nationals in St. Antonio representing IL and St. Joseph High school.

Ron and Rachel’s story begins with them first joining FBLA early in September of their junior year. They both explained that they weren’t eager about it and others pushed them into joining. As the year went on, they discovered what FBLA was all about, realizing the fun and importance it held. Each student had the opportunity to pick a subject that they were going to compete in. Rachel picked personal finance because she was strong in math and Ron picked public speaking because he always had a love for it and figured, “Why not I’ll give it a try.”

Their first conference was regional’s in Illinois at Lemont high school where Rachel placed third out of five and Ron placed third out of four. Next competition was State in Decatur, Illinois where Ron placed first out of twenty-two and Rachel placed third out of thirty-three. “We were both super excited to find out we were going to nationals. I couldn’t even believe it was real.” Ron Lewis explains.

To compete in nationals, each had to raise seven-hundred dollars. “I baked a variety of cookies and desserts and then during the lunch periods I would sell them to everyone.” Rachel clarifies, “I raised $1,100 all together.” Ron sold candy and had gotten support from his church to help him fund the trip. Not only were they working hard to raise their money, but they were putting extra work into studying and presenting. Ron hired a public speaking coach to guide him and Rachel explained, “I would just come a half hour early every day and read a chapter out of the personal finance book Ms. Sajder gave me.”

Rachel, Ron and Ms. Sajder took a small airplane to St. Antonio, Texas and stayed at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, for a total of five days and four nights. “Yeah, the airplane was so uncomfortable, everyone was squished. It wasn’t like one of those nice big airplanes in Bridesmaids, it was a tiny one.” explained Rachel. Not only did they spend time with each other but there were other kids from Illinois staying with them. When they entered, they saw there was an estimated five thousand kids there competing against each other in a variety of business related subjects. “I just never imagined ending up at nationals, looking back to when I first joined FBLA and then being at something that huge, it’s crazy.” Ron clarifies that, “It was a once in a life time occasion. We met so many people, it just felt so real. It was nerve racking at first but then the nervousness changed into excitement. It made me feel focused and ready for the real business world.”

Unfortunately, Rachel did not place in nationals, but she will continue to participate in FBLA this year. Ron won seventh in public speaking and will also continue contributing in the club. They both clarified that they are going to compete in this year’s convention. They stated, “It would have not been possible for us if Ms. Sajder wasn’t helping and guiding us through this whole journey. She gave us encouragement and made us look forward to competing.” This year the St. Joseph community wishes Rachel and Ron the best as they enter to compete all over again.