The University of Minnesota Crookston Collegiate DECA Chapter recently competed at the International Career Development Conference (ICDC) in Austin, Texas and were recognized as a Top 10 chapter. Crookston DECA members in attendance brought home blue and silver ribbon medallions from a variety of challenges.

DECA advisor Abbey Linstad, who is also a residential life coordinator at U of M Crookston, says the chapter was recognized internationally at the grand awards ceremony and had a member place second overall in their category.

“This year we had four members from our chapter attend ICDC,” Linstad explained. “This marks a significant milestone for our chapter. As we are only in our second year as a chapter, we are incredibly grateful for the support from our University faculty, our families, and those who make events like this possible.”

Students who attended the 2024 conference include Jenna Custer, Elizabeth Medlen, Britney Le, and Samuel Tilahun.

Custer, a senior majoring in business management with a minor in international business, competed in sales management and leadership, and received a silver ribbon medallion plus an international recognition award. Custer also participated in the enterprise sales challenge where she placed in the top 12 and received a blue ribbon.

“Attending the ICDC DECA conference in Austin, TX was a great experience,” said Custer. “I connected with fellow members, learned invaluable skills, and proudly placed at an international level.”

“Seeing my growth from a year ago fills me with pride, especially as a member of the Crookston DECA chapter,” she added. “Here, I didn't just attend—I excelled in my select categories! DECA has given me the confidence to step into the real business world, post graduation. This organization has paved a path of excellence for any student who chooses to participate. Thank you to my advisor Abbey Linstad who continuously supported, mentored, and led me through this experience. Without her I would not have had these opportunities!”

Medlen, a sophomore majoring in accounting and finance, competed in financial accounting and received a silver ribbon medallion, plus received an international recognition award.

“It was an absolute honor to represent my school at the DECA International Career and Development Conference (ICDC),” Medlen stated. “ICDC really let me stretch my skills and practice applying what I’ve learned in a high-pressure, competitive environment.”  

“I enjoyed how the case study event challenged me to think on my feet, apply what I know, pay attention to the details and find the solution,” she added. “I’m truly grateful to my dad for giving me the work ethic that drives me, to our chapter Advisor Abbey for encouraging me, to Craig Miller for encouraging me to join DECA in the first place and to my professors for preparing me with the knowledge and understanding I needed to perform well and bring home the 2nd place International Champion award.”

Le, a sophomore majoring in marketing, competed in fashion merchandising and marketing, and received a silver ribbon medallion at the preliminary awards session.

“At ICDC in Austin, Texas, I had an absolute blast connecting with both familiar faces and new connections,” shared Le. “Every competition was an opportunity to sharpen my skills, and this year, in my second year of Collegiate DECA, I felt a newfound sense of confidence and strength.”

Tilahun, a sophomore majoring in software engineering, competed in the entrepreneurship operation challenge.

“ICDC was an experience that I will never forget, I definitely learned a lot,” said Tilahun. “It equipped me with the things I’m going to need as a future employee.”

“I had a great time connecting with new people as well as people from the state (competition),” he added. “Getting the opportunity to be better and learn is something that I will always be grateful for.”

During the Grand Awards Session, there were two announcements: The 2024-2025 membership theme will be, “Be The One” and the 2025 ICDC will be on April 5-8 in San Francisco, California. Thinking about joining the DECA chapter next year? Send an email to and get on the list.

Story Contact: Abbey Linstad - - (218) 281-8536