University of Minnesota Crookston students recently competed in the Minnesota Collegiate DECA State Career Development Conference in Willmar, Minn. and five chapter members advanced to the International Career Development Conference which will take place in Austin, Texas in April. U of M Crookston brought home from Willmar five 1st place, two 3rd place, and 16 event finalist awards, plus Abbey Linstad won the Advisor of the Year Award.

“I am incredibly grateful to have been awarded the Advisor of the Year for Minnesota Collegiate DECA,” shared Linstad, who is also U of M Crookston’s Residential Life Area Coordinator. “I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with the DECA members on the Crookston campus and in the state of Minnesota.”

“I would like to express my gratitude to my fellow advisors for their hard work throughout the year and for serving as examples of what I aspire to be,” she added. “A special thank you goes out to Al Fattal, Craig Miller, and Nanette Thurston for attending the State Conference and generously volunteering your time to assist in judging the competition. Their dedication, along with that of countless other volunteers and donors, is what makes Collegiate DECA events not just events, but a culmination of dedication, passion, and generosity. Their commitment to fostering student growth and development is truly commendable.”

The state conference provided students with the opportunity to experience real life business scenarios through competition and connect to potential employers through networking events and feedback. Students who competed included Omowonuola Idowu, Ernesto Rafin, Elizabeth Medlen, Samuel Tilahun, Giaan Britney Le, Norden Bista, Chris Veres, Jenna Custer, Mikael Samson, and Redwan Eshetu. U of M Crookston faculty and staff who served as judges included Assistant Professor Al Fattal, Lecturer Craig Miller, and Career Services Coordinator Nanette Thurston.

Bringing home individual event awards were Medlen (1st place in Financial Accounting and 1st place in Corporate Finance), Le (1st place in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing), Veres (1st place in Restaurant and Food Service Management and 3rd place in Human Resource Management), Custer (1st place in Sales Management and Leadership), and Tilahun (3rd place in Entrepreneurship Operations.) In team events, Samson and Eshetu were event finalists in Sports Marketing, and Idowu and Rafin were event finalists in Business Ethics. Custer and Bista were also prepared event finalists in Professional Sales. Special mention to Le, Bista, and Eshetu who were event finalists in Retail Management, Hotel and Lodging, and Travel and Tourism, respectively.

“I want to acknowledge all the students who have taken the first step to ‘Experience the Difference’ by showing up for themselves,” Linstad shared. “I am incredibly proud of all our members and students. To those who have advanced to ICDC, congratulations! I hope to see members and other advisors in Austin in April!”

Interested in supporting the members who advanced to the International Career Development Conference? Check out their crowdfunding page To learn more about U of M Crookston’s DECA chapter, visit

UMC Collegiate DECA chapter at 2024 state conference

Crookston 1st place state DECA winners
DECA state conference 2024
Abbey Linstad - Advisor of the Year
DECA state conference 2024

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