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WHS students to attend national BPA conference

Six Worthington BPA students -- Christopher Mayorga (back, from left), Jamie Le, Brianna Mullaney, Cheniqua Johnson (front, from left) and Larry Leovan -- will advance to the BPA National Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla. (Alyson Buschena/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- After competing in the March Business Professionals of America Minnesota state competition, six Worthington high school students will continue on to the BPA National Leadership Conference March 8-12 in Orlando, Fla.

This is the most students advancing to state that BPA advisor Penny Troe has had in her 15 years with the Worthington School district.

Students advancing to nationals include: Cheniqua Johnson, extemporaneous speech; Jamie Le and Alex Tang, medical office procedures; and Christopher Mayorga and Larry Leovan, digital media production.

To win first place in her category, Johnson said she drew two topics to choose between, was given 10 minutes to prepare a speech and "gave a five-minute speech to the judges about the impact of texting on communication."

For the medical office procedures category, sophomore Le completed a variety of tests relating to the medical field. Le said she chose the category because "it's related to my future plans."

Mayorga and Leovan said they have been interested in video editing for a long time. For their projects, they each made a one- to two-minute video promoting the 2014 national conference in Indianapolis.

Three Worthington students, junior Brianna Mullaney and seniors Johnson and Leovan, will also receive the Ambassador Torch Award in Orlando.

The Ambassador Torch Award is given to students who have completed activities in seven Torch categories: leadership; service; cooperation; knowledge; friendship; love, hope, faith; and patriotism.

Each activity is worth points, and students who reach at least 70 points in each category receive the Ambassador Torch Award, presented at the national convention.

To attend the national convention, the six students will raise funds to cover the cost of the trip.

"We'll be fundraising through May and need to raise $5,000 to cover the cost of everyone going," Johnson said.

The group plans to approach local businesses about sponsorships, and will do additional fundraisers in the community.

"If anyone would like to contribute to the costs, they can contact Ms. Troe," Johnson added.

This year, Johnson is also serving as the BPA Minnesota State Executive Historian.

"Having a state officer is another first for us," Troe said.

As part of her responsibilities, Johnson helped with various sessions at the BPA state competition and will serve in that role until next fall when a new executive historian is elected.

BPA was started in 1964 under the name American Vocational Association. Its current name was adopted in 1988.

Since its founding, BPA has served as a leadership organization for students pursuing careers in business management, office administration, information technology and other related career fields and has "contributed to the preparation of a world-class workforce through the advancement of leadership, citizenship, academic and technological skills," according to its website.

The Worthington students advancing to the national competition agree that BPA has given them the skills they need to succeed later on in life.

"BPA teaches us the life skills we need and that we'll need for life. It has opened doors that you wouldn't find in other organizations," Mullaney said.

"And it helps you excel and makes you a better person," Leovan added.

In addition to growing her professional skills, Johnson said BPA has made her a better and more well-rounded person.

"I love getting to meet new people, people I'd never meet otherwise. Plus, BPA helped with my communication skills and my confidence. When I was a freshman, I never would have guessed all the things I would end up doing with BPA," she said.

The students involved in the Worthington BPA aren't the only ones receiving recognition for their efforts.

Troe has been nominated for the Advisor of the Year award, the winner of which will receive recognition at the Orlando conference.

Troe is quick to praise the efforts of all the students in her BPA.

"This is the best we've ever done, and I'm proud of everything they've accomplished," she said.

Daily Globe Reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached at


Alyson Buschena
Alyson joined the Daily Globe newsroom staff after spending a year in Latin America. A native of Fulda and graduate of the University of Northwestern, she has a bachelor's degree in English with a dual concentration in Literature and Writing and a minor in Spanish. At the Daily Globe, Alyson covers the crime beat as well as Pipestone and Murray counties, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and cooking. More of Alyson's writing can be found at
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