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May 09, 2022

AHA’s First International DECA Competitors Excel in Atlanta

The Academy of the Holy Angels’ first DECA International Career Development Conference qualifiers wowed the judges, and finished at the top of nearly 18,000 peers from high schools in multiple nations. This year’s conference took place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, from April 23 through 26.


Shivani Sahu of Paramus received the Glass Trophy for her third place overall finish in the automotive services marketing series. She also earned a Red, White, and Blue Medallion for placing in the Top 10. Sahu advanced to the final round after earning a Blue Ribbon Medallion for her top two win in her group event. Blue Ribbons are awarded to the top 18 competitors, who then advance to the final round of the event.
Jaclyn Larraz of New City, New York, finished ninth overall in the virtual business challenge – fashion. She brought home a Red, White, and Blue Medallion for her Top 10 finish.
Sharanya Agarwal, a freshman from West New York, competed in the principles of finance category. She received a Silver Ribbon Medallion for earning the top score in her group’s presentation. Agarwal also won a Blue Ribbon Medallion for finishing in the top two overall in her group, and advanced to the finals as one of the top 18 competitors.


“I was already so proud of all of us for qualifying for DECA ICDC, so when the news came that all three of us were finalists in our categories, it was such a pleasant surprise!” Sahu said. “To think that there were over 17,500 students there and every participant from Holy Angels received some sort of recognition definitely increases my admiration for all of our hard work.”
Sahu competed against approximately 200 ICDC participants in her category.
“I was very shocked when I heard my name called, especially since this is my first year ever competing in ASM and at both States and ICDC,” she shared. “I also thoroughly enjoyed networking with my other competitors and exploring what the historic downtown Atlanta provides. I definitely made some true friends at DECA ICDC.”
Sahu thanked DECA Adviser Krystal Reilly and AHA Middle School Dean Traci Koval for their guidance. Koval chaperoned the group to Atlantic City and Atlanta while Reilly was on maternity leave.


“All of this is a dream come true,” Larraz added. “I am extremely proud of myself, Shivani, and Sharanya. All of us worked hard and are deserving of this! Next year, I plan to return to DECA and work to expand our chapter.”
Asked about her win in Atlanta, Agarwal said, “It feels unreal and I’m really proud of my efforts. For me, coming in first is next.” 
Holy Angels’ DECA team has been competing since 2018. This March, the team excelled at the state event in Atlantic City, and several students qualified for the conference in Atlanta.


In the state event, Sahu finished first in the automotive services marketing series; Brooke Hess of Cedar Grove earned second place in retail merchandising; Agarwal was fifth in the principles of finance; Lily Cossio of Tenafly finished sixth in principles of hospitality and tourism; and Larraz and Hess qualified for this international event for their work in the virtual business challenges.


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.