Business organization blossoms in short period of time

Akiel Griffith/Contributing Writer

Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lamda, or simply known as FBLA-PBL, is a business professional development organization, aimed in harvesting business skills of students across the nation. The organization has divisions at the middle school, high school, the colligate levels and a professional department, which provides support to all three divisions.

“Our chapter has risen in the last six years… our school was practically a nobody. It’s literally unheard of for a chapter to start off in a bang,” said Luis Castillio, the current president of PBL’s chapter at the University, as he referred to when the chapter first started in 2007 and continued immediate success.

Within a few short years, FIU’s chapter has won FBLA-PBL national awards, such as “Second Best Chapter.” In its first year, it started out with eight competitors who either came first or second in state competitions to qualify, and thus went on to represent FIU in the national competition.

Among hundreds of colleges participating in that event, they came back winning awards in 10 competitions.

“You get the skills that they don’t teach you in class,” said Castillo. He also added that seeing the fast evolution of the chapter has been one of his greatest experiences.

Like Castillo, Gedma Estrada has also been in the organization since her K-12 student years, before joining at the collegiate level. When asked what great thing she has learned about the organization, Estrada stated, “The networking. I’ve been able to network with kids all over America and the Florida.”

Estrada noted how the organization has helped her develop from a shy girl to an outspoken business professional. She also expressed how her experiences within the organization have helped her appreciate competition.

“I’ve learned that competition means a lot,” said Estrada.

Nonetheless, Estrada not only holds the position of State Representative in the FIU chapter, but also the position of Florida PBL State President. She’s responsible for overseeing activities, vision and goals of the various PBL chapters throughout the state of Florida, which include over 700 members.

“It’s hard trying to be the leader of the entire state when you can’t be with your core group during that time,” Estrada said, when discussing the difficulties of her role in the organization. However, she does see the bight side.

“This role has given me a lot in the little time that I have been elected. It’s taught me about communication, deadlines and most importantly, what we all suffer with: procrastination. Growing through this role professionally will not only help me in my future, but it’s helping me grow as an individual,” said Estrada.

One of things Estrada is most proud of is helping hone the skills of members in the chapter. This includes two best friends, Nicole Jimenez and Jacqueline Perez.

“My greatest achievement in the organization has to be winning first place in ‘Business Presentation’ along side my partner (Perez) in this year’s National Leadership Conference in San Antonio, Texas,” Jimenez said.

“I would have never thought we could create something that companies wanted,” said Perez, after discussing how the judges at the competition asked for a copy of the duo’s presentation.

Jimenez and Perez, who will be starting the upcoming fall semester as sophomores, met and graduated from Southwest Miami High School together. They then decided to join the chapter last summer as summer students and interns.

When asked what she liked best about the organization, she stated, “Everything. They have everything I’d want in an organization.”

After the summer ended, the pair was ambitious enough to run for a position on the chapter’s executive board during the start of the last academic year. Jimenez was voted in as Vice President of Social Events while Perez was balloted Historian.

Nevertheless, when questioned about her greatest experiences, Perez stated, “Being exposed to things that the average freshman wouldn’t be exposed too.”

This includes networking with executives and professionals from various companies in corporate America. The list comprises companies such as Enterprise and Target, to name a few.

However, Perez and Jimenez’ biggest accomplishment was winning the “Business Professional” team competition at nationals.

“I realized that I was able to work in a team… me and my partner had the same work ethic… and we got what we deserved,” said Perez.

When asked what advice she would give to students interested in joining, or any prospects for that matter, Jimenez stated, “You get to go to different places.”

Even though she worked so hard to win the competition in her category on the national level, the experience wasn’t just about that. “Being part of a group that takes trips…it’s fun,” said Jimenez.

Nonetheless, one thing she has been grateful for is the networking. “You get to meet a lot of people. I love the competition,” added Jimenez.

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