Miami Sunset FBLA teaches students how to succeed beyond classroom

Miami Sunset FBLA teaches students how to succeed beyond classroom

Pictured (l-r) are Paul Salebe, Veronica Alvarez, Camile Garcia, Natalie Sanchez, Adriana Torres, Karla Leal, Amanda Gomez, Gabriella Mederos, Gabriella Garcia and Gabriella Diaz.

“Business is Everywhere” is the slogan for the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter at Miami Sunset Senior High that has been developing leaders and winning awards at the district, state, and national level for almost a decade.

Sunset’s FBLA, one of the largest clubs in the school, prides itself on doing community service, succeeding in competition, and representing the school in a variety of ways, all while wearing business attire.

“FBLA is a club for anyone, no matter what you intend to study in college,” said adviser Will Cohen, who has been in charge of the chapter since 2008. “I’ve had athletes, musicians, actors, AP students, every type of student you can imagine join this club and the ones that are committed get a lot out of it.”

Among the things students get is the opportunity to travel to conferences where they can network with and compete against students from around the state or country. In recent years, Sunset not only has traveled all over the state of Florida for various events, but they have gone to Chicago, San Antonio, Nashville, and Anaheim, which happens to once again be the home of this year’s National Leadership Conference.

Sunset FBLA is very proud of its alumni as well, and has a strong connection to many of its former members who often come back to help students with things such as preparing students for competition, serving as mentors, or participating on interview panels or as judges for mock events.

Albert Amaya, a Sunset alumnus, who served as Florida FBLA president in high school and is now the PBL (the college version of FBLA) state and national president, said that FBLA made him the person he is today.

“When I was in high school, I had a Mohawk, mediocre grades, and no direction,” Amaya said. “I joined FBLA and everything changed for me. I learned how to excel in public speaking; I learned many other things that have helped me succeed in college and in the work force, and I got the opportunity to develop my leadership skills. I’d recommend FBLA to every student, but especially at Sunset because we have such a great program there and we offer the type of support that you rarely find anywhere else.”

Karla Leal currently is serving as Sunset’s FBLA president and as Florida FBLA state secretary. She also believes that the program is life changing.

“I was a mess in ninth grade, but I joined FBLA and, when you spend time with great people, it motivates you to do better,” Leal said. “We did community service, fundraising; we got involved in different projects and suddenly, here I am, chapter president. If you had told me I’d end up like this when I was a freshman, I never would have believed you, but FBLA did that for me.”

Amanda Gomez, Sunset FBLA chief financial officer and District 26 vice president, said, “People hear about FBLA but they really don’t understand it until they get involved. It is so much more than people think it is. The people you meet, the real world environment, the conferences, competitions, the speakers you get to listen to, it’s a club that gives you everything you need and most of those things you won’t learn in a classroom.”

Recently, Sunset FBLA participated in the District 26 competition held at Miami-Dade College Kendall Campus. The awards ceremony took place on Wednesday, Feb. 1, at South Dade Senior High where Sunset continued its winning ways.

The following FBLA members qualified to compete at the State Leadership Conference in Orlando, Mar. 23-26:
First Place – Parliamentary Procedure – Amanda Gomez, Kayla Lorenzo, Adriana Torres, Natalie Sanchez;
First Place – Sports and Entertainment Management – Chris Ferrer and Yosvany Garcia;
First Place – Social Media Campaign – Karla Leal, Camile Garcia, Paul Salebe;
First Place – Business Ethics – Gabriella Garcia and Gabriella Diaz;
First Place – Sales Presentation – Veronica Alvarez;
First Place – Job Interview – Gabriella Mederos, and
Second Place – Impromptu Speaking – Rene Eljaiek.

Additionally, Amanda Gomez was appointed as District 26 Parliamentarian due to having the highest score on the Parliamentary Procedure test.

Jake Fernandez is a student journalist at Miami Sunset High School.

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