Samaira Mehta (’24) and Leo Shao (’24) take on new role as DECA State Officers


Photos provided by Leo Shao and Samaira Mehta

Leo Shao (‘24) pictured left and Samaira Mehta (‘24) pictured right were inaugurated to become the California DECA President and VP of Marketing for 2023-24 during this year’s states career development conference.

DECA is a business-oriented organization that harbors future entrepreneurs interested in business at the high school level. Amador’s DECA club is one of more than 3,200 high school chapters in the US, competing in local, national, and international competitions year-round. 

During the California State Career Development Conference in early March, Leo Shao (‘24) and Samaira Mehta (‘24) were inaugurated as the California DECA State President and the California DECA VP of Marketing. 

Through an extensive application process, Shao and Mehta were the only two Amador Valley candidates campaigning for a position in the California DECA team. Shao and Mehta are now part of Team 73, the 2023-24 California state DECA officer team.

I wanted to become the California DECA state president, because DECA has really been a vital part of my high school career. After sophomore year, I felt like it was only right for me to take on further roles, help train more DECA members, and also make a more powerful impact across the state,” said Shao.

This the first time Amador Valley DECA has two members simultaneously in California’s DECA State Office. Shao is also the first Amador Valley student from AV DECA to become State President. 

“The inauguration was on Instagram Live, and it was a really big emotional rush. Everyone who supported me along the way was there, so I hugged everyone that has helped me in the past. I felt so overjoyed and excited,” said Shao.

Making progress

Both are driven to better DECA chapters across California. Shao and Mehta had convincing plans, winning the votes of many delegates from each California DECA chapter. As President, Shao emphasizes nurturing California DECA’s smaller chapters. 

“Before COVID hit, there were quarterly in-person President council meetings, where specific state officers from different regions would meet with chapter presidents in person, and it’s definitely something I want to bring back,” said Shao.

Mehta highlighted her goals as the VP of Marketing for California DECA to expand DECA’s reach, increase awareness about DECA’s opportunities, and provide for smaller chapters.

“For our existing chapters and dormant chapters, we want to help them grow or revive themselves. This looks like hosting mentorship, through Instagram lives and doing mentorships that are live so everyone can see some tips and tricks for DECA,” said Mehta.

Due to their role as a campaigning candidate and competitor, many Amador Valley DECA officers and members covered the campaigning booth as they pitched in place of the candidates during their competitive event.  

“I was immensely proud of Leo and Samaira for reaching this achievement in DECA. It was definitely a monumental moment in the Amador DECA history. I tried my best to assist them in their campaigning process, but they themselves really grew above and beyond that allowed them to reach the level of success that they did,” said Andrea Yang, Amador Valley DECA Chapter Co-President.

Dreaming big

Balancing between campaigning for their position on the California DECA team and competing to qualify for the International Career Development Conference, Shao and Mehta were able to succeed in both.

I’ve put in a lot of work to get where I am and of course I’ve had a lot of support from my fellow DECA members, my DECA presidents, other chapters, and my family to get here. I’m really excited for the future and helping California DECA grow as an entire family,” said Mehta.

Both Shao and Mehta will be heading to the International Career Development Conference in Orlando, Florida in April to compete and represent California. 

“I’m ready to take Amador Valley DECA and especially California DECA to new heights, and I already know it’s going to be an amazing year,” said Shao.