Biz-savvy students surprised by success

What happens when drive and motivation get the best of you? Sometimes, they will get you ahead of yourself and leave you stranded.

That’s what happened to three bright students at Neil McNeil Catholic Secondary School this year.

Neil McNeil Grade 11 students Tamim Chowdhury, left, Enrique Olivo, centre, and Gowttam Perinpanayagam placed fourth in a student business competition. PHOTO: Phil Lameira / Beach Metro News
Neil McNeil Grade 11 students Tamim Chowdhury, left, Enrique Olivo, centre, and Gowttam Perinpanayagam placed fourth in a student business competition. PHOTO: Phil Lameira / Beach Metro News

Best buddies Gowttam Perinpanayagam, Enrique Olivo, and Tamim Chowdhury, all in grade 11, decided in November of last year to participate in a business oriented competition through DECA (Developing Excellence Celebrating Achievement) Ontario, an organization that offers learning opportunities to students in various business and marketing subjects.

With business teacher Peter Ransom as an advisor, they created a DECA chapter and developed a presentation and business plan, dubbed Project Cashflow, that educates graduating students on financial literacy. They had just one month to work on the project before presenting it at DECA’s 34th Annual Provincial Conference in February.

“We identified graduating high school students who were going into university as our target audience,” said Chowdhury. “Our ultimate goal was to foster the education of financial literacy into secondary school students.”

Perinpanayagam also came up with the idea of creating a website to support the project, www.projectcashflow.ca, where information about paycheques, pay stubs and banking is available to students.

Olivo said the team felt intimidated as they presented to the judging panel, comprised of certified accountants and managers.

They big surprise came when they placed fourth in their category (Written Events) from a group of nearly 4,000 students, and qualified for the international competition.

“Going into this, we weren’t expecting to place,” said Ransom, adding that the short timeframe under which the project was created didn’t allow them to plan for funding a trip to the international event in Anaheim, California in April – they need $6,000.

The students have informally declined to participate, but are still looking at ways to raise the funds needed to make the trip. There may still be a chance that the DECA board will allow them to participate if they can raise the money to cover their costs.

“To see the amount of effort that these three students put into the project, it was awesome,” said Ransom, who praised the three students for taking the initiative and pushing through the project.

“The experience was fantastic. I would do it again,” said Chowdhury.

“From writing the report to presenting it in front of professionals, it was amazing,” added Perinpanayagam.

“Now that we understand the process and the steps, next year we will do better planning, and give ourselves more time to fine-tune,” said Ransom, who hopes to grow the Neil McNeil DECA Chapter next school year.


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