By Chris Winters Herald Writer Herald Writer
Ria Montenegro was active in Lake Stevens High School’s DECA program, serving as the community chapter president in her senior year. She graduated with a 3.9 GPA, was a Running Start student at Everett Community College and plans to attend Western Washington University in the fall.
Question: Tell us about your experience in the DECA program.
Answer: I have been involved since the 10th grade, and I made it to the state competitions in my sophomore and senior years. In my junior year, I used the school store, the Cove, as the subject of my project. I did a presentation on best practices: buying, reselling, assessing quality of products, selecting vendors, operations, promotion, financial analysis. I learned all that in advanced marketing class, which I took last year.
Q: What about your senior project, that you took to state?
A: It was an entrepreneurship project. I designed a graphic design business that I want to create after college. It’s definitely something I want to do either during or after I graduate.
Q: You were also involved in student government.
A: I was Associated Student Body president junior year and secretary/treasurer my sophomore year, but not this year. Nope, I put my all into DECA. The thing about DECA is that what you put in determines what you get out.
We also did a fundraiser through my DECA Community Service Project for Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. In one minute — we called it the “miracle minute” — we raised $757. We sent that off to UNICEF. We had an assembly, got on the mic — we gave them time to get their change out, but the biggest difference was the parents, because they’d put 20s and 50s in there.
What’s nice about DECA is that at every conference we go to, it pays for a meal at a restaurant!
Q: And you’re also active in your church.
A: I’m a peer minister at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Marysville. I volunteer every Wednesday, participate in discussion groups, but I’m getting busy. My youth minister would text me, “Thanks for forgetting about us again.” I go to various retreats with them, too, which sucks because I’m not going to be there next year.
Q: How did you get interested in design?
A: Ever since I was younger I was interested in art. I took a digital design class my freshman year and fell in love with it. I’ve designed posters for school’s girls basketball team.
Much of the design work I have done is mainly for DECA. I have designed much of their apparel, such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, crewnecks. In addition, much of the work I did last year in DECA specialized in advertisement design for local businesses that purchased ad space in our annual DECA Enterprise, which gets sent out to 17,000 addresses.
I’ve been a Running Start student at Everett Community College, taking classes in typography, color theory and Web design. I’ve always been an artist. Many of the school planners I have had were filled up with doodles and such. My mother has a framed family portrait I made.
Q: Will you continue art studies at college?
A: I’ll study business administration with an emphasis on marketing and public relations. I don’t want to do graphic design at WWU. I want to do a degree in business administration. I might do some graphic design on the side. Graphic design is more portfolio-based than education-based. But I don’t want to spend my money on a graphic design degree.
Q: You’ve received some scholarship money for college this fall.
A: I was planning on going to Everett Community College, and also started an application to Western, but then the clock ran out. Financially, my parents can’t send me off to university. But the deadline at Western got extended and I was admitted with distinction, offering me $8,000 in scholarship money and tuition waivers. (She has received $13,500 in total scholarship money, including a $2,000 Lake Stevens Rotary scholarship.) I took out loans for the rest. I told myself, “If I can get the cheapest meal plan, because I’m a small girl … I can get a summer job and pay it off.”
Q: Tell us about your family.
A: I’m the first of my three sisters to attend college. Both my parents attended college in the Philippines. They’ll tell me they want me to go to college, but they didn’t push it. I had to sign up for my SATs. What’s nice is I can say I did it all myself, too. I don’t want to keep living at home.
Q: What else do you enjoy doing in and outside school.
A: I play the guitar. I’m in the guitar class. I skate, too. I have two small penny skateboards, little plastic things. And I like going out to eat.
Q: Have you been playing music long?
A: I’ve been playing guitar since February. I played ukulele for about a year, and I also have a keyboard so I can play piano. I didn’t want to play guitar … I mean, I really wanted to play, but I didn’t want to sing in front of everyone. They put a microphone in front of you in class and an amplifier and make you sing. But I like indie pop and rock: Bright Eyes, Deathcab For Cutie, Band of Horses — I saw them in concert in Seattle. Front row!
Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or firstname.lastname@example.org.