VHS senior to take sales skills to world stage

Published 3:19 pm Monday, March 10, 2014

A Vicksburg High School student will be one of Mississippi’s representatives at the 2014 International Career Development Conference.

Evelise Ross, an 18-year-old senior, won first place in the Hospitality and Tourism Professional Selling Event at the DECA state competition in Jackson last week, earning her trip to Atlanta where she will compete against other winners from across the world.

“I’m nervous and excited at the same time,” she said. “But I’m ready.”

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DECA is an international association of high school and college students and teachers involved in business, finance, hospitality and marketing sales and service. The organization prepares students to become leaders in those fields.

Ross is the president of the local chapter.

Last week, six students from the Vicksburg Warren School District competed at the state competition after qualifying in the district competition earlier this year.

Students answer a slew of questions, participate in workshops and play out scenarios in their respective fields with judges evaluating how they perform in several areas, such as customer service.

Ross, now in her third year with the local DECA chapter, said she was overwhelmed when she found out she’d won her division at the state competition.

“It was really exciting,” she said. “There were four of us on stage and I was nervous because I felt like I didn’t do too well on the written test.”

After the second place student was named, Ross said she began celebrating to the point that local chapter instructor, Donna Cook, had to remind her to keep from jumping off stage.

Ross got a treat when she was announced as the winner at the state competition held at the Marriott Hotel in Jackson.

“My grandmother is the banquet manager there and she came running down the aisle,” Elise said while laughing.

Ross said she hopes to parlay those skills into a career as a restaurant owner and caterer.

That, she said, would be a perfect fit for her unique skill set that includes a penchant for cooking as well as the ability to sell a product.

“It’d be both sides,” she said. “Hopefully we have a building to work out of and also have the catering business.”

Ross, the daughter of Evelyn Ross-Barnes and Willie Barnes, said she practices her skills at home as well as school.

“I like to experiment in the kitchen,” she said, adding that seafood pasta is her go-to entree.

For her business though, the selection would be more eclectic.

“It’d be mainly southern, but a little authentic food,” she said. “I do a little bit of everything.”

Regardless of what she ends up doing, Ross said

“It got me out of my shy box,” she said. “It gave me a look into how to treat people as far as being professional and courteous. It’s been a great help. I don’t know where I’d be without DECA.”