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Senior qualifies for national conference

Jun. 07, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

WINFIELD -- If the American dream is entrepreneurship, then a Winfield High School senior has a head start in achieving that dream.

Luke Bowles is one of 10 Winfield High School students who qualified for the 2013 Future Business Leaders of America National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, Calif., later this month.

While 10 students qualified, only a handful plan to make the trip to California.

"Only five or six of us are actually going," Bowles, a senior who will be graduating June 6, said.

In order to qualify for the national conference, Bowles had to prove himself on the state level at the FBLA State Conference in Charleston.

In addition to scoring well on tests, FBLA members also had to provide some real-world savvy in the form of a marketing plan.

"We were given a company that had a catalogue," Bowles said. "I had the idea to change sales for the company from a catalogue to a Website and use social media. Younger people are buying from the Internet and we focused our sales on that."

It worked. Bowles and partner Kalie Ferrell took home first place in the Marketing category and punched their tickets to Anaheim. The second place team was also comprised of Winfield students.

Bowles said they'll face a similar format in California.

"It's the same scenario at nationals," he said. 'We'll have a day of testing and a day of presenting."

The Winfield FBLA has been working to raise money to help offset the costs of traveling across the country. First place winners have their hotel paid for at nationals, but second place finishers also qualify but don't receive the benefit of a paid room. Also, the cost of traveling to California is up to the individual qualifiers.

"We had a car wash and raised about $400. But that will barely pay for one person," Bowles said. "We had a night at Bob Evans where, I think, it was 10 percent of sales were donated."

The students have also gone out to local businesses seeking help to pay for the trip.

All this work should help Bowles when he starts working toward a degree at Marshall University.

"I'll be studying business management," he said. "Marshall offers a master's degree in five years, so I'm going to work on that. I'm also going to minor in entrepreneurship."

If any person or business would like to help the Winfield FBLA with going to nationals, they're encouraged to contact the high school.

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