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BPA students to lead their state and national peers

MORRIS - This year, three students with the Morris Area Business Professionals of America team will be leading their peers at the national, state and regional level.

Junior Paige Loew was selected as a national youth leader for an upcoming summit on teen distracted driving, while seniors Kaylee Brandt and Dylan Curfman were elected to lead their region and state for BPA this year.

Last year, Loew was one of four students from Morris selected to participate in the National Organization for Youth (NOYS) summit on teen distracted driving. After attending the summit in Washington D.C., Loew and her classmates returned to Minnesota and hosted two additional summits on this issue.

Loew said she was really moved by the experience last year, and wanted to be involved again this year. After an application process, she was selected as one of 10 peer leaders who will help organize the 2012 summit and train other groups of teenagers to host local events on teen distracted driving.

"I wanted to make a difference - going back I have been moved and really excited to help other people realize the dangers of texting and driving," said Loew.

This fall, senior Kaylee Brandt was elected Minnesota Executive Secretary, one of six students elected to lead the statewide BPA program.

The election for a statewide office includes a test on BPA knowledge, interviews with BPA staff and community members, and a campaign to win votes from student voting delegates. The officers are elected based on student votes and chosen for their position based on their responses to the interviews and other criteria.

Brandt said she knew she wanted to run for a leadership position with BPA since her first year in the program as a sophomore.

"A lot of the state officers have been metro before, and I wanted to move it more outstate so we were getting a say on what's happening," said Brandt. "I think we've made one of our strongest teams yet.

A big part of Brandt's responsibilities will be to help organize and run the state BPA conference in March. Throughout the year she will also participate in trainings with other BPA students and reach out to local chapters to make sure things are going well.

Senior Dylan Curfman has also been elected Region 7 President, where he will oversee the state's largest BPA region and help organize the regional competition in Alexandria in January. Students in BPA will compete at the regional competition before potentially competing at state.

Region 7 is made up of students from 10 schools in West Central Minnesota, and is the largest of the state's eight regions.

"I really like BPA, and after serving as the chapter president this year and last year, I wanted to step outside and expand my role in BPA, and I thought the region was a good step-up for me," said Curfman.

This year is the third year for the Morris Area BPA organization, which includes 85 members. Loew, Brandt, and Curfman credit the organization's success to the enthusiasm of their advisor, Jenny Maras, and the fact that the program appeals to a variety of students.

"Ms. Maras has inspired so many people to join into the program and is turning out a lot of business majors to go out into the world as well," said Curfman.

BPA students also work to give back to the community. Through Tuesday, Nov. 20 they are hosting a food drive at Morris Area High School for the Stevens County Food Shelf. Third hour classes are competing against one another to get the most points from food and monetary donations.

Last year's food drive raise about 1,500 pounds of food and several thousand dollars for the food shelf, and the students hope this year will be equally successful.