Shelton student making strides in business world as club’s state president

Lenni Paolini is already making tracks in the business world — while she’s a junior at Shelton High School.

Lenni was recently named the president/CEO of the Connecticut state chapter of DECA. She oversees many things, including the upcoming fall leadership conference.

“It’s a lot of responsibility, but I’m up for the challenge,” she said.

DECA, an international student organization previously known as the Distributive Education Clubs of America, seeks to “prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.”

'A way to learn and grow'

“DECA is a way to learn and grow” in the business field, Lenni said. “It provides so many opportunities. It really introduced me to the business world.”

She hopes to major in business, with a connection to fashion, when she goes to college.

Lenni joined the SHS chapter of DECA during her sophomore year at school. She won the statewide post during the 60th annual DECA State Leadership Conference on Feb. 27.

Speeches and references

She said the process of running for the post took a while. There were speeches to make, a seven-page application to finish, special approvals to be obtained from the headmaster and advisers, and more.

“Lenni put her heart and soul into her campaign and in DECA activities,” said SHS Headmaster Beth Smith in a press release. “We congratulate her on this wonderful accomplishment and wish her the best of luck next year.”

Although Lenni doesn’t officially become the head of the state chapter until next school year, she has already been talking to her staff daily and learning the ropes of what will be expected of her. She will meet her state officer team of students once or twice a month but they will email or text all the time.

“I was definitely excited,” Lenni said, of learning she would be the next state president. “I worked on that application for two months. I learned a lot about myself.”


The SHS DECA chapter currently has about 30 students. Lenni said one of her goals is to make that number higher. The biggest chapter in the state is somewhere near 200 members.

She said she would like her fellow classmates to see that networking even with other students in other schools is beneficial. “You can build business relationships,” Lenni said.

Bottom line is, “DECA looks good to colleges,” so it’s a good idea to have that on your application, she said.

Road race will benefit charity

Lenni is helping to get people to the April 5K in Meriden, where DECA is hosting the event to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which is the organization’s charity of choice. All DECA chapters from the state will be there.

“It’s definitely a fun day,” she said. The event runs from 11 to 3.

Swim team, school volunteer

Lenni has her plate full. Besides her duties with DECA, Lenni will be the captain of the swim team next year. She also volunteers for the Booth Hill after-school Spanish club.

Soon, she will attend the International Career Development Conference in Anaheim, Calif. She will also be attending an officer training session, and is seeking help from the community to fund the trip. She has been asking local businesses and selling lollipops so far to help. Lenni said DECA can be a costly endeavor, but what she’s learning from it makes it worthwhile.

Joining DECA costs $20, and includes local and state membership.

For more information, visit To make a donation to the SHS chapter, email