Mason FBLA members gain professional experience through State Presidency

Risha Chada | Staff Writer

Look out Bill Gates and all the business tycoons out there, some Mason High School (MHS) entrepreneurs are learning from you and hoping to use what they have learned to blaze their own paths in the business world.

Some of these young business leaders are getting a head start through the MHS chapter of the Future Business Leaders of American (FBLA). FBLA is an organization dedicated to exposing high school students to the field of business. The club exposes participants to over 60 competitive events, spanning from technology to public speaking. Members showcase their knowledge of these categories at the state leadership conference where they have the opportunity to advance to the national level.

For her future, senior Rhea Mehta knows she will either go into operations management and business analytics to become a management consultant, or explore engineering and eventually work toward a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Mehta believes that by participating in the public speaking competitions, she is refining skills that will help her in her future professional career.

Junior Nikith Vangala Ohio FBLA President 2021-2022

“For my event, I crafted a speech about the steps to [becoming] an effective leader, such as Bill Gates and other business tycoons,” Mehta said. “I spoke about what makes them so successful and since I want to become a business leader, researching about my topic, something I’m so passionate about, has definitely taught me [skills] I’ve been able to apply.”

Junior Nikith Vangala also feels that FBLA has taught him valuable skills for his future. Although Vangala is still unsure about what he plans to study in college,  he is confident that the skills he learned through FBLA and the connections he made will help him with a possible business-related career.

“Even if you don’t choose to do something with business or something related to that exact field, you still learn through communicating with other people,” said Vangala. “When [you] are presenting, talking to judges, and interacting with a lot of these soft skills, you kind of get the true benefits of FBLA.”

During the annual FBLA state presidential election, voting delegates from each local chapter witness the candidates’ speeches and cast their final vote over a five-day period. Once the State President is elected, he or she is tasked with developing the program for the coming year, designing an entire state conference, and leading and creating material for all of the state officer meetings. The student elected is faced with decisions that affect all of Ohio FBLA, providing an impactful student leadership opportunity.

Though the role of State President is open to students from high schools across the state, the past three winners have been MHS students.

Mason alum Tani Madichetti held the presidential position in 2019-2020, the current president is MHS senior Rhea Mehta, and on March 20, 2021, junior Nikith Vangala was elected President for the 2021-2022 school year.

Mehta held the position of State Parliamentarian last year and is the current State President as well as the current North Central Regional Vice President. She believes FBLA’s mission to provide business education opportunities to help students grow as individual and community minded business leaders aligns with her own goals of being a well rounded, responsible leader.

“With the pandemic, [I] had to rethink and retailor the initiatives I’ve worked on with my team because the projects, and even our State Leadership Conference, was virtual,” Mehta said. “As a national and state official [I have] developed a set of skills—whether it be problem-solving or strategic thinking—that I’ll use in the corporate world when I’m working with teams.”

Senior Rhea Mehta Ohio FBLA President 2020-2021

MHS FBLA advisor Lori Toerner has been with the club since its inception four years ago. She attributes its success to the students’ self-motivation and dedication to their work. Toerner believes that while the State President role is a huge accomplishment, the foundation for leadership is first built through gaining experience at the local level.

“Because every President has also led at the local level first, that has enabled them to improve their leadership skills and run the chapter,” Toerner said. “It’s a time commitment and these students show their [dedication]. It makes them qualified to run the entire state.”

The multitude of events, services, and paths that FBLA hosts have provided inspiration for Vangala. After 

running things at the local level, Vangala was inspired to take his role in FBLA further and take on more responsibilities.

“I thought there were just a lot of different things that we could do, and different ways we could branch out and interact with our members,” Vangala said. “I decided then that I might as well try running for state office because it seemed similar to what I was already doing, just at a bigger scale that impacted more people.”

FBLA has given unique skills to all of its presidents, and each will take something different with them as they progress. For Mehta, the relationships she has built during her administration and the legacy she will leave behind have impacted her the most.

“The network I’ve created in FBLA with my state advisors, state officer team, and every single FBLA member I’ve met along the way are the relationships I’ll take with me for the rest of my life,” Mehta said. “I hope Ohio FBLA and our Mason Chapter continue to participate in FBLA activities, attend conferences—even if they’re virtual—and find a sense of community within FBLA as I have.”