Sioux Falls, SD
These days, a moment of solace is rare for Lincoln High School senior Carter Christensen. As he walked through his school's hallways, students left and right were high fiving him and yelling out his name.
That paled in comparison to the greeting that met him when he walked into his Economics class. His classmates and teacher gave him a standing ovation while the song, "Hail to the Chief" played.
The new International DECA president is still processing his first few days. He had a whirlwind campaign and election at the international convention Anaheim, California.
"I definitely did have a Red Bull or two during the trip just to keep up," Christensen said.
Christensen is the first president from South Dakota and the first from the state to even run. His campaign began on Wednesday at the convention and was elected on Saturday.
The organization has about 200,000 high school and collegiate members worldwide and prepares students for careers in business, marketing and financing; and puts a big emphasis on community involvement.
In the few short days of the convention, Christensen had to meet about 450 voting DECA delegates. He beat five other candidates.
"I was up against some candidates from some states with 20-25 voting delegates and South Dakota only has two voting delegates. I didn't think my chances were likely to win," Christensen said.
It is proof that emerging leaders in South Dakota can be found right in our classrooms.
"I'm incredibly proud of Carter," Christensen's DECA Advisor Michael Jones said. "On a broader scale, South Dakota far exceeds what people would think South Dakota students accomplish. We just have phenomenal students."
Graduation is in just a few weeks and Christensen won't have much time to relax. He will defer his freshman year of college, but a busy schedule awaits.
"It's not just I'm taking a year off to take a year off. I'm going to be taking the year off and I'm going to be traveling and trying to work with different states to move them forward and try to make a difference," Christensen said.
He will not have much quiet time, but he said he is ready for the lively moments ahead.
"I tell you what, this past semester has just been absolutely insane. I think senior year has just been the fastest year of my life. It's probably been the best year of my life so far. I'm excited to experience this next year," Christensen said.