The Three Pillars of BPA
By Madilynn Kieling, Historian
There are several components to BPA. Whether you participate in all of them or not, they are always available for members. Three main components, however, are competition, leadership, and service. These “pillars” are what makes BPA unique. As members, BPA provides many opportunities to better yourselves as both people and as employees for your future careers.
The first and largest pillar is competition. This is what makes BPA and we would not be the kind of organization we are today without it. The Workplace Skills Assessment Program (WSAP), developed by the Classroom Educators Advisory Council, is the method used for testing our skills. There are five categories, including Finance with events such as Fundamental Accounting or Personal Financial Management, Business Administration with events such as Fundamental Word Processing or Administrative Support Research Project, Management Information Systems with events such as Computer Network Technology or Network Administration Using Microsoft®, Digital Communication & Design with events such as Fundamentals of Web Design or Broadcast News Production Team, and Management, Marketing & Communication with events such as Small Business Management Team or Human Resource Management. There are options for both individual and team events, as well as different types of events such as testing, giving a speech or presentation, or demonstrating a concept, and within each category there are open events in which anyone can participate. These categories span almost the entirety of career possibilities within the current business world, and make up the widest and most comprehensive range of events within any career/technical student organization. BPA is truly the premier student organization when it comes to event options.
The second and slightly smaller pillar is service. The Torch Awards Program provides you with the opportunity to not only serve your community, but also learn more about BPA and its various aspects. There are seven torch categories, including Leadership, Knowledge, Service, Cooperation, Friendship, Patriotism, and Love, Hope, Faith. If you obtain 10 points in each category, you receive an Executive Award, given at the local level. Obtaining 30 points in each category allows you to receive a Diplomat Award, given at the regional level. 50 points in each category gets you the Statesman Award, given at the state level, and 70 points allows you to receive the Ambassador Award, given at the national level, and considered the most prestigious of the Torch Program. Receiving an Ambassador Award sets you apart as a member because it takes time and dedication to put together 70 points in each category. As an Ambassador recipient myself, I can say that it definitely was not easy to obtain all those points, but I truly believe that I became a better person from putting the time in to do those activities. Participating in the Torch Program will provide greater opportunities for you as a member throughout your time in BPA.
The third and final pillar is leadership. Leadership is at the core of every BPA activity you participate in during your time as a member. From participating in workshops at the Fall Leadership Conference to interning at the National Leadership Conference, learning leadership skills is at the forefront of each activity. Through these activities, we learn how to take charge of any group we happen to be a part of, as well as maybe even seeking additional leadership opportunities such as local, state or national office. As a state officer, I can tell you that running for state office was one of the best decisions I have ever made. BPA is rich with leadership opportunities, and they can be on vastly different scales. If you want to lead on a small scale, chapter office may be for you. If you want to lead on a bigger scale, you can run for state office, and if you want to lead on the largest scale, that is what national office is for. Our organization truly has something for everyone.
These three pillars are the largest parts of the organization, but there are also other aspects, such as special recognition awards like the Barbara Chambers Outstanding Advisor Award or the Merit Scholar Test/Award, or at the national level, BPA Cares Awards. These awards can be applied for through the state and national websites. However, the pillars cover almost all opportunities provided by BPA. Your time in BPA is what you make of it, so make your time mean something with these pillars, and we look forward to seeing how each of you make this year great!