Torch Awards Program

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Torch Awards Program

by Nathan Lee, State President

Differentiate. You probably hear this word often in today’s society—whether it be companies trying to make their products unique or job-seekers trying to set themselves apart from hundreds of applicants. As students grow into adults, differentiation is critical for success. An early start on developing your brand can bring large advantages later on, and being involved with Business Professionals of America definitely sets you apart from others. However, there are still a multitude of students involved with BPA and other CTSOs. Now, what else can you do to differentiate yourself even more?

The theoretically perfect answer to this stress-inducing dilemma is to simply do more. However, most people struggle to translate this simple solution into action. They usually think too broadly and fail to recognize the smaller steps they ought to take. So, let’s minimize our situation to find the most accessible things we can do within our boundaries—which leads us to the Torch Awards Program.

The Torch Awards Program is designed to promote the well-roundedness of BPA members. By participating in the Torch Awards Program, you can not only get recognized at the Regional, State, and National Leadership Conference, but you can also differentiate yourself from thousands of other candidates who are applying to colleges and internships. The benefits you can attain from this program significantly outweigh the price you would be paying—literally and figuratively. On top of Torch Awards being completely free, you can earn a well-recognized State or National award for putting in only a couple hours of work to your Torch resume. Having this extra achievement adds on to your overall brand, and by completion, you will have already differentiated yourself from those who chose not to participate.

So how does the Torch Awards Program work, then? Torch operates through an online portal (http://www.bpa.org/service/torchsystem). After logging into the website using your BPA ID and password, participants click “add activity.” This leads them to a link where they can input experiences that pertain to one of the seven categories: leadership, service, cooperation, knowledge, friendship, patriotism, and love, faith, hope. Inputted activities of either 5, 10, 15, or 20 points will show up in a compilation called the Torch resume. BPA members can apply for Executive, Diplomat, Statesman, and Ambassador Torch Awards, which require 10, 30, 50, and 70 points respectively for each of the seven categories. Although this may sound time consuming, in reality, it is not. Because the deadlines for each Torch award submission is spaced out over the span of six months (November to April), participants will get a chance to go back to finish the resume as the year progresses. Also, the descriptions for each activity do not need to be five paragraph essays. For Torch graders are only looking for a proof that the participant completed the inputted activities, descriptions for each can be as short and concise as one or two sentences. If there is an image to be supplemented for the activity, it is always highly encouraged that participants add them. It is beneficial to keep in mind that people grading the Torch resumes are trying to understand whether the applicants deserve the award. Therefore, it is critical to have proper grammar, have proper spelling, and be truthful when filling out the resume.

Receiving Torch Awards is not difficult. The program is designed so that BPA members can take advantage of their prior experiences and expand their comfort zones through trying out new activities to log into their Torch resume. The most challenging part of Torch is taking the very first step. Therefore, when the school year starts, log into your Torch account. Once you get started, you will be well-off to differentiate yourself—to become a true business professional.

Maurice S. Henderson