Capturing the Stories and Experiences of Iowa FBLA Alumni
Beyond the Blazer: Capturing the Stories and Experiences of Iowa FBLA Alumni
Every year, hundreds of students graduate from the High School and Collegiate divisions of Iowa FBLA, and take their leadership skills out to make their mark on the world. Since their time with the organization, our alumni are proving how their involvement in FBLA went beyond their time as a member, and how being a future business leader truly prepared them for the real world.
Welcome to the first installment of “Beyond the Blazer,” where we interview Iowa FBLA alumni to see what they’ve been up to since graduating, and how the organization they grew to love has played a positive role in their lives.
For our first installment, say hello to Iowa FBLA alum; Dana, Allie, and Rob!
Name: Dana Sublett
Involvement in FBLA:
High School State Secretary (2012-13)
High School State Vice President (2013-14)
Where did life take you after leaving FBLA?
I studied chemical engineering in undergrad and started my post-college career as a practicing engineer. Most recently, I graduated from Duke Law School with my JD in May 2023. I am currently working as a law clerk for a federal appellate judge in Washington, DC. This is only a one-year position, so when I have completed my clerking term, I will work at a law firm as an attorney specializing in patent law.
What do you think was the biggest benefit of being in FBLA?
I think one of the greatest benefits that I got from being in FBLA was the confidence to say "yes!" to new opportunities that were outside of my comfort zone. Whether it was public speaking at conferences, competing in new events, or networking during officer campaigns, FBLA constantly presented me with opportunities I hadn't faced before, while also providing me with the support and training from teachers and peers that I needed to be successful with these new endeavors.
Name: Allie Smith
Involvement in FBLA:
High School State Parliamentarian (2017-18)
Where are you currently at in life?
I am in graduate school for Mental Health Counseling and interning at a local mental health agency!
Do you think your involvement in FBLA contributed to where you are now? Tell us how!
I greatly credit my involvement in FBLA to where I am now. I learned how to form relationships with business professionals, as well as the skills to succeed in the professional world. If it wasn’t for my experience in FBLA, there is a good chance I wouldn’t have had the confidence and skills to attend graduate school and locate internships. I encourage every high school student to participate in FBLA, it is a great learning experience and you can make great friendships along the way!
What would you say was the greatest benefit you got from joining FBLA?
It’s hard to select the greatest benefit I gained from FBLA! From the confidence I gained in my own abilities, to the friendships I created along the way, FBLA was one of my favorite high school experiences. I was a shy, quiet freshman, but by the time I reached my senior year, I was confident in myself, and I gained the ability to articulate myself in a professional manner.
Name: Robert Kitchen
Involvement in FBLA:
Collegiate State President (2018-19)
Collegiate National Secretary (2018-19)
Tell us where you’re at in life, post-FBLA?
I am currently working as a civilian for the United States Army, on Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois. (Yes, it's an actual island, and no, I never knew it was an island until I got the job there!) My official role is a Data and Analytics Officer, which involves performing analyses and helping educate on analytical techniques.
What were some of the best things you got out of being in FBLA?
Aside from the friendships, memories, and travel, the greatest benefit to being engaged in FBLA was the volume of opportunities to go outside my comfort zone, in a safe space to fail. The leadership roles let me find my leadership style and taught me how to delegate. They taught me how to be a better people-person and influencer, which is incredibly valuable in the professional world. Competitive events created an enjoyment for healthy competition, which translated into improved work ethic. These things also came with tons of failures along the way, that translated into lessons like leading is full of ups and downs, not every choice you make is the best one, and you don't always take home the trophy.
Do you think your involvement in FBLA contributed to where you are now?
Without a doubt! FBLA refines those who actively engage in what it has to offer. It polishes your strengths and teaches you how to surround yourself with people that empower you. For me, FBLA took a kid who had no confidence, a questionable work ethic, and couldn't see his path forward, and produced someone who is very content with his career. As a bonus, all the workshopping, campaigning, and competitive events helped me get over my stagefright, which has led to a fun side-gig as a professional actor. I'm not very good, but you might see me in a Fareway commercial every now and then!