Bend High senior all business

DECA president Zoe Raiter heads to Arizona to study business

By Megan Kehoe / The Bulletin

Zoe Raiter, 18

Bend High School senior

GPA: 3.8

Activities: DECA president, student council member, tennis captain

Favorite movie: “Hot Rod”

Favorite TV show: “Grey’s Anatomy”

Favorite book: “The Truth about Forever” by Sarah Dessen

Favorite musicians: Taylor Swift, Death Cab For Cutie

Zoe Raiter likes watching commercials.

She likes reading magazine and newspaper ads.

And she loves reading billboards.

The Bend High School senior knows it’s unusual.

“I know it’s kind of geeky and weird,” Raiter, 18, said. “I mean, who’s passionate about business at 18?”

The answer, obviously, is that Raiter is. Naturally drawn to all things business- and marketing-related, Raiter is president of DECA, the school’s business club. She is also captain of her tennis team and a leader on the school’s student council who has dedicated countless hours to community service projects.

Raiter has qualified for and competed at the national DECA competition twice during high school for business projects. She also helped the DECA program, which was recently named the largest chapter of the organization in Oregon with 160 students, obtain an enthusiasm and spirit award at the state convention this spring.

“DECA has been a huge part of my life,” Raiter said. “It kind of forces you to grow up if you want to be part of the business world.”

Raiter became involved with the organization her sophomore year. The first project she worked on, a project based on Oregon State University’s football team promotions, earned her a ticket to the national competition in Salt Lake City, where she and her project partner placed in the top 20 in the country for the sports and entertainment promotional planning category.

Her junior year, Raiter’s business project promoting a family-friendly sports restaurant earned her a trip to the national competition for the second year in a row. Raiter, along with her project partner, had to create an entire promotional strategy for the establishment, including radio spots, billboard designs and other advertisements. She said she particularly enjoyed competing and doing well in a category she said is usually dominated by boys.

“We were two girls talking about football,” Raiter said. “No one saw it coming. And we were able to pull it off.”

Raiter said being president of the chapter this year has taught her an enormous amount about managing people and delegating tasks.

One of the things that makes Raiter stand out is that although she’s eager to talk about her successes, she’s not afraid to talk about her defeats. Raiter, who played all season last year on the varsity volleyball team, was benched this year when another player edged her out of her position on the team.

Raiter said it was one of the hardest things she’s ever overcome but that it was a valuable learning experience.

“I worked hard, but the skill just wasn’t there,” Raiter said. “I was really down about it for a while. But it taught me a lot about myself. I learned that you don’t always get what you want, but that you can’t just get down about it and give up. You have to come back and be there for your team anyway.”

This kind of attitude is something that makes Raiter an outstanding student as well. “She lights up the classroom,” said Douglas Brown, Raiter’s Advanced Placement government teacher. “She’s an incredibly positive influence on other students and on the mood of the class.”

Brown said Raiter also stands out for the way she treats her fellow classmates and Bend High staff.

“Most kids at this age can be sort of narcissistic and self-absorbed for the most part,” Brown said. “Zoe isn’t like that at all. She’s very considerate and conscious of other kids.”

Raiter’s next stop is Arizona State University, where she will enroll in the college’s business school. She plans to major in business and wants to go into event planning or sports marketing as a career. Raiter said the lessons she learned in Bend High’s marketing program will stay with her as she graduates and moves into a new phase of her life.

“It made me realize that working really hard and making sacrifices is worth it,” Raiter said. “I stayed behind every day after school and worked in the back of the class for those DECA projects. I would have rather gone to the pool with my friends, but I realized that I had to put that aside to reach my goal.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0354, mkehoe@bendbulletin.com.