Johnson City Schools is home to the nation’s first Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) program. Now, they are home to an FBLA National Champion. Class of 2022 Science Hill graduate Abbie Underwood brought home the school’s first national title, winning first place in the national Organizational Leadership category.
According to FBLA history, Science Hill had the first-ever high school FBLA chapter when it was chartered on Feb. 3, 1942. That was a fact that made Underwood proud. But she was even prouder to bring home what is believed to be Science Hill’s first FBLA National Championship.
“It just does not register to me right now,” Underwood said about winning the national championship in June. “I just didn’t expect to win. There were over 12,000 students at the conference and about 60 at my event. I loved the conference overall, just because I was able to network with so many people. I met someone from every state, so that was really neat.”
Underwood is now preparing to attend Clemson University’s Honors College in a few weeks. There, she plans on majoring in Biomedical Engineering and would like to design prostheses. Her interest to better understand prostheses is because her father has a pacemaker.
For a portion of the competition, Underwood had to take an objective test that identified different scenarios and the different leadership styles in organizations. In order to prepare, Underwood took a lot of practice tests. She also said her Science Hill schedule of 15 Advanced Placement classes helped prepare her for the different tests.
“I think they helped me a lot,” Underwood said. “Even in this competition, just the studying kind of mindset, because it’s 60 minutes to answer 100 questions. So, it was really fast-paced and similar to an AP exam. I think that really helped me.”
Underwood joined the FBLA during her junior year. Even though she doesn’t plan on pursuing a business major, she said she felt the skills were still worthy to learn.
“It just equips me, honestly, for years and years to come,” said Underwood about why she joined FBLA. “I’ve thought of pursuing an MBA too, so that definitely makes me more interested. It definitely equipped me to go out into the world.”
Underwood was also appreciative of the help she received from her sponsors and other club members.
“The FBLA sponsors and other members were so great,” Underwood said of FBLA sponsors Marsha Salyers and Mike Crumley. “It was really special to be a part of that family.”
Other Science Hill students who attended the FBLA National Conference included Maggie Jacobs (Database Design & Application); Sophia Stone (Introduction to Business Communication); Erik Liu (Supply Chain Management); Amanda Noe (Introduction to Business Concepts); and Britten Dugan (Economics).
While the summer is almost over, Underwood now has her sights set on college. But she won’t forget her foundation that was molded at Science Hill.
“I’m sad it’s over,” Underwood said. “But I’m also ready for the next chapter, and I feel like Science Hill really did prepare me.”