Davenport’s Business Professionals of America members celebrate success at National Leadership Conference

Davenport University’s Business Professionals of America (BPA) chapter members returned from the National Leadership Conference (NLC) with some serious bragging rights.

The competition, which was held in Chicago, showcased the exceptional talent of various collegiate BPA chapters from across the nation. 

Davenport’s 14-member delegation, led by President Jesse Ward and Vice President Dawson Hamming, emerged as a formidable force in the competition. Davenport scored an impressive 14 first-place victories, eight second-place finishes, six third-place finishes and secured 50 top-ten finishes. 

“Davenport’s impressive performance at NLC showcases our members’ dedication to excellence and highlights the caliber of talent fostered within our chapter,” said Randi Koogler, Davenport’s BPA chapter co-advisor. “Their success reflects positively on the university’s commitment to nurturing future business professionals and leaders,” she said.

Ward has been involved in BPA for the past three years and joined at the request of his cousin, Corbin Hunter. Ward had been dabbling in graphic design as a hobby, while Hunter had been doing the same with web design. The pair thought it would be fun to team up to test their skills at BPA local, state and national competitions. 

“Corbin and I did not go to the same school growing up but ended up at the same college. Being able to compete on the same team has been awesome,” said Ward. “I really enjoy the friendships I’ve formed through BPA and am glad to have had so many opportunities to participate in events with students from across the country, to volunteer, to explore new avenues and to challenge my abilities,” he said. 

Ward is pursuing a BSN and hopes to work in a pediatrics unit after he graduates in 2025.




Hamming became involved in BPA at an early age. His father, Keith, was a high school chapter advisor and let his young son tag along when they went to competitions and other events. It was this early exposure to the organization that led Hamming to join BPA in high school. 

“I grew up around BPA and enjoyed going on the trips, so of course, I wanted to be part of it when I got to high school,” said Hamming. “I really valued the personal connections and friendships I made through BPA in high school, which is why I continued my involvement when I got to Davenport,” he said. 

Hamming said he loves attending BPA conferences and participating in competitions, but what he enjoys most is meeting new people and making memories. Some of his fondest memories of BPA include his brother, Kaden. 

“It’s been fun to experience BPA with my brother,” said Hamming. “I guess you could say BPA runs in our family! I love being involved in such a great organization. It’s amazing to win at the national level and to know I’ll be able to advance my career because of the experiences that BPA provides,” he said. 

Hamming graduated with a bachelor’s in cyber defense in April and is thankful that BPA gave him the opportunity to gain leadership experience and time management skills and earn five certifications, all of which are great additions to his resume. 


According to Koogler, Matthew Gaydos and Corbin Hunter emerged as standout performers for the Panthers at the NLC, both securing first-place positions in five events and earning the most top-10 finishes. Gaydos is thankful for the connections he has made while being involved in BPA and said winning first place for the website design team this year has been extremely gratifying. 

“This year was a step up for me,” said Gaydos. “I tempered my expectations but exceeded even what I could have imagined this year. As this is my third year in BPA, I have been able to see my growth objectively by competing,” he said. 

Gaydos looks forward to the next BPA national conference in Orlando and hopes others will join him for the experiences only BPA can offer.

Gaydos is pursuing a bachelor’s in computer information systems with a concentration in programming and will graduate in 2025.


Hunter said BPA has been extremely beneficial as it allowed him to practice real-world web development skills while in college, and placing in events looks great on his resume. He credits the project-based experience he gained from BPA for helping him land an internship and his current role as a software engineer at Credit Karma, LLC.

 “It feels great to have done well this year, especially in web development-related events,” said Hunter. “A lot of effort went into some of the projects, and it was great to see it pay off and to end my time with BPA on a high note,” he said. 

Hunter graduated last year with a bachelor’s in computer information systems, with a focus on web and mobile development, and is currently taking classes to add the cybersecurity certification to his degree. 

Koogler said that BPA is a fun and competitive way to bring high-achieving students together to build confidence and grow into future leaders in areas related to finance, administrative support, information technology, management, marketing and human resources.

“I am passionate about BPA because it helps our students get ahead in their chosen fields and develop crucial problem-solving skills,” said Koogler. 

Koogler invites any Davenport student in good standing to become a member of BPA. To learn more about BPA, click here. To learn more about Davenport’s BPA chapter, contact Koogler at rkoogler@davenport.edu.


National Leadership Conference first-place finishes: 

Corbin Hunter, Jesse Wars, Matthew Gaydos, Ian Neal

Website Design Team


Corbin Hunter

Fundamentals of Web Design- IT Specialist HTML and CSS

Meetings & Event Planning Concepts

Management, Marketing & Human Resources Concepts

Project Management Concepts


Dawson Hamming

Database Applications- Microsoft Office Specialist Access 2019 Expert


Jesse Ward

Graphic Design Promotion


John Clayton

C# Programming- IT Specialist Software Development

C++ Programming

Python Programming- Pilot-IT Specialist Python


Matthew Gaydos

Database Fundamentals-IT Specialist Databases

Computer Programming Concepts

Digital Communication & Design Concepts

Digital Marketing Concepts


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