Hannah Peterson was a home-schooled seventh-grader when she first visited the Delaware Area Career Center.

Hannah Peterson was a home-schooled seventh-grader when she first visited the Delaware Area Career Center.

There, she learned the school's digital design and networking students participated in competitions staged by the Business Professionals of America.

That motivated her to enroll in the center's program.

Now she's a senior, and she just took second place out of 49 competitors in the graphic-design division of the BPA's national contest, held May 1-5 in Anaheim, California.

DACC digital design instructor Josh Gallagan said the school's digital design, app development and networking students are required to participate in BPA-sanctioned local and regional competitions.

This year, 25 qualified for state competition and 15 were invited to the national competition, entered mostly in project- and presentation-based events.

Peterson's project involved designing a poster for the BPA's national convention in 2020 in Washington, D.C.

The poster incorporates images of circuitry into the background and into drawings of the U.S. Capitol and White House, with the slogan "The Future is Now" in bold 3-D lettering. Peterson delivered a six-minute presentation on the project during the competition.

She began work on the project last fall, she said. It took four months to prepare the first version, with several more months of work following between the regional and national competitions.

She began by brainstorming ideas on paper before developing a digital version with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects.

One goal, she said, was to integrate the poster into BPA's style and branding, an effort that required specific research.

This was her second year at the BPA nationals, she said, and one thing she has gained from the experience is her "public speaking and presentation improved immensely. ... It's probably the most important thing I gained from the competition."

She plans to use that experience in the workplace by starting her own advertising and design firm, one that benefits and protects consumers.

In an age when a person's internet habits are exploited by advertisers using bots and algorithms, she said she wants "to work with companies to advertise without taking advantage of consumer privacy (and) exploiting their data.

"Some companies don't realize the impact they have on consumers (who) know their data is being used. ... They are being tracked," and many are uncomfortable with the experience, she said.

While "artificial intelligence is a buzzword (and) no one is thinking forward about the possible impacts," she said digital tools can be used in ethical and responsible ways.

Peterson remains home-schooled in academic subjects. She lives in Delaware with her parents, Hans and Julie Peterson.

She plans to attend the Modern College of Design in Kettering on a scholarship next year, studying advertising design.

Other DACC students who took part in the national competition are:

* Reese White, Brian Whitesel, Madison Dyll and Kasey Runyon, taking fifth place out of 34 video production teams;

* Matt Hanks, Bryce Dietrich and Lee Morris, taking ninth place out of 21 computer animation teams;

* Rachel Gaddie and Casey Campbell, placing in the top 10 in virtual multimedia promotion;

* Khang Van, placing seventh out of 31 contestants in 3-D computer modeling; and

* Jada Millisor, Delta Clark and Devin Mantz, placing 13th out of 33 web design teams.

Headquartered in Westerville, the Business Professionals of America supports business and information technology educators by offering co-curricular exercises based on national standards, Gallagan said.

It has more than 1,800 chapters across 25 states and Puerto Rico, he added.