As 850 well-dressed high school students bustled around her at the Campus Recreation Center, Kellsie Howard paused for a moment to remember when she was in their shoes.

The students were there for an event that Howard, a sophomore business major, helped put together: a district conference of DECA, an international organization that prepares high school and college students for business careers and entrepreneurship through conferences and case-study competitions. Howard participated in DECA for three years as a high school student in Georgetown, Mass., an experience that inspired her to enroll in the Manning School of Business.

“It’s great to host this event because we’re such an up-and-coming business school,” says Howard, whose concentrations are in finance and management. “Having 850 students from all over the area come here for this conference, then go back to their schools and talk about it, that’s great word of mouth.”

To make sure students got the most out of their visit, Howard recruited 18 of her Manning School peers to volunteer at the event and answer questions. She also worked with Undergraduate Admissions to organize campus tours that were scheduled around the DECA activities.

“We got good feedback from the tour groups,” says Howard, who was surprised that campus tours weren’t offered at the colleges that hosted the competitions she participated in as a high school student.

As a work-study student, Howard has been an assistant in the Manning School Dean’s Office for more than a year. So when Dean Sandy Richtermeyer needed someone to manage all of the logistics, she didn’t have to look far.

“Kellsie knew how the event should run from her high school DECA experience, and she used her leadership skills to start planning and reaching out to all of the people who needed to be involved,” Richtermeyer says. “She did a fantastic job.”

While Manning School students started a campus chapter of Collegiate DECA five years ago and had some success in national competitions, participation in the club has waned. Thanks to Howard’s efforts, it has now been revived.

“I wanted to bring it back and get a lot of students involved,” says Howard, who is also chief marketing officer for the Finance Society and works 20 hours a week as an investor service representative co-op at Putnam Investments in Andover.

She also found time to start another new student group, Manning Women in Business. Working with visiting instructor Elissa Magnant and Susanne Ferrara, an administrative assistant in the departments of management, finance and marketing, Howard has been busy reaching out to similar organizations at Harvard, Boston University and the University of Connecticut for guidance and interviewing student applicants for club board seats.

“We want to empower, diversify and help women find a voice in the classroom,” says Howard, who anticipates the club officially launching in the fall of her junior year.

Oh, and Howard was also one of 18 Manning School students to travel to Omaha, Neb., in February for a question-and-answer luncheon with billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

Hearing Buffet talk about investment strategies and his charitable work affirmed Howard’s career plans. “It made me realize that choosing the path of a finance career was the best thing I could have done,” she says.