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For Lou Edna Musquiz, this year’s national Advisor of the Year, teaching and SkillsUSA are in her blood. Now she’s celebrating her silver anniversary of wearing red.

By Ann P. Schreiber

 Del Rio’s grand champion

Talking with Lou Edna Musquiz, you know almost instantly that she doesn’t mess around. Fueled by high-octane self-motivation, she sees problems as challenges and tackles them with earnest urgency.

When her hometown of Del Rio, Texas, was devastated by flood in 1998, Musquiz got busy right away organizing her students to find aid for victims. Contacting other SkillsUSA chapters in Texas, Musquiz’s troops quickly collected and distributed needed items. Her students distributed clothing at local civic centers, then also served as monitors of those facilities. School was closed for nearly a month, but her students were still able to complete all the necessary hours to receive their cosmetology certification.

An instructor at Del Rio High School, Musquiz has served as a SkillsUSA advisor for 25 years. This 2003 advisor of the year grew up on SkillsUSA, and it’s no reach to say she has red polyester in her veins.

It began when Musquiz attended cosmetology classes at a private school the summer before her senior year. That same year, Del Rio launched its own cosmetology program. She signed up.

“That year, my instructor was learning about SkillsUSA,” she says. “I remember her sharing information. We had to elect officers, and I was elected president of the afternoon classes.

“From there, the learning began. When I say it’s in my blood, it truly is, because I learned it alongside my instructor, and we were the only chapter at the time.” Talk about motivation — that year, Musquiz became a brand-new member, officer and a regional and state medalist.

“Don’t hold back. Join the organization, learn as much as possible and allow the rest of us to help.”

Now heavily involved in her community, her chapter participates in career day programs for local elementary schools, cleanup projects, nursing home visits and local anti-drug programs. SkillsUSA’s Professional Development Program is integral to Musquiz’s program and is cited as a huge factor in its success.

Described as dedicated, enthusiastic and caring, Musquiz focuses not just on the content of her classroom, but on the whole student. Her enthusiasm for continuous learning is contagious.

“A lot of people say you could make so much money on the outside,” she notes. But with teaching, “... when it’s in your heart, and you do have the patience and you do have a lot to share, and when you can see that all the information you share is put to use … I guess that’s why I teach. SkillsUSA has been literally my life, and it’s so exciting to have it be a part of nearly everything that I have undertaken.”

Musquiz, SkillsUSA’s Region 4 finalist for advisor of the year (the other regional nominees are featured on this page), has this advice for new teachers: “Don’t hold back. Join the organization, learn as much as possible and allow the rest of us to help.”

“It can be overwhelming,” she adds. “Many teachers think it’s only an after-school thing, and they’re not willing to give of themselves after school. Of course, a lot of the activities are, but in Texas we show them how SkillsUSA can be integrated within the classroom curriculum.

“This organization is so worthwhile. We need to keep it going. We’re all learning new things all the time.”

Region 2 Advisor of the Year
Wayne Frugé has been a SkillsUSA advisor for nearly 17 years. A veteran of the U.S. Army, Frugé left industry in 1974 to realize his dream of becoming a teacher, a dream he’s been living for the last 26 years as an industrial electronics instructor at Port Barre (La.) High School. Many of Frugé’s students have participated at nationals, earned medals and have served as state officers. He has received numerous awards, such as the SkillsUSA State Director Award. All of Frugé’s students participate in the Professional Development Program as well as various community service efforts. As part of the CLK program (Computers for Louisiana Kids), his students refurbish computers and install them in elementary classrooms.

On being the Region 2 advisor of the year, he says: “Well, I look at it as, it’s the students that got me here. And if I could, they would be getting this award. I guess like that eagle soaring up in the air, the students are the wind, and they deserve all the credit. If the wind’s not there, that eagle can’t fly, he can’t soar.”

Region 3 Advisor of the Year
Debra Monday has been a SkillsUSA advisor for four years. She is the postsecondary dental assisting instructor for Putnam Career and Technical Center in Eleanor, W. Va., and has achieved 100-percent SkillsUSA membership since 1998. She is also involved in numerous community service activities, such as a flood victims relief drive. To ensure her students know what will be expected of them when they graduate, she has them make presentations on oral hygiene at elementary schools, senior centers and civic organization meetings.

On being named Region 3 advisor of the year, Monday attributes her experience as a student member as being a key factor: “I feel that because I was able to participate [at nationals] in ’79, I learned that to get something, you need to work hard at it. Honestly, that year I could’ve probably put quite a bit more effort into it, maybe win a national medal. I didn’t realize the importance, and I try to help students realize that now — let them know that there are many opportunities out there.”

Region 1 Advisor of the Year
Mary Holben, a culinary arts instructor at Camden County Technical School in Sicklerville, N.J., has been a SkillsUSA advisor for 18 years. Holben was named teacher of the year at her school in 1994 and has received a certificate of excellence from the staff. Her SkillsUSA chapter visits the local senior citizens’ center and works with her area’s mental health association. Holben makes every effort to help her students find jobs in their chosen fields after graduation.

In the words of one of her colleagues, Holben is “an organizer, counselor, mentor and confidant not only to her students, but to those of us that call her ‘friend.’ ”

On being named Region 1 advisor of the year, she comments: “I believe that I fulfill the attributes of the pledge of SkillsUSA–VICA, and I try to live my life as the pledge states.”

Region 5 Advisor of the year
Bonnie Hardy teaches health occupations at Central High School in Cheyenne, Wyo. Hardy has been a SkillsUSA advisor for five years in a state association that has existed for seven. Her chapter has been represented at the SkillsUSA Championships for the past six years, with three medal winners, and has been named Wyoming’s outstanding chapter for the past four years.

Hardy introduced SkillsUSA to Laramie County Community College and has served as an advisor there for two years. Her chapter has been involved in a wide range of community service efforts.

On being Region 5 advisor of the year, she says: “I’m not sure what qualifies me, except I’m just an example of someone who is trying really hard to make sure that students get everything they possibly can out of their high school experience and that they’re being prepared to work in the workplace.”

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SkillsUSA Champions | Fall 2002 | Volume 37, No. 1
Copyright ©2002 SkillsUSA. All rights reserved.

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