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New National Officer Team Ready to Go to Work for You

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They’ve survived the grueling election process. Written speeches. Dealt with tough questions. And then, maybe the hardest part: 15 individual leaders made it through a week of intense training to become a cohesive team. Your new national officers are already fanning out across the country to support SkillsUSA. Was it worth it? Yes! But each of them has a different answer why.

By E. Thomas Hall

“SkillsUSA has changed my life drastically,” says BRITTANY MOON, high school division president. “It has made me more of a leader, more independent, more able to work in a group.” A public safety student at Virginia Beach (Va.) Technical and Career Education Center, she plans to get a college degree in psychology and work for her city police department.

CAMERON THOMAS, high school vice president at large, studies criminal justice at Townview Law Magnet in Dallas. His goal is to become a prosecuting attorney. To Thomas, SkillsUSA “has basically meant leadership,” he says. “After being a member and going through the training and things like that, I’ve learned so much from this organization.”

An engineering student at Waunakee (Wis.) High School, high school secretary KELSEY MEHLHOFF wants to work as a speaker in the health professions, helping to promote new technologies. “SkillsUSA has been an opportunity for me to grow as a leader and to become a far better communicator,” says the future biomedical engineer.

High school treasurer ALEXANDRA ROTTA, who’s in graphic design and marketing at Meridian (Idaho) Technical Charter High School, hopes to open her own firm after getting her master’s in business administration. If not for SkillsUSA, “I would not have been able to give a public speech or talk to people or communicate well. I was very shy,” she says.

“My SkillsUSA membership has meant a lot: a lot of experiences, a lot of friends, a lot of exposure to the business world,” says high school parliamentarian MARKEL GUIDRY. An electronics technology student at Port Barre (La.) High School, he’s set his sights on the U.S. Naval Academy, with a career goal in systems engineering.

Although he’s enrolled in culinary arts, Region 1 Vice President MATTHEW HALE wants to be an aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps. “My SkillsUSA membership has meant success to me,” says the student from Forrest Career and Technology Center in Leonardtown, Md. Case in point: Hale is an official candidate for the U.S. naval and military academies.

BRIAN LUCKETT, Region 2 vice president, is a TV production student at Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount, Va. He plans to go to law school and then on to politics. “Without SkillsUSA, really, I wouldn’t be able to expand on what I already know,” Luckett says, “and SkillsUSA’s taken me to the extra level that I need to do what I want in life.”

She’s a criminal justice student at Eastland Career Center in Groveport, Ohio, but JUSTINE MORGAN wants to be a kindergarten teacher. Why? “I’ve grown up caring about everyone else before myself,” explains the Region 3 vice president. “SkillsUSA has given me so many more opportunities and has made me such a confident person.”

“It’s just given me the feeling of self-worth,” ISABEL SOTO replies straightforwardly when asked about her SkillsUSA experience. “I became a ward of the state when I was 2 years old, and I was adopted when I was 10.” Now Region 4 vice president, Soto studies drafting at Hanna High School in Brownsville, Texas. She plans to start her own architectural firm.

From Kofa High School in Yuma, Ariz., comes SkillsUSA’s Region 5 vice president, a welding student whose goal is to build his own engineering company. Yet it was SkillsUSA that “rebuilt” him, says DUSTIN MARTINEZ, after getting involved in his freshman year. “It’s meant that I’ve been able to not only better my life, but also the people around me.”

President of the college/postsecondary division, JAY DESMOND studies both hospitality and computer science at Southern Maine Community College and the University of Southern Maine in Portland. SkillsUSA means developing “as a leader, as a manager even at this level,” he says — handy whether becoming a programmer or a hotel owner.

Majoring in automotive technology and service management at Pittsburg (Kan.) State University is the latest achievement for CASE CLOUGH. In high school, he set the record for most credits in technical education. Now, as college/postsecondary vice president, he credits SkillsUSA with opening “numerous doors” of opportunity, including employment.

ZACHARY FERGUSON, college/ postsecondary secretary, says “SkillsUSA is building me up to become what I can be and what I have the potential to become.” He has a high calling: the priesthood. “I love helping people,” adds the Web technology student at Caldwell County Career Center in Hudson, N.C. “That’s what I like about SkillsUSA.”

“My SkillsUSA membership has meant just about everything,” says college/postsecondary treasurer GILBERT VALLEZ, who’s starting his seventh year in the organization. “I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Which at the moment is Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif., his first step in becoming a licensed architectural engineer.

Another student from Mount San Antonio College is the national college/postsecondary parliamentarian. “It’s meant change. It’s meant progress,” architectural drafting major KEVIN GRIENDLING describes SkillsUSA. “What it means to me is the idea that I can be someone who I’ve looked up to in the past. I can become that person.”

SkillsUSA Championships Gold Medalists for 2008

3-D Visualization and Animation: Austin Johnson/Edgar Hernandez, C-4 Columbus North High School, Columbus, Ind.; Adam Banks/Isaac Nordlund, Utah Valley State College, Orem, Utah

Action Skills: Natasha Keller, Claiborne High School, New Tazewell, Tenn.; Frederick Asam, Caribou (Maine) Regional Applied Tech Center

Advertising Design: Brittany Barrett, Caddo Career Center, Shreveport, La.; Emily Ralph, Hennepin Technical College, Brooklyn Park, Minn.

American Spirit: (teams) Bergen County Vo-Tech School, Hackensack, N.J.; Manatee Technical Institute, Bradenton, Fla.

Architectural Drafting: Andrew Grafeman, Lewis and Clark Career Center, Saint Charles, Mo.; Ryan Kowalski, Macomb Community College, Warren, Mich.

Audio Production: Abby Covell/Zack Keirsey, Benson Polytechnic High School, Portland, Ore.; Albert Mitchell/Gary Sevison, Utah Valley State College, Orem, Utah

Automated Manufacturing Technology: (teams) Niagara Career and Technical Center, Sanborn, N.Y.; Somerset (Ky.) Community College

Automotive Refinishing Technology: Derek Schatz, Bismarck (N.D.) Technical Center; Gregeory Anderson, Idaho State University College of Technology, Pocatello

Automotive Service Technology: Matt Albanese, Beaufort-Jasper Academy for Career Excellence, Ridgeland, S.C.; Eric Leach, Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Aviation Maintenance Technology: Steve Ellebracht, Gateway Institute, St. Louis; Daniel Fantoni, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Williamsport

Basic Health Care Skills: Cynthia Glennon, York (Pa.) County Area Vo-Tech School

Broadcast News Production: (teams) Central Kitsap High School, Silverdale, Wash.; University of Texas at Brownsville

Building Maintenance: Dustin Stanley, Indian Capital Technology Center, Stilwell, Okla.; Daniel Trent, Western Technology Center, Burns Flat, Okla.

Cabinetmaking: Mason Sandow, Blackfoot (Idaho) High School; Justin Van Loo, Hennepin Technical College, Brooklyn Park, Minn.

Carpentry: Mike Gibson, Coshocton (Ohio) County Career Center; Mike Eroh, Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades, Media, Pa.

Chapter Business Procedure: (teams) Lawrence County High School, Lawrenceburg, Tenn.; Utah Valley State College, Orem, Utah

Chapter Display: (teams) Bethlehem Area Vo-Tech School, Northampton, Pa.; Central Georgia Technical College, Macon

CNC Milling Technology: Andrew Alvares, Diman Regional Vo-Tech High School, Fall River, Mass.; Ryder Carson, Idaho State University College of Technology, Pocatello

CNC Turning Technology: Jonathan Veneziano, Polaris Career Center, Middleburg Heights, Ohio; Josef Schwarzer, Romeo Engineering and Technology Center, Washington, Mich.

Collision Repair Technology: Timothy Bouillon, Sentinel Career Center, Tiffin, Ohio; Phil Davie, Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Commercial Baking: Nicole Hart, Paso Robles (Calif.) High School; Tomomi Miller, Central New Mexico Community College, Albuquerque

Community Service: (teams) South Johnston High School, Four Oaks, N.C.; Columbus (Ga.) Technical College

Computer Maintenance Technology: Christopher Kennedy, Limestone Career Technology Center, Athens, Ala.; Kyle Clarke, North Central Kansas Tech College, Beloit

Computer Programming: Nathan Kodilla, Grayson Technical High School, Loganville, Ga.; Jon Bartosch, Texas State Technical College, Waco

Cosmetology: Brittney Lewis, Mecosta Osceola Career Center, Big Rapids, Mich.; Abby Opdyke, Hunterdon County Polytech Central, Flemington, N.J.

Crime Scene Investigation: (teams) Lakeview Centennial High School, Garland, Texas; Griffin (Ga.) Technical College

Criminal Justice: Holly Groover, Centennial High School, Roswell, Ga.; Bruce Payne, Heart of Georgia Technical College, Dublin

Culinary Arts: Daniel Clark, Martin County High School, Stuart, Fla.; Nathan Child, Spokane (Wash.) Community College

Customer Service: Demi Fong, Bergen County Vo-Tech School, Hackensack, N.J.; Samantha Cohen, Northwest Cabarrus High School, Concord, N.C.

Dental Assisting: Rachel Janes, Stephens County High School, Toccoa, Ga.; Lyndi Hayden, Center for Technology, Essex Junction, Vt.

Diesel Equipment Technology: Rick Finley, Des Moines Area Community College, Ankeny, Iowa; Kyle Yoder, Guilford Tech Community College, Jamestown, N.C.

Electronics Applications: Adam Geml, Henry Ford II High School, Sterling Heights, Mich.; Alexander Stevenson, Parkside High School Career and Technology Education Center, Salisbury, Md.; Ben Mellott, Linn (Mo.) State Technical College

Electronics Technology: Hayden LeJeune, Port Barre (La.) High School; Russell Fredericks, Truckee Meadows Community College, Reno, Nev.

Employment Application Process: Ashley Newland, East Hickman High School, Lyles, Tenn.; Brian Roberts, Lamar Institute of Technology, Beaumont, Texas

Engineering Technology: (team) St. Helens (Ore.) Senior High School

Entrepreneurship: (teams) Whittier Regional V0-Tech High School, Haverhill, Mass.; Manatee Technical Institute, Bradenton, Fla.

Esthetics: Jenny Mejia and Frances Kemble, Manatee Technical Institute, Bradenton, Fla.

Extemporaneous Speaking: Anthony Mitchell, Davis High School, Kaysville, Utah; Kathy Murray, Technical Educational Center Osceola, Kissimmee, Fla.

Firefighting: Grant Barton, Modesto City Schools Regional Occupational Program, Ceres, Calif.; Chad Brunner, Manatee Technical Institute, Bradenton, Fla.

First Aid/CPR: Margarita Luna, Davies Career and Technical High School, Lincoln, R.I.; Zack Stroup, Manatee Technical Institute, Bradenton, Fla.

Food and Beverage Service: Erica Conrad, Washington County Technical High School, Hagerstown, Md.; Allyson Pereira, Bristol Community College, Fall River, Mass.

Geospatial Technology: David Jacobs, Central New Mexico Community College, Albuquerque

Graphic Communications: John Litwinowicz, Royal Oak (Mich.) High School; Mayda Salas, Riverside (Calif.) Community College

Health Knowledge Bowl: (teams) Pioneer Career and Technology Center, Shelby, Ohio; Uintah Basin Technology College, Roosevelt, Utah

Health Occupations Professional Portfolio: Adriene Antoni, U.S. Grant Joint Vocational School, Bethel, Ohio; Brittany Jackson, Manatee Technical Institute, Bradenton, Fla.

Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration: Jacob Dullen, Niagara Career and Technical Center, Sanborn, N.Y.; Jerrad Porter, Lewis-Clark State College, Lewiston, Idaho

Industrial Motor Control: Shane Vanzant, Miami Valley Career Technology Center, Clayton, Ohio; Ryan Fitzgerald, IBEW 99 School, Cranston, R.I.; Jess Bormann, Northwest Iowa Community College, Sheldon

Internetworking: Gabriel Cornman, New Market Vocational Skills Center, Tumwater, Wash.; Kinzie Doll, Metropolitan Community Colleges, Kansas City, Mo.

Job Interview: Alaina Wilson, Orleans Career and Technical Educational Center, Medina, N.Y.; Katherine Jones, Ozarks Technical Community College, Springfield, Mo.

Job Skill Demonstration A: Emily Gloss, Franklin County Career and Technology Center, Chambersburg, Pa.; Bobby Orsburn Jr., Golden Triangle Vo-Tech, Mayhew, Miss.

Job Skill Demonstration Open: Autumn Ferry, Sun Area Career and Technology Center, New Berlin, Pa.; Jennifer Schroeder, Utah Valley State College, Orem, Utah

Major Appliance Technology: Luke Adkins, Manatee Technical Institute, Bradenton, Fla.; Brandon Nelson, Dunwoody College of Technology, Minneapolis

Marine Service Technology: Rob Lowell, Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, Harwich, Mass.; Dale Caughorn, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Gautier

Masonry: Bradley Wright, Earnest Pruett Center of Technology, Hollywood, Ala.; Alvaro Landaverde, Arizona Masonry Contractors Association, Phoenix

Mechatronics: Robert Dougherty/Alexander Segala, McCann Technical High School, North Adams, Mass.; Randy Hansen/Adam Wiechmann, Alexandria (Minn.) Technical College

Medical Assisting: Alyson Aguiar, Greater New Bedford Regional Vo-Tech High School, New Bedford, Mass.; Stephanie Sablan, Guam Community College, Barrigada

Medical Math: Crystal Simmons, Bossier Parish Technical School, Shreveport, La.; Kyle Cornish, Salt Lake Community College, Salt Lake City, Utah

Mobile Electronics Installation: Alexander Super, St. Clair Technical Education Center, Marysville, Mich.; Rosendo Torres, East Los Angeles Occupational Center, California

Motorcycle Service Technology: Zach Cole, Four Rivers Career Center, Washington, Mo.; Neil Murphy, Fort Scott Community College, Frontenac, Kan.

Nail Care: Pamela Henry, Mecosta Osceola Career Center, Big Rapids, Mich.; Randi Huntsman, Salt Lake Community College, Salt Lake City, Utah

Nurse Assisting: Christian Jo Velez, Barry Career and Technical Educational Center, Westbury, N.Y.; Brittney Haga, University of Arkansas, Fort Smith

Occupational Health and Safety/Multiple: (teams) Manatee Technical Institute, Bradenton, Fla. (both high school and college/postsecondary divisions)

Occupational Health and Safety/Single: (teams) Harris County High School, Hamilton, Ga.; Manatee Technical Institute, Bradenton, Fla.

Opening and Closing Ceremonies: (teams) Westwood High School, Austin, Texas; Salt Lake Community College, Salt Lake City, Utah

Outstanding Chapter: Brandy Gregg/Rebecca Canterbury, Buckeye Hills Career Center, Rio Grande, Ohio; Christopher Dillard/Jason Stone, Manatee Technical Institute, Bradenton, Fla.

Photography: Justin DiPierro, Myers Educational Center, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; Haoyuan Ren, College of Southern Nevada, North Las Vegas

Pin Design: Casey Solt, Sullivan South High School, Kingsport, Tenn.; Cinday Derreberry, Putnam Career and Technical Center, Eleanor, W.Va.

Plumbing: Kyle Covello, Paso Robles (Calif.) High School; Richard Martin, Utah Valley State College, Orem, Utah

Power Equipment Technology: Theo Clay, Berks Career and Technology Center, Leesport, Pa.; Ken Mauer, Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton, Wis.

Practical Nursing: Julie Hinkel, Wayne County Joint Vocational School, Smithville, Ohio; Suzette Burkhalter, Louisiana Technical College Sullivan Campus, Bogalusa, La.

Precision Machining Technology: Nicholas Shepley, St. Clair Technical Education Center, Marysville, Mich.; Ryan Watson, Boise State University, Idaho

Prepared Speech: Thomas Lewis, Francis Tuttle Technology Center Rockwell Campus, Oklahoma City; Elizabeth Sitzman, Eastern Wyoming College, Torrington

Preschool Teaching Assistant: Jordan Hill, Lycoming Career and Technology Center, Hughesville, Pa.; Mary Stoklas, Gwinnett Technical College, Lawrenceville, Ga.

Principles of Technology: Audria Grubbs, Pioneer Career and Technology Center, Shelby, Ohio; Kevin Miller, Texas State Technical College, Waco

Promotional Bulletin Board: (teams) Sullivan South High School, Kingsport, Tenn.; Metro Technology Center – South Bryant, Oklahoma City

Quiz Bowl: (teams) Union County Vo-Tech, Scotch Plains, N.J.; Francis Tuttle Technology Center Portland Campus, Oklahoma City

Related Technical Math: Adam Clarke, Benson Polytechnic High School, Portland, Ore.; Karen Swartz, Central Community College, Columbus, Neb.

Residential Wiring: Ryan Gorski, Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Area Vo-Tech School; Ryan Risseeuw, Mitchell (S.D.) Technical Institute

Robotics and Automation Technology: Brian Joseph/Christopher Hansen, Minuteman Regional High School, Lexington, Mass.; Chris Hall/James Kaiser, Vincennes University, Indiana

Screen Printing Technology: Andreas Wenzel, Sammamish High School, Bellevue, Wash.; Katie Boyts, Ozarks Technical Community College, Springfield, Mo.

Sheet Metal: Kyle Baker, Jefferson Scranton High School, Jefferson, Iowa; Brian Green, Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College, Ogden, Utah

TeamWorks: (teams) Sparta (Ill.) High School; Salt Lake Community College, Salt Lake City, Utah

Technical Computer Applications: Danilo Miranda, Burlington County Institute of Technology, Westampton, N.J.; Chris Grasty, College of Lake County, Grayslake, Ill.

Technical Drafting: Bennett Minchella, Platt Technical High School, Milford, Conn.; Markus Couch, Stevens College of Technology, Lancaster, Pa.

Tech Prep Showcase: (teams) Ashtabula County Joint Vocational School, Jefferson, Ohio; Greenville (Ohio) Senior High School; Kettering-Fairmont High School, Kettering, Ohio; Manatee Technical Institute, Bradenton, Fla; Millstream Career and Technology Center South, Findlay, Ohio; San Benito (Texas) High School; Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School, Bridgewater, N.J.

Telecommunications Cabling: Phillip Haasenritter, Spotsylvania (Va.) Career and Technical Center; Cody Dahl, Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Wadena

Television (Video) Production: Kha Do/Jonathan Dickson, Cactus High School, Glendale, Ariz.; Doug Nordin/Colton Tran, Utah Valley State College, Orem, Utah

Total Quality Management: W.E. Stebbins High School, Riverside, Ohio (two teams)

Video Product Development: Yanina Gonzalez/Nicholas Neufeld, Birdville Independent School District Career Center, Haltom City, Texas; Ron Pokracki/Zack Harris, Cape Girardeau (Mo.) Career and Technology Center

Web Design: Michelle DeLarge/Amanda Norman, Carson High School, Carson City, Nev.; Sheri Humphrey/Luan Railsback, Illinois Central College, East Peoria

Welding: Neil Marshall, Niagara (Wis.) Public Schools; Mason Winters, College of Eastern Utah, Price

Welding Fabrication: (teams) Midland College, Texas; College of Eastern Utah, Price

For a full list of gold, silver and bronze medalists, including teams of three or more, visit:

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SkillsUSA Champions | Fall 2008 | Volume 43, No. 1
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