There’s a song that goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Elias Tello knew where he wanted to go, but he needed a little help to find the way.
Elias Tello was looking for something. The problem was, he didn’t exactly know what. “I was a good kid with direction, but I needed more. I had a lot of potential, but I needed someone or something to show me how to get to where I wanted to go,” the Dallas native says. “I needed to learn how to achieve the goals and dreams that I had set at a young age.”
Luckily, as a freshman he met Severo Perez (profiled here), a SkillsUSA advisor who spoke to Tello’s criminal justice class.
“I was hooked,” Tello says. Soon after getting involved in SkillsUSA, he found that he also had a mentor. “Mr. Perez challenges his students not only in the classroom, but in all aspects of their life,” Tello explains. “I am a better person because of it. You won’t find many of Mr. Perez’s students who don’t consider him like a father. I never make a big decision without consulting his expert advice.”
SkillsUSA provided “the guidance that I was searching for,” he adds. “I wanted to tap into the world of work. I wanted to know what it was like to be a professional, particularly in law and law enforcement.”
Before long, Tello was flexing his leadership muscles. “Not only was I learning, but I soon began to lead and realized that I was hooked. I wanted to be good at what I did and then help others do the same.”
As a SkillsUSA national officer, he spent a year helping others in 2004-2005. After graduating from Townview Law Magnet, Tello was offered an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
Today, Midshipman Tello feels right at home at the academy. “I live in a world surrounded by the idea of becoming a great leader in every aspect of the word,” he says. “For me, this is not a new concept. SkillsUSA immersed me in leadership.
“They call the academy the ‘leadership laboratory,’ and this is exactly what it is. It allows midshipmen to make decisions and reflect on them. The objective is to learn by realizing what works and what doesn’t. I can’t count the number of times that I have been ahead of the game because of SkillsUSA.”
Now in his sophomore year (or a “youngster” in academy lingo), Tello applies his leadership skills by mentoring/training the freshmen, or “plebes.”
After graduation, he plans to enter the U.S Marine Corps. As an academy graduate, Tello will go in as an officer. After that, he would like to work for the FBI or CIA. His long-term goal is to run for public office in his home state of Texas.
He’s quick to give credit for his achievements at the academy: “My SkillsUSA experience is why I was accepted, and it is the reason I am still there.”
SkillsUSA Champions | Summer 2008 | Volume 42, No. 4