“If you dream, you can achieve ... if you believe.” Alex Abrahantes was inspired to make this quote his mantra as a member of SkillsUSA. That attitude, and the professional development training he received in SkillsUSA, helped him turn a dream job into reality.
After surviving the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, Julia Abramova and her family moved to the United States to start a new life. Through her involvement with SkillsUSA, Abramova learned she could make a difference.
Julissa Antigua, Anthony Tarantino
and Samantha Roccapriore
While "if it's not broken, don't fix it" is good advice in most situations, state legislators weren't listening in regard to technical education - until a group of students stood up in defense of their school.
Ho Yin Au
An immigrant from Hong Kong at only 9, Ho Yin Au now owns two successful businesses and speaks four languages. The technical and leadership training he received as a SkillsUSA member helped guide him every step of the way.
Complications during surgery caused high-school student Karmen Ayres to not only lose the feeling in her legs, but also many recent memories. One thing she did retain: her drive to be a SkillsUSA national officer.
Matthew R. Barthel
On any given day, Matthew Barthel may be setting up remote communications with a SWAT team, making adjustments to a communications tower atop a skyscraper, or working on equipment on a tropical Pacific island. Learn how Barthel’s experiences in SkillsUSA helped prepare him for the demands and responsibilities of a job with the FBI as an electronics technician.
As Miss Massachusetts Teen USA, Brooke Bibeault shares her sash and time at many charity events. Her giving "110 percent" led to a role in a major motion picture.
Tom Boyer, Niki Clausen, Jacob Donnelly
While studying abroad in France and the U.K., these three students put the leadership skills they learned as SkillsUSA members to the test ... and passed with flying colors.
Larrisa Brown, Kaitlyn Duarte and Rachel Kagan
The energy generated by a SkillsUSA competition team spawns an invention that may help solve a problem for two industries.
Tyler Brown has loved airplanes most of his life, so a career in aviation maintenance was inevitable - until he decided to combine it with electronics, computers and (of course) flying.
Meagan Parker and Megan Toms
Step behind the doors of a federal research facility where the most dangerous viruses reside. Your guides? Students who are interning there.
How can you juggle school, sports, student government, choirs and musicals while battling a serious illness? Meet Kate Campbell, who isn't one to back away from a challenge.
Tawanda Campbell, Debra Hancock, Diana Lopez, Margaret Mosher, Teresa Slack, Sandy Uffelman
"We've battled going through losing family members, trials and errors, financial things," says one of six women who, in joining SkillsUSA, went beyond learning teamwork to becoming lifelong friends. Meet them and the director who brought them together.
Karen Carbajal and Josefina Plata
It's a long journey for anyone to become a medical doctor, but with confidence, compassion and dedication, students such as Josefina Plata and Karen Cabajal are taking it in stride.
Years ago, Diego Carvallo earned a stay in a youth detention center. Now he's earned a spot on SkillsUSA's national officer team, the admiration of his family, and a future full of promise. Find out how he made this remarkable turnaround.
From living in a car to working on cars, from possessing poor English skills to delivering speeches at the U.S. Capitol, SkillsUSA member Noemi Castro has surpassed all expectations — including her own.
Joel Chan and Stella Elder
Crossing the ocean to a new life, Stella Elder and her son Joel Chan bridged differences through career and technical education — and the SkillsUSA Championships.
Kim Cioni and Karyn Hawthorne
Earning SkillsUSA's highest individual honor can be compared to a long race to the finish line. For two sisters who made it to the end, giving up was never an option.
Casey Clayton and Amanda Moreno
With an overabundance of positivity on hand, students Amanda Moreno and Casey Clayton have started their own efforts to share what they've gained with others. Using their success as a guide, see how a few short tips can mean long-term benefits.
While many of his fellow students were begrudgingly working minimum-wage jobs, Anthony Cofield was already on his way to gaining real-world work experience in a field that he loved. “SkillsUSA made me appreciate the value of the workforce so much more,” he says.
Jamie Colby and Kacie Vanasse
Under the tutelage of dynamic SkillsUSA advisor Scott Thomas, Jamie Colby earned two national medals in Architectural Drafting and has designed a house plan currently in use by Habitat for Humanity. Kacie Vanasse’s SkillsUSA experience with Thomas led to her hiring by Maricopa County in Arizona to help make new maps of the city. Learn more about the difference SkillsUSA has made in all of their lives.
Melissa Cracknell and Emerson Curtis
For young women like Melissa Cracknell and Emerson Curtis, a firefighting career isn't about gender. It's about helping people, learning how to make good split-second decisions and being a team player.
A brainy student recounts how focusing on a career put her in the line of fire before she met an unlikely ally. Find out how SkillsUSA members are uniting against this growing problem in our schools.
Everett Crosby wanted a job, so he took classes in residential wiring and joined SkillsUSA. He never imagined what he learned would land him an engineering career that would take him across the ocean and back.
A former high school dropout, Anthony Daniels found a new lease on life in his 40s when he returned to school and joined SkillsUSA. Since then, he’s more than made up for lost time. “I want to tell the world about SkillsUSA,” he says.
Looking for answers about his adoption left Nick Daddona unhappy with his life. After changing careers and finding his birth mother on a Mohawk reservation, he’s helping relieve others of their pain.
Turning a profit while protecting the environment may sound like a conflict of interests to some. But it's a job that blends the best of both worlds for Kevin DiMartino, who says he learned to believe in himself through SkillsUSA.
Ashley Dixon and Charles Young
In their own words, student leaders Ashley Dixon and Charles Young tell about the moments when their lives changed forever and how SkillsUSA’s training helped them along the way.
“SkillsUSA is building me up to become what I can be,” says Zachary Ferguson, “and what I have the potential to become.” Learn how this student started a foundation to serve his community and spread the message of nonviolence in the wake of his own personal tragedy.
Surrounded by gang violence, an 11-year-old boy could only dream of getting on a boat like his coastal neighbors. Today, this young man's thoughts are on building boats and a family life, thanks to a new creed.
Born to farming peasants in Uganda during the brutal reign of Idi Amin, Francis made it to the U.S. through amazing circumstances. He discovered SkillsUSA at the Tulsa Technology Center in Oklahoma and credits the organization with helping him “plug up the holes in my character.”
Chris Gabler designs award-winning Web pages. Without using his hands. His story is an inspiration to everyone he meets.
The transformation from student to leader often starts with joining SkillsUSA. For state high-school president Brian Garcia, adapting to many upheavals at a young age made him an early expert on leadership.
Miles George, Paloma Limas and Madelyn Vallejo
For these students from the Lone Star State, their future is big and bright in the creative industries.
A reformer in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education credits SkillsUSA with giving him leadership skills and a reason to stay in school.
When Sharon Gordon’s son asked for a go-cart, she decided to build it herself. This led to a career and life change as Gordon returned to school, joined SkillsUSA and learned to, as she says, “be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Holly and Rickey Groover
SkillsUSA is often described as one big family:
a support system that helps its members realize their full potential. But what sorts of things happen when an already supportive family takes a very active role in the organization? In the case of the Groovers, amazing things — from overcoming physical challenges to making major achievements, all in a quest to serve others.
This star football player from the University of Michigan credits his time in SkillsUSA with teaching him how to be professional and a leader, both on the field and off.
A culinary arts student at Johnson and Wales University, Heim’s “experiences and personal traits,” many of which were developed through his membership in SkillsUSA, landed him on a Food Network reality show.
Tanner Hicks, Victoria Slagle
and the Sandow Brothers
Meet two sets of siblings: one on the way to a contest dynasty and another that took different paths to high achievements.
A slip of the hand cost John Hills the gold medal at the WorldSkills Competition in Switzerland, but his real prize was what he learned along the way. “The skills I picked up are what carried me through,” says the successful software engineer.
For an ex-Marine in Texas, the perfect way to help honor fallen troops was creating a welded sculpture. Its imperfections made it even more powerful.
Adaptive devices gave legally blind student Jacob Hudson the ability to compete in Internetworking. A caring instructor gave him the motivation to excel in a career.
Once bullied and shy, this student is stepping back into the spotlight. Now he's making SkillsUSA history.
Carlos Jones Sr., Carlos Jones Jr.,
Lillie Mack Mosley, Arlan Penner
SkillsUSA’s National Leadership and Skills Conference always promises to be bigger and better every year. Find out how four conference veterans make it their personal best.
“I came into [SkillsUSA] four years ago with no self-esteem, no self-confidence, and I was scared of the world,” Katherine Jones says. “Here it is four years later, and I’ve got 13 awards. I’ve competed in several different contests. This organization means the world to me. It has molded my future and has taught me that I can be somebody great.”
A young man tells his own story of picking up the pieces of a shattered life and using them to spread a message of hope.
Amanda Laird-Kern, Melissa Sabolcik, Amy Yang
Moved by a tragedy in an instructor's family, students are bringing a serious and painful issue into the light – and showing their peers how asking for help can be a sign of strength.
“I’m a walking billboard for career and technical education,” says Carolyn Kimbrel, “because without that, I wouldn’t know what I want to do.” This future nurse practitioner has found her passion through her involvement with SkillsUSA, and it’s a passion she’s more than eager to share.
Being every successful student, there’s an inspiring teacher. Meet SkillsUSA advisor Chris Land, who inspired his exceptional engineering technology students to build an award-winning submarine.
The results of a new welding technique developed by this former SkillsUSA member are now circling the planet every few minutes. As the senior staff manufacturing engineer at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Dallas, Texas, Ernest Levert credits his SkillsUSA training with helping him to handle the huge responsibilities his job entails.
Kendra Lisec and Corey White
Talented performers Corey White and Kendra Lisec treat music as their craft. Find out what they've heard in SkillsUSA.
At the end of his junior year, Phillip Marzocco left home due to serious family problems and wound up sleeping on some flour sacks at the bakery where he worked part time. Becoming a member of SkillsUSA shortly thereafter led to a full scholarship to Johnson and Wales University, a culinary arts career, and an incredibly unique baking school where Marzocco provides education to the people of Guatemala.
Amazing feats in the face of incredible odds may make Virginia Mata seem like a superhero. But in this petite but powerful package, there's a lot more going on than meets the eye.
When college student Shanna McClure suddenly heard a different calling than dental school, her career and technical training enabled her to alter course without major setbacks.
As a Navy fireman/damage controlman on the USS Oscar Austin (a guided missile destroyer), Sarah McCready credits the teamwork skills she developed in SkillsUSA with allowing her to reach her true potential.
Meet Shreela McFaddan, a construction management student who's knocking down preconceptions in almost every way possible.
Serving three decades as an instructor, Frank McSherry was ready for a new life. He got one. Now, after developing an entire program, “I intend to continue teaching for as long as possible,” he says.
Whether it's on the football field or at school, Josie Monarch has her eye on the goal, and that includes her career objectives.
Stanley “Stosh” Morency grew up with sixsiblings in a household where funds were limited but learning was bountiful. See how this electronics student went from loving to take things apart to learning to put them together as a member of SkillsUSA.
Searching to find his way out of poverty, Moreno battled with negative thinking and low self esteem until he joined an electrical technology course as part of SkillsUSA. There, he developed “leadership, professionalism and a fond enthusiasm for learning.”
Living on the run in the midst of civil war, Patience Noah lost her enthusiasm for school. It took a long physical and emotional journey to regain a belief that all things are possible. “Because of SkillsUSA, I renewed my passion for education,” she says. “I saw that maybe it is possible to go beyond what you think you can do.
Jake Newman was like so many high school students: unsure of what he wanted from life and less sure how to figure it out. But in an unexpected instant, he found what he’d been looking for in SkillsUSA.
A 17-year-old was struck by the sights of war-torn Uganda and its young victims. Her concern soon led to traveling there herself to make sure their story is told.
Nick Peterson took advantage of his SkillsUSA training to become one of the best welders in the world, evidenced by his medal-winning effort at the WorldSkills competition. Now a member of industry, Peterson is more active than ever in SkillsUSA. “SkillsUSA is a great tool to tie education and industry together,” he says.
A SkillsUSA student officer 20 years ago, Rick Peterson set his sights on becoming a leader. Throughout his successful career, he’s never let go of that vision.
Redirecting his energy, Julian Plowden quickly went from class cutup to the top of his class. He was even honored by the president of the United States. The best part is, you can be, too.
Getting ready for an international contest took years of training and deep determination for Chance Pollo, but he made it, crediting his success in large part to his SkillsUSA experience.
A once troubled teen member of an Iowa juvenile home, Polson discovered SkillsUSA and a sense of self-worth through a unique community service project that turned her life around.
"A lot of my peers are still in college and are deep in debt," says Crystal Pruskowski. "I have no debt, work in the world and have been to places they've never dreamed of." Find out how SkillsUSA helped this cosmetology student excel.
Suzanne Raposo’s strong work ethic and thirst for exploring new opportunities — qualities she developed as a SkillsUSA member — have yielded incredible results. From escaping poverty to becoming college valedictorian and a highly-skilled CNC operator, Raposo’s story so far is one of not only overcoming the odds, but demolishing them.
If you can't stand the heat, you definitely want to stay out of Kristina Rice's kitchen. Yet for this chef and food stylist, the hectic pace of a 24-hour shopping channel provides the perfect recipe for life.
Jonathan Reyes always had a vivid imagination. But even he never imagined the powerful potential within himself that SkillsUSA and a special instructor helped him to realize. "Technical students have [found their passion],"
Reyes says, "and that leads to success."
Campaigning on Capitol Hill for career and technical education. Receiving invitations to the White House. Finishing her homework on time. It's all just another day in the life of this student who refuses to settle for “normal” in any aspect of her life.
This SkillsUSA member from Brownsville, Texas, is involved in everything from the National Honor Society to athletics to acting and singing. She credits SkillsUSA with, among other things, helping her develop the time management skills to “do it all,” and her future plans are as promising as her present accomplishments are impressive.
Chef Kevin Sbraga personifies the wisdom of the "if at first you don't succeed" rule. Whether competing in SkillsUSA or on reality television, he burned some fingers before tasting victory.
Lives are marked by milestones: the good (like graduations and weddings) and the not so good (separations and heart attacks). LaManda Slover experienced them all in little more than a year.
Burrel O. Smither, Jr.
This former SkillsUSA member once competed in the TV Repair contest. Now, he supervises an electronics technician program and maintains all radio communications for the FBI in the state of Indiana.
A rough start in life gave this young man his fighting spirit. Learning to take the fight to the right place was another story. It all came together in a place called Faith.
Traveling the world has inspired Melanie Stansbury to learn hands-on skills so she can help communities become self-sustaining. “If you want to change the world, you have to have skills,” the SkillsUSA member says.
Many have dreamed of being part of a Major League Baseball team. One young man found his baseball career through a path to the grounds of legendary Fenway Park, a path that he paved with SkillsUSA’s help.
“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 and member of the U.S. Naval Academy says. “SkillsUSA provided the guidance I was searching for.”
A world-champion javelin thrower, Colleen Turner has conquered many other male-dominated areas — before graduating from high school.
Never one to sit on the sidelines, Stephanie Usry was forced to give up athletics by a series of injuries. But after finding a new team in SkillsUSA, she became more active than ever on a brand new playing field.
Diagnosed with dyslexia, Brittany Velez spent years in special education. Now the high-school senior is at the top of her class. Find out what led to this personal 180-degree turnaround.
Once Wendy Venturini realized what she wanted to do in life - and how to get there - she put the pedal to the metal until her goal was in the rear-view mirror.
Protecting buildings from earthquakes and children from bullying are two goals student Kevin Waita has brought here from Kenya.
With too many challenges at home and not enough at school, many students would fail. But with a caring SkillsUSA advisor, this one excelled — and the bond they forged endures to this day.
Abandoned to a Russian orphanage, Max Waterhouse wasfalling behind, left to live with much younger children because of his small size. A fortunate twist of fate brought him to America and the only family he's ever known. Now he's towering over his peers in terms of professionalism.
In search of a better education, Nick Wettee left his war-torn country for America. Looking within himself, he's found the confidence to fulfill his dream of helping others back home.
This young aviation maintenance technology student is flying high above his peers as he works to earn his pilot’s license ahead of schedule. Wetzler credits SkillsUSA with making him a “safer, more efficient pilot.”
Visiting the world's most turbulent places as a member of the U.S, Army, Jon Wilson found his life forever altered. But when he came back home and decided to study criminal justice, this SkillsUSA member realized that his life was about to change again — for the better.
“Because of [SkillsUSA], I was able to stand up there [at my ‘American Idol’ audition] and have poise,” says Warren Zentz, recounting one the most exciting moments of his life thus far. While he didn’t make it to Hollywood, he did make it to Kansas City, Mo., where he performed the national anthem for 15,000 at SkillsUSA’s national conference.