As with any organization, SkillsUSA measures its success in many ways. But there’s no more powerful gauge for measuring the success of the SkillsUSA mission than to examine the accomplishments of our members, accomplishments that illustrate the positive difference that SkillsUSA involvement can have on a life.
Below you’ll find short synopses of many of these “success stories,” each one taken from the pages of SkillsUSA Champions magazine from 2002 to the present. There are students here from varied backgrounds with varied interests, but one thing binds them together: the positive, often life-changing effect that SkillsUSA has had – and continues to have – on their lives. Click on the “more” link in each piece to be taken to the full article.
Growing up, Ashley Klingberg never liked the police. After a traumatic experience made her reconsider her life choices, she applied the same discipline she had always used as a world-class athlete to her education. In the process, she changed her attitude and direction in life, a direction now pointing to a career in criminal justice.
On the day he joined SkillsUSA, Ben Falconer proclaimed he’d secure bragging rights as a gold medalist in the Automotive Refinishing competition. What SkillsUSA helped him achieve since that bold prediction has proven far more important, leading Falconer to a successful, rewarding career restoring some of the rarest, most expensive cars in the world.
Crystal Wright discovered an untapped reservoir of personal strength when she mustered the courage to share the painful details of her journey toward success. What she’s learned along the way has helped prepare her to lead through just about anything — including the unprecedented challenge of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
EvaMarie Downs operated a thriving business in the culinary arts field she loved, but the pandemic threatened to derail her dreams. Undaunted, Downs used what she’d learned as a SkillsUSA student to adapt her business to the current environment, ensuring that the immunosuppressed people she serves in her California county are living — and eating — well.
Jordan Packer is a world-class welder, a fact corroborated by his bronze medal at the 2022 WorldSkills Competition. “World-class” is far from where he started, however. First, he had to discover that reaching a place of true fulfillment often means navigating through confidence-challenging obstacles. Packer embraced the challenge, and his patience paid off.
The daughter of Colombian immigrants, Lizetthe Moreno understood the value of hard work at an early age thanks to her parents’ example. Driven by a desire to give back to the country that offered her family a brighter future, this SkillsUSA alum and soon-to-be-Marine has become a positive example all her own.
When the opportunity of a lifetime presented itself, Paravi Das didn’t hesitate to give it her all, but an unexpected crisis meant a temporary setback. Drawing on her talent, passion and determination, this singer, artist and SkillsUSA Virginia president put on her red jacket and continued reaching for the stars.
It’s fitting that Peyton Holland is the executive director of the National Technical Honor Society. After all, the inherent honor of the skilled trades was ingrained in him early on by his father. To reach his full potential, however, Holland would need more building blocks to success. He’d find them in a SkillsUSA masonry classroom.
“Being a chef is the most exciting profession you can be in, because you can create whatever you want out of whatever you have and make it look and taste good. And no one needs to know the difference.” Those insightful words from William Gorham apply as much to life itself as they do to his current “dream job” profession. In fact, at one time, Gorham’s life felt more like a nightmare.