Faustino Peña

For more than half his 86 years, Faustino Peña has been traveling from his Texas home to SkillsUSA’s National Leadership and Skills Conference.

It started in 1971, when Peña had an auto mechanics student who’d heard about the national event and wanted to compete. At that time, he didn’t have a chapter, “so we enrolled, and we came all the way to the nationals to the competitions,” the retired instructor remembers. After they came home and shared their stories enthusiastically, more students wanted to join.

For the most recent conference, Peña’s daughter, Anne Boleyn Hampton, attended with him. Their first order of business was showing up at the SkillsUSA Store and waiting for it to open so she could purchase an official red blazer.

“He wanted me to wear the uniform while I attended some meetings as his guest,” Hampton explains. “He was so happy to introduce me to all his peers. … I was 15 when he became an advisor, and now I get the opportunity to continue to do the work he loves.”

In Forth Worth, Hampton is an administrative assistant at the Erma C. Johnson Hadley Northwest Center of Excellence for Aviation, Transportation and Logistics at Tarrant County College. Her school’s director agreed to start a SkillsUSA chapter after listening to Hampton share stories about her dad and his passion for SkillsUSA.

Those stories include driving with students from Texas State Technical College in Harlingen to conference sites like Cincinnati, pulling over in parks to catch a little shut-eye. Retired since 1999, Peña now pays his own expenses to attend.

“He has always been dedicated to promoting SkillsUSA, helping the students learn and become responsible and successful citizens,” his daughter says.

“I have been with him when past students have come to him with such pride and happiness to see him and be able to share their success stories. That makes him very proud and happy to know he has done his job well.”