Beatriz “Bay” Dedicatoria

When asked about her 4.0 high-school GPA, Beatriz “Bay” Dedicatoria nonchalantly says she “really tries.” Considering that this former state SkillsUSA officer is also a repeat state medalist and national competitor, she’s not only trying, she’s succeeding.

The student became interested in SkillsUSA in a roundabout way. A former classmate from her native Philippines moved to Edmonton, Alberta, and became a member of Skills Canada. Dedicatoria thought, “I want to do that, too.”

After talking with a SkillsUSA officer at Creek Wood High School in Cleveland, Tenn., Dedicatoria became a member of the chapter there. She embraced the leadership component immediately but admits to an initial struggle with public speaking: “I get really nervous and have stage fright.”

Hard work and perseverance soon helped the student become more comfortable in front of crowds. “I’m actually beginning to love it. I like the attention,” she says with a smile.

Embracing this new skill, Dedicatoria was elected as SkillsUSA Tennessee president for the 2015-16 school year. She soon found that being a leader meant facing additional challenges.

Relating as a leader

As a necessity, “I learned how to deal with conflict,” she says. “I was really bad at it at first because I didn’t want to confront problems. I wanted to be the nice person.”

Following a friend’s advice, Dedicatoria says she soon learned how to resolve these difficult situations.

“Leaders who are pleasers are not effective,” she points out.

She embraced the organization’s full program of work by also being a part of the SkillsUSA Championships. Dedicatoria represented her state twice in the national Commercial Baking competition.

But it was her experience at another SkillsUSA event, the Washington Leadership Training Institute, that inspired Dedicatoria to advocate for career and technical education. Watching her fellow students spread out over Capitol Hill, she again thought, “I want to do what they’re doing.”

With an eye on the future, she’s studying international relations at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. Dedicatoria hopes to use her degree and life experience to tell the world about CTE.

She especially wants to be sure people in underdeveloped countries understand the importance of having a skill. “I want to be an advocate for that,” she says.

“I have this skill. I can go out in the world and experience things. I can go get a job. … It’s a great thing.”