Wiregrass earns National SkillsUSA medals Local news

VALDOSTA — Wiregrass Georgia Technical College announced two students who won medals at the 57th Annual National SkillsUSA Competition.

The National SkillsUSA competition was held in Atlanta. Students from across the nation competed in 103 different trade, technical and leadership fields, college officials said in a statement. All competitions are designed, run and judged with the help of industry, trade associations and labor organizations, and test competencies are set using industry standards.

Top student winners received gold, silver and bronze medallions. Many also received prizes such as tools of their trade or scholarships to further their career and education. The SkillsUSA Championship is for high-school and college-level students who are members of the 360,000-member SkillsUSA organization.

Wiregrass had 14 students, who competed in eight competitions at nationals, with one gold and bronze medal and six named in the top nine in the nation. Wiregrass competitors varied in age from 20 to 68.

The college was recognized once again as a National Model of Excellence Chapter, being named one of 24 for this distinction. Tetiana Denysenko, an EMS student, and David Grace, a cybersecurity student, represented the college’s SkillsUSA chapter for the Models of Excellence.

Nadia Harris, design and media production technology, earned a gold medal in the pin design competition.

“My experience with SkillsUSA was something I could never have imagined,” Harris said. “When I decided to go back to school, I wanted to challenge myself by joining a club and becoming more involved in school activities. Then the opportunity presented itself to join SkillsUSA and enter the pin design competition. I jumped at the opportunity. As a person who was not that comfortable with putting myself out there, I was able to challenge myself and exceeded my expectations by winning both state and national competitions. Joining SkillsUSA has been the best decision I could have made.”

John Patten, media production program coordinator and multimedia specialist, served as her SkillsUSA advisor.

Brandon Howell, commercial electrician construction technology student, earned a bronze medal in the electrical construction wiring competition. Brandon received the Georgia Postsecondary 2022 Dr. John L. Scott Award for Excellence in Individual Competition for having the highest individual score.

Howell started at Wiregrass as a dual-enrollment student and is attending college and participating in the college’s apprenticeship program. His advisor was Drew Vickers, electrical/industrial systems technology program coordinator.

“As a college, we are incredibly proud of our students who placed and competed,” Wiregrass President DeAnnia Clements said. “These students not only represented the college but they were the best in the state of Georgia which speaks highly of our programs at Wiregrass.”

The college had its first international student to participate and the first female student on a team competing in 3D Visualization and Animation, and they came in fourth in the nation. Kelley Wetherington serves as the college’s SkillsUSA coordinator and is the director of campus life for the college.

Wiregrass students who competed at that national SkillsUSA after earning the top spot at the state’s SkillsUSA competition were:

– Wilmer Calles, game development technology in 3-D visualization and animation.

– Tatianna Conger, game development technology in 3-D visualization and animation.

– Hayden Davis, precision machining in automated manufacturing technology.

– Nathaniel Gray, precision machining in automated manufacturing technology.

– MJ Johnson, precision machining in automated manufacturing technology.

– Elaine Elder, culinary arts in commercial baking.

– Brandon Howell, commercial electrician construction technology in electrical construction wiring.

– Eric Arroyo, mechatronics in mechatronics.

– Joseph Durrah, mechatronics in mechatronics.

– Nadia Harris, design and media production technology in pin design.

– Andrew Ngo, computer programming in T-shirt design.

– Tetiana Denysenko, EMS in models of excellence.

– David Grace, cybersecurity in models of excellence.

All of Wiregrass’ competitors earned the skill point certificate, part of the workforce readiness system. The criterion is developed and endorsed by industry representatives and signifies students who have achieved technical competencies and proficiency at the national level, college officials said.

“Being a member of SkillsUSA is a wonderful experience for all involved and a great opportunity for students to build workplace skills, as well as hone their technical skills for competition,” Wetherington said. “The students and advisors who attended the SkillsUSA national championships worked hard to earn a place on our SkillsUSA national championship team. We have some amazing students who put in the extra hours to prepare to compete against the best of the best in the nation. Not only did our students work hard, so did our instructors, going above and beyond to train our students for their competitions.”

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers, and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. It is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers, high school students, and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical, and skills service occupations, including health occupations.

The SkillsUSA program hosts local, state and national competitions for students to showcase their skills learned through hands-on training in the classroom.

The college is seeking sponsors for the 2023 national championship team. For more information about SkillsUSA, contact Kelley Wetherington, director of campus life, at [email protected] or (229) 333-2100, ext.1237.

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