Several students from Wayne State College and Northeast Community College recently earned an array of medals at the Nebraska SkillsUSA State Leadership Conference, which qualified some for the national competition.
Wayne State had two students — Krystin Aschoff and Chris Todd — qualify for nationals. Three other students received awards at the state competition: Ryan Zoucha, Tyler Sitzmann and Landin Pribnow.
Northeast Community College students captured a combined 12 medals in the state conference, which showcases the best career and technical education students in Nebraska. The college had nine state champions: John Crockett, Luke Hobbs, Garrett Henery, Emmanuel Soto, Braxton Bargmann, Lance Vie, Luke Vie, Jordan Kempf and Leonard Schaecher.
Jon Koehler and Edgar Chavez also received top awards at the conference. More than 1,500 students across the state competed in more than 100 events.
SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. The organization serves middle school, high school and college students in programs in preparing them for technical, skilled and service careers.
It was originally founded as Vocational Industrial Clubs of America in 1965. In 2004, the name was changed to SkillsUSA. Since 1965, the organization has served more than 13.5 million members. SkillsUSA enhances the lives and careers of students, instructors and industry representatives as they strive to be champions at work.
The state competition is usually held at the state fairgrounds in Grand Island, but it was held virtually this year because of the pandemic. Competitions were hosted on campuses via Zoom, pictures, drop boxes and proctors.
“We are looking forward to attending the competitions in person next year in Grand Island,” Aschoff said. “We learn a lot about the skills needed in the competitions we are enrolled in. We also learn how to practice good dispositions such as leadership, organization, responsibility, work ethic and discipline. It also provides a great opportunity to learn about the different careers we are competing in.”
Aschoff said many employers love to see what extracurricular activities students are involved in during school. SkillsUSA also provides an excellent opportunity to practice skills that will be used directly in the workplace. Many employers choose a student who was involved in SkillsUSA over a student who wasn’t.
Wade Herley, dean of business and technology at Northeast, said the community college had a great showing in the competition.
“We had 12 students compete this year, with 11 of them earning medals," Herley said. "The 12th student, Mason Munn of Wayne, also competed well in internetworking and took the fourth place position.”
Herley said this year was a heavy lift for the SkillsUSA Nebraska chapter. Herley said he is proud of what the state organization accomplished and what Northeast students achieved in a year that saw many cancellations.
“If you get right down to it, SkillsUSA is an organization full of people that just gets things done, and that is exactly what we did this year.”
The SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference will be held virtually June 21-24 with localized hands-on elements for select competitions.