The WCC SkillsUSA team that traveled to national competition in Louisville, Ky., included 34 students and 18 advisors and was led by SkillsUSA advisors Hardin Kennedy (kneeling in front) and Michael Wingler. Photo by Michael Wingler.

Wilkes Community College SkillsUSA students brought home five gold, six silver, and four bronze medals from the 54th Annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) in Louisville, Ky., on June 25-30, 2018. WCC was represented by 34 student competitors and 18 advisors. The students qualified to participate in the national competition because they won first place gold medals in the April statewide competition in Greensboro, N.C.

More than 18,000 students, teachers, education leaders, and representatives from 600 national corporations, trade associations, businesses and labor unions participated. The highlight event was the annual SkillsUSA Championships held on June 27-28 with 102 hands-on skill and leadership competitions.

Among the more than 6,300 student competitors, 15 of the 34 WCC students showcasing their knowledge and skills placed in the top 5 positions, 8 in the top ten and 3 in the top fifteen.

The opening ceremony, co-sponsored by Snap-On Inc. and Toyota Motor Sales, was held on Tuesday, June 26. The keynote speaker was Nascar Driver, Brad Keselowski. A full-time driver for Team Penske since 2010, Keselowski focused on a legendary Team Penske motto: “effort equals results.” The Michigan native was raised in a racing family and embodies the “effort equals results” mentality that is common throughout the Penske organization.

Mike Rowe, TV host, writer, narrator, producer, actor and spokesman made an appearance at this year’s award ceremony. Mr. Rowe recently filmed an episode of his show, “Somebody’s Gotta Do It,” that featured SkillsUSA. The episode aired Saturday, June 23, 2018 on the TBN network.

Today, Mike runs the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, which awards scholarships to students pursuing a career in the skilled trades. His foundation sponsored 100 students to attend this year’s competition. He is closely associated with the Future Farmers of America, Skills USA, and the Boy Scouts of America, who honored him as a Distinguished Eagle Scout.

“A trip to the SkillsUSA national competition is life-changing for students. They are recognized as the best of the very best students in the country – they are champions. This success doesn’t come easily; it requires vigorous hard work and dedication,” said Hardin Kennedy, WCC SkillsUSA advisor and Transportation Technology chairperson. “Beyond the competitions, students enjoy networking opportunities that can help set the path for their post-college careers. In fact, hundreds of the country’s leading employers attend the national conference to scout for new talent to join their companies. With our college’s consistent presence and continued top ranking at the national conferences, Wilkes Community College is recognized as a national leader in post-secondary and secondary education.

Wilkes Community College and Career & College Promise (CCP) students competed and finished in the following areas:

Career Pathways-Natural Resources-Agriculture-Food Team (College): Matthew Giuffre, Amanda Salmi, and Ethan Sprinkle – 1st place (Gold ); Robotics Urban Search and Rescue: Aaron Haymore and Willard Sheets – 1st place (Gold); Health Knowledge Bowl: Jaydi Alexander, David Burke, Hannah Johnson, and Jessica Tritt – 2nd place (Silver); Nursing Assisting: Teresa Munoz-Maya – 2nd place (Silver); T-Shirt Design: Casey Hefner – 2nd place (Silver); Career Pathways-Natural Resources-Agriculture-Food Team (CCP): Kaylee Bowlin, Sydney Roberts, and Hunter Shepherd – 3rd Place (Bronze); Carpentry: Dylan Bauguess – 3rd place (Bronze); Promotional Bulletin Board: Ashley Bauguess, Marina Moore, and Sylvia Rubio-Reyes – 4th place; Action Skills: Kane Exposito – 5th place; Architectural Drafting: Andrew Williams – 6th place; Early Childhood Education: Victoria Sloan – 6th place; Telecommunications Cabling: Kyle Martin – 7th place; Power Equipment: James Alkema – 8th place; Medical Terminology: Miranda Michelle Tigler – 12th place; Additive Manufacturing Technology: James Garris and Dillon McCann – 14th place; CNC Milling Specialist: Ezekiel Hayes – 22nd place; Welding Fabrication Team (College): Thomas Bitner, Joseph Cochran, and Taylor Wagoner – 22nd place; Diesel Equipment Technology: Logan Page – 28th place; Welding Fabrication Team (CCP): Jacob Ballard, Parker Jones, and Noah Osborne – 32nd place.

The Skill Point Certificate, introduced at the 2013 competition, recognizes SkillsUSA members achieving national industry-defined scores at the national competition. The award is the pinnacle achievement in the Work Force Ready System for SkillsUSA students. To earn the certificate, students participated in authentic assessments demonstrating in real time their knowledge and hands-on abilities. Each of the 34 WCC students received 34 Skill Point certificates.

“Not everyone can come home with a gold, silver or bronze medal. However, the Skill Point Certificate proves that a student has mastered his or her trade and is ready to enter and succeed in industry,” explains Kennedy.

The college thanks the following sponsors: WCC faculty and staff, Adams Oldcastle, Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone Auto Parts, Blevins Building Supply, Blue Ridge Tractor, Tom and Karolen Bowman, Carolina West Wireless, Colors Edge, Empire Chevrolet, Empire Chrysler Dodge Jeep, Flowers Auto Parts, Hughes Supply, Impact Collision, Arnold and Becky Lakey, Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, Millers Creek Fire Department, North Carolina Association of Electrical Contractors, O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, Pardue’s Welding, Bobby and Susan Phillips, Pine Hall Brick, Plumbing-Heating-Cooling-Contractors of N.C., Inc., The Record of Wilkes, Kathie Rider, Sylvia D. Robinson, Snap-on, Specialty Fabricators, Statesville Brick, William Stroud, The Welding Company, Town of North Wilkesboro, Tractor Supply Company of Wilkesboro, Western Carolina Electric, Weyerhaeuser, Wilkes County Sheriff’s Department, Wilkesboro Fire Department, Yadkin Well Company, Inc., and Window World, Inc.

Contributions to the WCC Annual Fund-SkillsUSA may be sent to WCC Foundation/Annual Fund, P.O. Box 120, Wilkesboro, NC, 28697.

Wilkes Community College, a member of the North Carolina Community College System, is a public, two-year, open-door institution serving the people of Wilkes, Ashe and Alleghany counties and beyond. Established in 1965, WCC continues to build on a strong history of meeting the educational needs and cultural interests of our students, community and workforce. WCC prepares learners for success in a dynamic world.

About WCC Skills USA Club

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

While the highlights of the club’s year are the state and national competitions, students work year-round to prepare for competition and to promote SkillsUSA. Most recently, WCC hosted the Region 7 SkillsUSA Conference and Career Showcase on February 26, 2018. This annual educational and professional development activity is open to all SkillsUSA members and advisors, high school Career and Technical Education students, business and industry partners, and educational partners. The event included SkillsUSA competitions and the opportunity for high school students to explore the many career training opportunities available to them at WCC.

In 2005, Transportation Technology chairperson Hardin Kennedy organized and developed the Wilkes Community College SkillsUSA Club. In 2006, Wilkes Community College was represented at the state and national competition in its first year of competing with 12 students from various engineering technology disciplines. Each year, participation in the SkillsUSA Club grows as students and faculty learn the benefits of being involved.

This active club operates with significant support from local individuals, businesses and organizations. The assistance helps to offset the cost of hosting events and traveling to competitions. For more information about supporting SkillsUSA, contact Hardin Kennedy at 336-838-6219 or