l-r: Jamie Reavis, Johnny O’Connell, Grant Lyon, Matthew Blankenship, Jordan Spears, Matthew Taylor, Drew Brown, Ashley Bumgarner, Hudson Severt, Tabitha Armstrong, Samantha Hohm, Jade Curtis, Tanya Fox, Jonah Severt, Dr. Yolanda Wilson

Wilkes Community College (WCC) SkillsUSA students brought home four bronze medals, and six finished in the top fourteen in the nation from the 57th Annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC), held in Atlanta, Georgia June 20-24, 2022. WCC was represented by nine student competitors and six advisors. The students qualified to participate in the national competition by winning first-place gold medals in April at the statewide competition held in Greensboro, N.C.

More than 25,000 students, teachers, education leaders, and representatives from 600 national corporations, trade associations, businesses, and labor unions participated in the event. The highlight event of the conference was the annual SkillsUSA Championships held on June 20-24, which included 106 hands-on skill and leadership competitions.

Among the more than 8,000 student competitors, four of the nine WCC students showcasing their knowledge and skills placed third, six in the top fourteen, and all students placed in the top 40 in the country.

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

  • Automotive Service Technology
    • Matthew Taylor– 14th place
  • Career Pathways-Natural Resources-Agriculture-Food
    • Tabitha Armstrong, Jade Curtis, Samantha Hohm – third-place team
  • Job Skill Demonstration Open
    • Jordon Spears -10th place
  • Power Equipment (College)
    • Matthew Blankenship– third place
  • Welding Fabrication (CCP) West Wilkes High School
    • Drew Brown, Ashley Bumgarner, Hudson Severt—40th place team

“The 2022 SkillsUSA national competition was a life-changing event for everyone in attendance. It was great to see all the students back in face-to-face contests. I would like to thank all of those who stepped outside of the box to compete in the National Conference,” said Hardin Kennedy, WCC SkillsUSA advisor, and Transportation Technology chairperson. “They are recognized as the best of the very best students in the country – they are champions!” Kennedy added, “This success doesn’t come easily; it requires vigorous hard work and dedication.”

Beyond the competitions, students enjoy networking and professional development opportunities that can help set the path for their post-college careers. 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.

“We are so incredibly proud of our students who competed at SkillsUSA in our career and technical education programs,” stated Dr. Yolanda Wilson, VP of instruction. “With the guidance of our excellent faculty, they have emerged as some of the top in their respective categories, and we are excited to see the work they will do in the workforce upon graduation. Skills USA is a wonderful opportunity for our students to showcase their talent while learning from the most innovative industry leaders in the field.”

Wilkes Community College thanks the following sponsors: WCC faculty and staff, Adams Old Castle – Williams Roberts, Blevins Building Supply, Blue Ridge Tractor, McNeill Nissan, Flowers Auto Parts, HD Supply, High Country Paint, Home Builders Association of Wilkes and Yadkin, Impact Collision, John Deere with James River Equipment, Kris Dell Applied Software, L & A Emergency, Inc., Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, ARC 3 Welding Supply, Mike’s Body Shop, Millers Creek and Wilkesboro Volunteer Fire Departments, O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, Payne Power Equipment, Pine Hall Brick, Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of NC, Inc., Snap-on Tools, Specialty Fabricators, Statesville Brick, The Welding Company, Triad Freightliner, Western Carolina Electric, Weyerhaeuser, and Yadkin Well Company, Inc.

Additional monetary donations were given by Duke Energy, Town of North Wilkesboro, NC Community Colleges Foundation, Inc., Window World, Inc., Wilkes County Home Builders Association, Evan and Victoria Handy, George and Nancy Koen, Arnold and Becky Lakey, Ann Parsons, and Mac and Lisa Warren. Contributions to the WCC Annual Fund-SkillsUSA may be sent to WCC Foundation/Annual Fund, P.O. Box 120, Wilkesboro, NC, 28697.

About WCC Skills USA Club

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers, and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. 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 28, 2022. 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 twelve 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 hardin.kennedy@wilkescc.edu.