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Wiregrass brings home 13 national SkillsUSA medals

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Wiregrass Tech’s 2019 National SkillsUSA Gold Medal Winners are: Back Row l-r- Deric Jackson, Geremy Brantley, Steven Sauls, and Emilie Hall;  Middle Row l-r - Jeff Gary, Emily Anderson, Jeffrey Betts, Chris Rampley, and Ginna Chaney; Front Row l-r - Heather Bennett, ShaDawn Powell, Rose Sysskind, and Carson Poindexter Wiregrass Tech’s 2019 National SkillsUSA Gold Medal Winners are: Back Row l-r- Deric Jackson, Geremy Brantley, Steven Sauls, and Emilie Hall;  Middle Row l-r - Jeff Gary, Emily Anderson, Jeffrey Betts, Chris Rampley, and Ginna Chaney; Front Row l-r - Heather Bennett, ShaDawn Powell, Rose Sysskind, and Carson Poindexter
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Wiregrass brings home 13 national SkillsUSA medals

Wiregrass Georgia Technical College students attended the 55th Annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference held recently in Louisville, Kentucky, bringing back seven gold medals, four silver, and two bronze.   More than 6,300 students competed in 103 different trade, technical, and leadership fields. Students worked against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations such as electronics, auto collision, precision machining, medical assisting and culinary arts. 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 completed in 15 competitions at nationals, including 9 new contests for the college. Wiregrass tied Gwinnett Technical College for the number of national medals and Georgia was second in the nation for medal count at 72, North Carolina was first with 73. 

Wiregrass Radiology students ShaDawn Powell (Lake Park), Emily Anderson (Valdosta), and Carson Poindexter (Adel) won a gold medal in Career Pathways (Health Science).  In the Community Service Competition, Wiregrass Radiology students Jeff Gary (Valdosta), Deric Jackson (Valdosta), and Heather Bennett (Madison, FL) won Gold.  That’s the second year in a row that Wiregrass claimed the gold in this category at Nationals.  Also winning gold was Rose Sysskind (Valdosta) for Nurse Assisting. 

Winning Silver medals for the CNC Turning Specialist was John Lake (Valdosta), a Precision Machine and Manufacturing student.  Radiology students Ginna Chaney (Lake Park), Emilie Hall (Valdosta), and Chris Rampley (Valdosta) won silver in Promotional Bulletin Board. This was another second year in a row the college claimed silver in this category.   

Winning Bronze medals were Geremy Brantley (Valdosta) and Steven Sauls (Ashburn) in the Interactive App and Video Game Creation.   

The SkillsUSA Chapter of Wiregrass was recognized for the second year in a row as a National Model of Excellence.  The college was among 24 schools across the nation that was selected that represents the very best in chapter achievement.  The college was also selected as one of 8 chapters to represent “personal skills” and participated in several activities during the national conference to recognize their work including, a special recognition dinner with the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Mick Zais and Cierra Mitchell from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship.

The National Model of Excellence achievement is measured by the effectiveness of student effort in implementing essential workplace skills including personal responsibility, integrity, work ethic and organization in chapter activities and projects. Projects included- a hurricane relief collection drive, planning and hosting an e-sports gaming competition, Tiaras and Ties project to support individuals with special needs attending the Night to Shine Prom, and the project that was chosen by SkillsUSA nationals, “What’s in your brand? Build a personal brand that will work for you.” The “What’s in your brand?” project was created to prepare students in applying for jobs and included mock speed interviews done by community hiring managers, resume reviews, and a “polish your brand” interactive session taught the students about how their physical and digital image is perceived by employers.

Jeff Gary, Radiology student and National SkillsUSA Gold Winner in the Community Service Competition, shared this about his and the team’s experience at the competition, “The Community Service project team members reflect on the SkillsUSA Nationals experience as an opportunity for us to step outside our comfort zone, all the while networking with other competitors from all over the United States and its territories. It also helped us to see our strengths and weaknesses, allowing us to grow as students, professionals, and as a person. We are grateful for this experience, and it is something that we will never forget.”

All of Wiregrass competitors earned the Skill Point Certificate, part of the Work Force Ready System.  The criterion is developed and endorsed by industry representatives and signifies students who have achieved technical competencies and proficiencies on the national level. 

Wiregrass was also represented in the following competitions: CNC Milling Specialist – Clay Schools (Nashville); CNC Technician- John Lake (Valdosta); Computer Programming – Caleb Wells (Valdosta), Entrepreneurship- Abigail Abonza (Pearson), DeMorrio Hansley (Douglas), and Jacquelyn Mitchell (Pearson); information Technology Systems – Don Reeves (Valdosta); Pin Design – Hope Vaughn (Douglas); T-Shirt Design – Andrea Jacobsen (Nashville); Welding- Morgan Davis (Lake Park); and Welding Art Sculpture – Andy Francis (Hahira).

“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,” said Kelley Wetherington, Campus Life Coordinator. 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. In addition to their course work and preparing for competition, students and advisors dedicated many hours of work on both school and community service-related projects this past year, which earned us the honor of being chosen as a National Models of Excellence Chapter for the second year in a row. As the largest SkillsUSA chapter in the state, winning the most medals at state competitions and tying for the most medals at the national championships, we are very proud of our team of students and advisors for representing Wiregrass Georgia Tech, our communities who support us and the state of Georgia at the state and national levels.”

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