Nine students from Dallas College competed in the SkillsUSA National Leadership & Skills Conference from June 20 to 24, and two students went home with silver medals. The second-place students were Juan Rey and Robert McKibben. Over five thousand students competed in the event.
The annual competition took place in Atlanta, Georgia, Metro News reported. Each competing college student was awarded first place gold medals during the SkillsUSA State Leadership & Skills Conference in April. The statewide event was held in Houston.
According to Metro News, Rey is completing an AAS in Culinary Arts at the El Centro Dallas College Campus and competed in Restaurant Service.
“A lot of people believe culinary arts is only cooking, but it’s a lot more than that,” Rey told Metro News.
He stated one of the best parts of competing was getting to experience it with other students.
“I enjoyed being supportive and feeling the support from my classmates and advisors,” Rey said. “I also met a lot of people and made good friends from other states.”
Rey is in his final classes, according to Metro News, and has spent the last two decades working in the hospitality industry.
McKibben competed in Masonry, the same category he won the gold medal during the 2020 national competition. According to Metro News, he takes a few classes at a time at Dallas College and currently works as a high school teacher.
During the competition, states have their own pins that can be collected or traded, and McKibben collected all 50.
He told Metro News, “I met people from every state.”
Latesia Moreno, a faculty member at Dallas College, told Metro News this was her first year being part of the competition.
“The SkillsUSA experience has been an adventure beyond my wildest dreams. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I decided to have our Engine Technology Motorcycle and Small Engine programs participate,” Moreno said. “This experience has definitely made a lasting impact on both a personal and professional level for myself and my students.”
The Dallas College Dean of Special Academic Programs, Dr. Maria Boccalandro told Metro News that the school looks forward to the national competition each year.
“The SkillsUSA program at Dallas College is such a transforming experience for students, helping them to become more poised and confident in their trades and connecting them to employers,” Boccalandro said. “We look forward to bringing an even larger group of faculty and students to the state and national competitions next year. I’d like to thank Dr. Greg Morris, senior vice provost of academic services, who has been so supportive of the program and is as proud as I am of our participating students.”
The other students that competed in the national event included Jose Corona, Zairene Cruz, Anton Grindl, Trevor Heitz, Christopher McCallum, Sian Thomas, and Omar Vazquez.
In addition to college students, the SkillsUSA association serves middle and high school students. The association hopes to empower members to become future workers and leaders, the SkillsUSA website shares.
The association helps students work on technical, workplace, and personal skills.