Gwinnett Tech Students Bring Home Gold from National SkillsUSA Competition
Contest recognizes five Gwinnett Tech students from nearly 5,000 competitors; GTC students earn two gold medals and three top-ten finishes
Five Gwinnett Technical College students received national recognition for their knowledge and competence at the annual SkillsUSA competition this summer in Kansas City, Mo.
Of the five national winners from the college, two were gold medalists and three finished top 10 in their categories. Gwinnett Tech's gold medal winners are Jacqueline Hawthorne, in Photography and Shelley Hoster in Preschool Teaching. Darrell Bryant placed sixth in Cabinetmaking; Dinh Huynh placed eighth in CNC Milling; and Randall Barnette placed tenth in Carpentry.
More than 4,700 outstanding career and technical education students participated in the hands-on competitions in eighty-four different technical, trade and leadership fields. SkillsUSA, a worldwide student organization available to secondary and postsecondary students, sponsors the national championships annually to recognize the achievements of technical education students and to encourage them to strive for excellence in their chosen occupations.
Shelley Hoster, 35, had been in the early childhood field for more than a dozen years before she attended Gwinnett Tech to continue her formal education - and before she was 'bitten by the education bug.' She went on to become the state's representative in the national SkillsUSA competition for preschool teaching, earning the top spot in the competition. But Hoster earned more than a gold medal and some notable prizes from the SkillsUSA contest. "What I got out of [the competition] was a sense of self-confidence, a sense of accomplishment and encouragement for me to go far in my field," Hoster said.
For Jackie Hawthorne, who earned a gold in the photography category, the competition offers added validation that she can go on to achieve her dream of opening a gallery for photography and other visual arts. Hawthorne, 33, who earned a degree in accounting from Gwinnett Tech several years ago, can combine that with the degree in commercial photography that she's earning from the college now to give her the needed mix of business savvy and passion that will help her achieve success.
To advance to the nationals, students had to first go through local and state-wide competitions. Gwinnett Tech students set a new college record for medals earned in the state SkillsUSA Contests held in May.
"We are very proud of the first place finish of Jackie and Shelley at the SkillsUSA nationals," said Steve Conway, director, automotive technology with Gwinnett Tech, and the college's SkillsUSA chapter advisor. "These two women have honored their vocations and the college through their efforts at winning their respective contests. Not only do they now have a gold medal in their trophy case, but they also have an incredible accomplishment to note to future employers - as well as a week's worth of memories they will have their whole life."
For more information on Gwinnett Tech's participation in SkillsUSA or about the many programs offered by Gwinnett Tech, one of the state's largest technical colleges, call 770-962-7580 or visit www.GwinnettTech.edu.