Thousands of CareerTech students from across Oklahoma converged in Tulsa last week for the SkillsUSA State Competition. At the end of the three-day event, four students from Northeast Tech’s Pryor Campus found themselves on the winner’s podium.
“I felt a so happy. I wanted to cry because I couldn't believe that I made it this far,” said Cheyenne Matthews, a cosmetology student from Adair. “On the stage with people staring at me I knew I finally belonged somewhere. I couldn't have done it without the administrators or my advisor.”
Matthews competed in the Job Skills category. This is just one of many competition categories available to students participating in SkillsUSA – a national student organization that offers training, career opportunities, scholarships and prizes through annual competitions. Depending on the program, students may compete at regional, state or national levels.
As a cosmetology student, Matthews was tasked with creating special effects with make-up supplies and completing an interview with the judges. By winning state, Matthews advances to the national competition in June, but she will not go alone. Also advancing to SkillsUSA Nationals is her classmate, Abigail Clark of Sequoyah, who won first in the Cosmetology category. In this timed competition, Clark had to complete a short haircut and style, a long haircut and style, and a 90 degree cut.
“I am looking forward to competing again and making new connections with people from all over the country,” Clark said.
Two other students from Northeast Tech’s Pryor Campus also placed first in their competition. Duwayne Lee of Langley and Nathaniel Moore of Claremore, are enrolled in Northeast Tech’s Electrical Technology Program, and the duo competed as a team in the Robotics and Automation Technology category.
“The hardest part was the counter. We haven't had to program a counter before, and so we had to go through the list of programs and see what worked,” Lee said. “It was mostly trial and error, and at the end of it the only thing left out was the display, which turned out to be simpler than what we were imagining.”
The SkillsUSA National Competition takes place June 19-23 in Louisville, Ky. The students and their instructors will travel to Louisville with all expenses paid, thanks to the support of the district’s Board of Education.
“Each year, the board takes action to provide funding for the students who place first at SkillsUSA State, earning the chance to represent the district and the state at the national competition,” said Northeast Tech Superintendent Fred Probis. “Our board realizes the importance of these competitions, not only for the skills and professional networking opportunities it brings to the students, but also because it expands their world a little bit.”
Probis went on to note that for many students who compete in nationals, it’s their first travel experience outside the state of Oklahoma.
“Traveling opens their eyes to the reality that the world is much bigger than they imagined, and it’s full of opportunity for those willing to work hard,” Probis said. “We are proud of each and every one of these students, and we wish them the best of luck at nationals.”