BY Amanda Sotelo

For the first time in more than a decade, Education and Training students from Texas State Technical College participated in the recent SkillsUSA competition hosted at the college and are headed to state competitions in April.

“We are so excited and proud of our students,” said Education and Training Lead Instructor Myriam Aguila. “They have worked so hard and deserve this recognition. They have had quite the experience.”

SkillsUSA is a professional organization teaching technical, academic and employability skills that help high school and college students pursue successful careers. Members build these skills through student-led team meetings, contests, leadership conferences and other activities.

Education category contestants Mariela Aguirre and Miguel Hernandez both tied for first place, and Samantha Gutierrez received second place in the recent competition.

The Education and Training students earned their spot by creating individual lesson plans and applying them to TSTC’s NINOS Head Start class.

Aguirre, who is the mother of a three year old, created a lesson plan titled, “The Life Cycle of a Frog,” and said she felt more prepared than ever because of her experience with children. She is also a former nanny.

This was her first time competing with SkillsUSA.

“I prepared by testing the material on my son and assessing his reactions,” she said. “The courses I’m taking here at TSTC also played a huge role in my preparation. I was confident going in because of them.”

Each student had the opportunity to prepare their lessons plans beforehand. Hernandez created a lesson plan focused on the seasons of the year, while Gutierrez’s lesson concentrated on objects that sink or float.

Hernandez, who hopes to someday become a principal, created a dance for the children so they could easily identify and remember the seasons.

“My mom inspired my lesson plan with her Zumba,” he said with a laugh. “The children really enjoyed it and were engaged and by the end of it they were able to identify all four seasons,” he added proudly.

All three students agree that competing with each other can be intimidating, especially because they have become close in their SkillsUSA journey, but their goal is to help each other bring home the gold and earn a spot at nationals.

“We may not all be able to go to nationals, but hopefully at least one of us makes it,” said Gutierrez. “Our goal is to represent TSTC and our program well, gain experience and learn from each other.”

Aguirre, Hernandez and Gutierrez will be joining 75 other winners at the SkillsUSA state competition.

More than 3,000 Rio Grande Valley high school students competed as well.

“Having this many students advance to state is a testament to our teaching and training,” said Isaac Gonzalez, TSTC SkillsUSA Campus Coordinator and Lead Precision Manufacturing Technology and Welding instructor. “I’m so proud of how far our student have come and my hope for them is that they earn a spot at nationals. These students are the cream of the crop.”

Other areas of competition included technology, health and hospitality industries such as HVAC, Drafting and Design, Automotive, Nursing, Culinary and Mechatronics, where students are working to defend a national gold.

“SkillsUSA is a great experience for our students and allows them to network with others in their industries and makes them more competitive when applying for jobs,” said Gonzalez.

“SkillsUSA helps our students become better leaders, team players and professionals.”

Students will compete at the SkillsUSA state competition on April 12 and 13 at TSTC in Waco and SkillsUSA national competition will be held in Louisville, Kentucky on June 25 – 29.

For more information on the programs offered at TSTC, visit