Success Stories

As with any organization, SkillsUSA measures its success in many ways. But there’s no more powerful gauge for measuring the success of the SkillsUSA mission than to examine the accomplishments of our members, accomplishments that illustrate the positive difference that SkillsUSA involvement can have on a life.

Below you’ll find short synopses of many of these “success stories,” each one taken from the pages of SkillsUSA Champions magazine from 2002 to the present. There are students here from varied backgrounds with varied interests, but one thing binds them together: the positive, often life-changing effect that SkillsUSA has had – and continues to have – on their lives. Click on the “more” link in each piece to be taken to the full article.

  • Ahmad Shawwal

    It’s always the quiet ones who surprise you. Nobody who knew Ahmad Shawwal in elementary or middle school would have imagined the shy immigrant would represent his school…Read More
  • Alan Gomez

    Executive Director Tim Lawrence had just delivered a presentation on SkillsUSA to industry, education and government leaders at a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education conference in Arlington…Read More
  • Alanna Ojibway

    Most of us would be moved by a documentary like “Invisible Children,” about tens of thousands of children who hide in the night to escape being killed or…Read More
  • Angela Camargo, Meagan Parker and Megan Toms

    Angela Camargo loves doing gel electrophoresis. Huh? “You use a gel, and it has a matrix,” the high-school student begins, “and you put your DNA into a well. The…Read More
  • Brian Garcia

    Brian Garcia doesn’t mind being labeled an Army brat. He doesn’t mind that he had to switch schools every year until recently, and he’s adapted to his dad…Read More
  • Brittany Velez

    Brittany Velez has already faced more than her fair share of uphill battles, so it’s good that she takes them in stride. Whether it’s an Advanced Placement course workload…Read More
  • Brooke Bibeault

    At the beginning of her senior year of high school, Brooke Bibeault found herself at a crossroads. She was already pretty busy. A student at Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational-Technical…Read More
  • Casey Clayton and Amanda Moreno

    Amanda Moreno was in a panic. “You’d think I would’ve been more prepared for a contest called, you know, Prepared Speech,” she laughs now about her first SkillsUSA…Read More
  • Chris Gabler

    Chris Gabler had it all. Having just turned 22, the aspiring firefighter was getting a degree at Los Angeles Valley College. He’d already volunteered for a year-and-a-half at…Read More
  • Colleen Turner

    What do competing in Prepared Speech, becoming an engineer, being the world’s best javelin thrower and playing the trombone have in common? A 5-foot-2, eyes-of-blue junior from Bluestem High…Read More
  • Corey White

    Corey White started playing the guitar when he was just 8 years old. “As soon as I learned my first three chords, I said, ‘OK, I’m ready to…Read More
  • Dakota Rostron

    Dakota Rostron grew up watching her grandfather work on cars. “I was always around the smell and the sounds of them,” she says. As a freshman at Princeton (Ind…Read More
  • Daniel Bowman

    It’s not unusual for a teenager to pick up an electric guitar and fantasize about becoming a rock star. What is unusual is when he grabs a guitar…Read More
  • Daniela Duron Garcia

    Daniela Duron Garcia knows how challenges can become opportunities. “It was one month into school ... and I’m already here shaking hands with the president,” the Texas native…Read More
  • Diego Carvallo

    “One day, I just cracked and lost it. I did something I’m not proud of,” Diego Carvallo remembers, the pain still in his voice three years later. “I…Read More
  • Gary Stange

    Picture a champion. You don’t see drug addiction, physical abuse or juvenile detention. But for Gary Stange, it’s part of what he’s both seen and overcome on the…Read More
  • Holly and Rickey Groover

    “Business as usual,” says Debra Groover, her voice unmistakably tinged with pride. Her son, 19-year-old Rickey, has just returned from his third SkillsUSA Georgia competition. Three trips, three…Read More
  • Jacob Hudson

    Asked how he sees the world, Jacob Hudson, who is legally blind, says it’s hard to describe. He’s unable to make a comparison, since he’s only seen things…Read More
  • Jessica Escobar

    Mechanical engineering, surveying, community service, family ties to Central America — these are just a few facets of Jessica Escobar. Together, they help define a young woman who…Read More
  • John Hoyt

    When SkillsUSA tried out a competition in Welding Art Sculpture last year, most entries had whimsical themes: cowboy boots, a dragonfly, a fisherman or an array of stars…Read More
  • Jonathan Irizarry

    Jonathan Irizarry made SkillsUSA history on June 27 when he became the first student from Puerto Rico to be elected as a national officer. Being called on stage…Read More
  • Joshua Brunk

    It’s not every day — or year, actually — that someone meets the requirements for SkillsUSA’s highest individual honor. Joshua Brunk is the latest to be awarded the…Read More
  • Josie Monarch

    Josie Monarch had two requirements for the college she would eventually attend. One of them was that she had to be part of its football program. The Hardinsburg, Ky…Read More
  • Julian Plowden

    Julian Plowden was in trouble. He was in high school, about to end the first semester of his freshman year, and his teacher was almost ready to give…Read More
  • Julissa Antigua, Anthony Tarantino and Samantha Roccapriore

    A balanced-budget proposal that could have slashed state funding for Connecticut’s technical schools didn’t sit well with the students in Meriden. They decided to give legislators their thoughts…Read More
  • Karen Carbajal and Josefina Plata

    Confidence. Compassion. Dedication. It takes all these things to become a medical doctor, but add the right amount of encouragement and opportunity, and Josefina Plata and Karen Carbajal…Read More
  • Karmen Ayres

    At age 7, Karmen Ayres watched helplessly as her active life ground to a halt. “I was so ill that I lost all this weight and basically became nothing…Read More
  • Kate Campbell

    Kate Campbell likes a good challenge. While a student at Presque Isle (Maine) High School, she played ice hockey on the boys’ team. Soccer, softball and swimming dominated other…Read More
  • Kendra Lisec

    Kendra Lisec doesn’t let fear stop her from trying new things. Take performing. In June, she sang in front of more than 15,000 students, teachers and business partners at…Read More
  • Kevin Sbraga

    Kevin Sbraga could barely speak. “Are you sure?” he managed. Confirmation came — Sbraga’s life had officially changed. He’d won the seventh season of popular reality-TV show “Top…Read More
  • Kevin Waita

    Kevin Waita is fascinated with structure — whether it’s buildings and highways or words and music. Originally from Nairobi, Kenya, Waita attends Tulsa (Okla.) Technology Center’s Lemley Campus and…Read More
  • Kim Cioni and Karyn Hawthorne

    Kim Cioni will not let her students give up. Or her sister, for that matter. She’s in it for the long haul, making sure they stay in the…Read More
  • Kristina Rice

    Kristina Rice, food stylist and chef, not only knows how to make a chicken taste good, she makes it look so good that television viewers open their wallets. Rice…Read More
  • LaManda Slover

    By the time she started her senior year, LaManda Slover was already a newly-wed. She’d left her family in Cleveland, Okla. (“I’d say Hallett, but that isn’t even…Read More
  • Larrisa Brown, Kaitlyn Duarte and Rachel Kagan

    Salmon or hydropower? Both are critical to the Washington state economy, but gains for one industry often mean losses to the other. The steps of three high-school students…Read More
  • Leah Rife

    Inspiration can come from the strangest places. But dogs … in space? That’s where young entrepreneur Leah Rife found the idea for a logo to sell her hand-painted…Read More
  • Madelyn Vallejo

    Since she was 5, Madelyn Vallejo has known what she wanted to do with her life. “Some people want to be scientists or doctors. I want to be…Read More
  • Marc Case

    The written word starts with images and characters being shared, understood and repeated. These evolve into alphabets and words. Words become written language. With written language comes literacy…Read More
  • Max Aronson and Dante Foggy

    Your assignment: Create a delicious dessert that would even impress three celebrity chefs. Start with frozen mocha cappuccino. Check. Add a few jelly doughnuts. Sounds good. Throw in…Read More
  • Max Waterhouse

    Most children say “good night” to their parents face to face, and the word is whispered back with the implied promise of tomorrow. Children in an orphanage dream…Read More
  • Melissa Cracknell and Emerson Curtis

    One wants to help people. The other escaped a fire in her home. Both took on grueling training to become firefighters, a dangerous career requiring a quick mind…Read More
  • Miles George

    Most people pursuing a career have a goals list centered around expanding their skill set, making industry connections and getting their work recognized. Miles George has that list…Read More
  • Neal Foster

    Neal Foster says if you’re willing to put in the work, you can accomplish anything you want. After his first attempt in 2013, Foster’s work led to a…Read More
  • Nick Daddona

    Nick Daddona grew up angry. Though he knew his adoptive parents loved him, Daddona felt rejected by the woman who had given him up for adoption. “I was born…Read More
  • Noemi Castro

    From living in a car to making her living working on cars. From a quiet student with poor English skills to a confident student leader delivering speeches at…Read More
  • Paloma Limas

    Paloma Limas started dancing before she was born. “My mom told me that whenever the music came on, [as a little girl] I was dancing around the house. Even…Read More
  • Priscilla Creswell

    All Priscilla Creswell wanted was to focus on a career, even if it meant leaving her familiar high school. Even though her academic counselors advised against it, Creswell…Read More
  • Ricky Jordan

    Camden, N.J., has been ranked as the most dangerous city in the United States. I lived there for 12 years. Each time I went outside could have been…Read More
  • Robert Figueroa

    Robert Figueroa grew up surrounded by gangs. He and his twin brother became involved by proximity. “It’s not that I chose that life,” explains the resident of Florida’s Gulf…Read More
  • Shreela McFaddan

    Shreela McFaddan first picked up a hammer when she was 3 years old. Her family was helping to build a cabin for her grandparents. The little girl just…Read More
  • Stella Elder and Joel Chan

    Ask Stella Elder and Joel Chan what’s new, then get comfortable. You’ll be listening to this mother and son for more than a couple of minutes. Since 2003, the…Read More
  • Tawanda Campbell, Debra Hancock, Diana Lopez, Margaret Mosher, Teresa Slack, Sandy Uffelman

    After losing four different jobs due to the economic downturn in Florida, single mother Debra Hancock decided it was time to do something to make herself more marketable…Read More
  • Tony Hamblin

    The U.S. Army taught Tony Hamblin more than one set of skills. But after nearly 21 years of service, he was ready to leave the military and give…Read More
  • Tyler Brown

    Tyler Brown is interested in all things aviation, especially avionics. “I like aviation, I like electronics. Why not do both?” he explains. The SkillsUSA champion in Aviation Maintenance Technology…Read More
  • Victoria Slagle and Tanner Hicks

    Step-siblings since kindergarten, Victoria Slagle and Tanner Hicks have always been raised as twins. It’s fitting, then, that their achievements in SkillsUSA have been similarly impressive. Hicks, a 2009…Read More