Department: Success Story

Jason McCuish

The best teachers show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see. Instructor Jason McCuish hopes you’ll look at his amazing pupils and see for yourself how impressive they are. While McCuish likes to keep the focus on students at Lynn (Mass.) Vocational Technical Institute (LVTI), he earned his own time in…
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Justin Jackson and Marquis Thomas

For Justin Jackson and Marquis Thomas, getting into robotics led to a lot more than a gold medal in their state SkillsUSA competition. It gave them a whole new outlook on education. “Just as long as I was passing the class, that’s all that mattered to me” until mentor and robotics coach Robert Lorenzo “changed…
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Zachary Ferguson

Zachary Ferguson

Soon after being elected a SkillsUSA national officer, Zachary Ferguson was asked about the benefits this new experience might bring. “SkillsUSA is building me up to become what I can be,” he replied, “and what I have the potential to become.” The Hudson, N.C., student may not have realized it at the time, but he…
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Virginia Mata

Virginia Mata

Wonder Woman. Supergirl. Virginia Mata. The last of these may look out of place, but what else besides superpowers can explain how this petite young woman keeps doing the impossible? Even before high school graduation, Mata demonstrated that she could speed up the clock, earning enough credits for an associate’s degree (now 19, she’s already…
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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 national gold medalist in Power Equipment Technology, bested 2,000 elite applicants for a full scholarship to Nashville Auto-Diesel College. Winning it depended on aptitude test scores…
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Vanessa Sandoval

Vanessa Sandoval

What’s your idea of perfect presidential material? A proven leader, from a large state like Texas, perhaps? Or maybe a candidate who’s tall, athletic and charismatic? How about a former actor? The 2003-04 president of SkillsUSA’s high school division meets all those qualifications. But unfortunately, due to a document called the Constitution, it’ll be 18…
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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 already had two job offers before graduating from Burlington (Vt.) Technical Center. But this past summer, he decided to combine his love of aviation plus electronics…
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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 civilian life a try. The transition wasn’t a simple one. After going to work for a security company, Hamblin realized he wasn’t doing what he really wanted.…
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Tom Hahn

“I can remember a time when I couldn’t even leave my bed because I was so afraid of the unknown.” There are many individual paths to the SkillsUSA Championships, but Tom Hahn’s was particularly stressful. In his own words, Hahn tells how he overcame his clinical anxiety to earn a gold medal in the biggest…
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Tom Billigen

As a young technician, Tom Billigen was filmed for a recruitment video about the power equipment industry. Working on an engine, he looked into the camera and said, “Some of my friends have jobs, but this is a career.” He was right — and it’s been a very good career so far. “I’m only 36,…
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