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Tech Center Students Honored as State Officers

Kudos to three Kent Career Tech Center students selected as SkillsUSA State Officers.  As State Officers they are required to speak publically about SkillsUSA at several functions, train future officers, and help organize SkillsUSA events.

Kelloggsville High School senior Luis Vinalay has been named Sergeant-At-Arms. Northview High School senior Levi Smitter will serve as Historian, and Teresa Strobel, a home schooled senior, is the new Secretary.

SkillsUSA is a national competition for students enrolled in technical programs where more than 300,000 students compete for scholarships by applying the skills they have been learning. Examples of competition requirements include Hospitality/Culinary students showing their pastry skills, or Applied Construction Technology students framing a usable wall according to a blueprint.

The students recently had the opportunity to coordinate and lead panels at the SkillsUSA Fall Leadership Conference, where they helped train 217 students identified as potential State Officer candidates for next year. State Officers are also expected to attend several related conferences, encourage students to participate in SkillsUSA, promote technical education, and submit articles for the SkillsUSA newsletter.   

“It’s amazing to see students push themselves during the competition. It’s always worth the struggle, pain, and tears,” said Teresa, a Graphic Communications student whose main interest is photography. This sentiment is a common theme with the other Tech Center State Officers, who, along with Teresa, recently held a presentation for the student body at the Tech Center to encourage them to participate in SkillsUSA.Luis Vinalay and Deb Riolo sporting their SkillsUSA jackets

Learning for Life

It’s clear the students are not only career focused, but passionate about SkillsUSA opportunities, and their education at the Kent Career Tech Center.

Luis creates 3D animation in Graphic Communications and hopes to take his skills into a medical technology field. “It’s one of the greatest decisions you will make in your life,” he said about Kent Career Tech Center classes. “The diversity is huge here – we all have different backgrounds and interests.”

Teresa said her outlook has changed drastically since attending the Kent Careeer Tech Center. “Coming here allowed me to recognize my talents. I can do more than what I thought. It has really opened doors.”

Deb Riolo, instructor in Graphic Communications and a lead advisor in SkillsUSA (shared with fellow instructor Amy Badovinac), said being a state officer builds character and is great for students’ resume. “State Officers hone in on their strengths as leaders. When you put students in positions to push their own envelope, it’s a good thing,” she said.

Riolo explained that the competition offers all students who participate the ability to see their skills in action, and provides experience they would not be likely get anywhere else.

Looking Forward

As the Sergeant-At-Arms, Luis leads the State Officer processional at SkillsUSA conferences and introduces his fellow officers at seminars. Luis explained the opportunity has taken his technical skills to another level and shown him how to apply them in the real world. “I have improved my soft skills such as public speaking, time management, and meeting deadlines” he said adding, “It puts you in a different spot than in your high school classes.” 

Luis feels much more confident about job interviews and attending college. He also has gained some great friends and connections with other officers from around the country, which could present unlimited possibilities.

Levi, also a graphics student who is interested in video game development, shared a similar sentiment: “It helps me believe I will succeed,” he said, noting that he is much more organized and motivated since becoming State Historian, a role that requires him to maintain records and photograph the year’s SkillsUSA activities.

Levi said his experience at the Kent Career Tech Center is not only valuable to him, but also for the community, pointing out he and his peers will soon be employees working in the jobs they are training for.

“It’s important for people to realize that we are the future and that it is important we learn these skills,” said Levi.


SNN Story on SkillsUSA Results

Michigan SkillsUSA

Michigan SkillsUSA on Facebook


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Adrian Hirsch
Adrian Hirsch has been with SNN since its launch, starting as an intern from Grand Valley State University where he received a degree in broadcasting and business. After the internship, Adrian was brought on as staff to continue reporting, editing and publishing stories for SNN and Kent ISD. Adrian has been active with community radio station WYCE for years, served as Non-Profit Coordinator for GRTV, and currently works as the Web Producer for SNN.


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