SkillsUSA and Salt Lake Community College want to reward students who thrive in their chosen field of study.
SkillsUSA is a national membership organization that focuses on students who pursue careers in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations, including healthcare, media, business and engineering. A collaboration between higher education and industry allows SkillsUSA to prepare its members with the necessary skills to stand out in the workforce.
SLCC has been actively involved with SkillsUSA for many years and currently acts as host for the state level of the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Contest. The contest is a showcase of nearly 100 different disciplines such as culinary arts, nursing, photography and carpentry. Each event awards a first, second and third place.
In addition to the medals and prizes awarded to the top three winners, students who place first or second in their event qualify for the national competition, which is held every summer in Louisville, Kentucky.
Perhaps the most advantageous benefit of participating in SkillsUSA competitions is the opportunity to pay for college. Individuals who place first, second, or third at the state level are eligible to apply for a SkillsUSA tuition waiver at SLCC.
The length of a tuition waiver is two semesters for first-place finishers, one semester for second-place finishers, and a half-semester for third-place finishers. The waivers can only be applied to spring and fall semesters.
Each individual contest has different rules and specifications for involvement and competition, but all are meant to demonstrate a complete knowledge and active skill of their career of choice.
Cyndi Mead, a former instructor in the barbering and cosmetology department at SLCC, has been involved in the SkillsUSA organization for years.
“I left the college to teach at the high-school level for Granite School District,” says Mead. “Since the contest is open to both secondary and post-secondary students, I could continue working with the organization.”
Mead started as an advisor for her students but went on to become a cluster chair over a number of contests, including esthetics, culinary arts, nail care, commercial baking, early childhood education and cosmetology. Her advice for students wanting to participate is to get involved early.
“Find out as much as you can about the contest you’re interested in. Learn all the rules and areas of impact and start preparing right away. Practice, practice, practice,” says Mead.
Getting involved with the contest is as easy as talking to an advisor within your major or program, visiting the SkillsUSA section on the SLCC website, or contacting the School of Applied Technology and Technical Specialties at 801-957-5008.