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Strengthening the connection

It is a pleasure to serve SkillsUSA alumni as the newly elected chair of the Alumni and Friends Executive Board. My connection to SkillsUSA began nearly 20 years ago as the graphic design instructor at Canadian Valley Technology Center in El Reno, Okla. That connection led to being the Oklahoma Northwest District advisor, as well as a trade and industrial education association officer on the state and national levels.

I am now retired, but during those years, my greatest experience was to see the influence that SkillsUSA had on students. I learned to appreciate the dedication and ongoing support of so many students who graduated from trade and industrial programs. They are the ones who encouraged me to continue connecting and serving. I am fortunate to be on the board with an awesome group of alumni. This group has already put into action plans to strengthen the connection between current and former members.

The board urges each of you to stay connected to alumni by befriending the national and state associations on Facebook and by asking your state SkillsUSA director how you may help. We are always looking for volunteers to serve local chapters as speakers, consultants and mentors. In addition, alumni can serve as contest chairs, judges and presenters at local, state and national levels. The board has standing committees whose chairs would love to hear from you.

We are positive that this will be an exciting year. The alumni leadership encourages you to maintain those previously established friendships, keep your hand in organizing events and do what it takes to make sure that you will be always connected.

A mighty force at nationals

The 52nd National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) is now in the history books, and it was a life-changing event for everyone. More than 15,000 people from across the country, including students, teachers, alumni and business partners, participated. This conference was a success because of the many alumni volunteers who committed their time to help provide a life-changing experience for the attendees. Hundreds of SkillsUSA alumni and friends attended the conference as judges, technical committee members, national education team members and more. More than 60 alumni helped with numerous alumni activities. The alumni executive board hosted several training sessions to generate new ideas for growing alumni chapters and creating networking opportunities. We also organized a community service event for more than 545 students and teachers and held an alumni reception at the Kentucky Performing Arts Center to provide an opportunity to network with business and industry executives. 

Most importantly, alumni members had fun and were honored. SkillsUSA alumni help make it possible for thousands of students to showcase their skills and talents while at the national conference. Their selfless service doesn’t go without notice or appreciation. Why don’t you consider joining us next year? Here’s a link to the Week in Review video that captures a few key moments from our 2016 NLSC:
You can also find video highlights on our YouTube Channel:

Alumni volunteers help SkillsUSA serve Louisville

The SkillsUSA national alumni association coordinated and hosted the community service event held June 24 as part of the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in the greater Louisville metro area. More than 545 students and teachers volunteered their time to work in nine different locations in and around Louisville. Their goal was to help improve and make better the lives of those who live in the Louisville area. The volunteers were joined by DIY Network's "Rescue Renovation" celebrity Kayleen McCabe. A construction contractor by trade, McCabe joined 30 students and advisors to help build a Habitat for Humanity home with a single mother of seven children whose house burned down. The event was sponsored by GOJO Industries. 

Alumni honored for going above and beyond

The SkillsUSA Alumni and Friends Executive Board congratulates two outstanding alumni members. Each received an award during the 2016 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference Opening Ceremony in Louisville, Ky.
  • Lloyd Daniel, from Missouri, was honored as the Outstanding Alumni Member for his commitment and contributions to SkillsUSA. 
  • Brent Tuttle, from California, was honored as the Outstanding Alumni Achievement awardee for his work as a SkillsUSA advisor, coach and welding instructor at La Mirada High School and founder of several charity organizations to support students and children in the San Bernardino Valley.
To nominate yourself or someone else, go to the SkillsUSA website for details and forms. 

Alumni and Friends Merit Scholarships recipients

Congratulations to Samantha Dorwin of Massachusetts and Haily Walker of Missouri, recipients of the 2016 SkillsUSA Alumni and Friends Merit Scholarship. Dorwin and Walker went through a rigorous application process to be awarded the $500 scholarships. The scholarship recognizes the unique qualities of SkillsUSA students including leadership, commitment to community service, and advocating for career and technical education.

Harley-Davidson winner announced 

Congratulations to Gary Sanger from Des Moines (Iowa) Community College who won the 2016 Softail Slim® S with a Screamin’ Eagle® air-cooled twin cam 110B™ engine with military inspired visuals and olive gold denim paint. Thank you to Cheri Judkins and her team at the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Co. for donating this beautiful motorcycle. Raffle ticket sales support the SkillsUSA Alumni and Friends Association. 

Alumni Success Story: 
Student, teacher, partner stays connected

In 1973, Richard Nixon was president, Secretariat won the Triple Crown, The Sting was the best movie, and graphic design student Paul King began to build his future on a solid foundation by joining VICA, now known as SkillsUSA. His exceptional creativity became evident as he won Oklahoma's gold medal in the Advertising Design contest that year. Right after that, King was hired by the Daily Oklahoman newspaper. 

"I was scared to ask for a week off in only my second week on the job, so I missed out on the opportunity to compete on the national level,"  King says. “The young lady from Oklahoma who replaced me actually ended up taking home the gold. Can't help but wonder, could that have been me? Life's circle came around when in 2000 I had a student place first in Advertising Design at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference — an awesome feeling, for sure."

Encouraged by a former educator of his to apply for a teaching position at Charles Page High School in Sand Springs, Okla., King began to build his new career of being a graphic design instructor in October 1975. Never having taught before, those first few months were quite a challenge, but with the help of his students and fellow teachers, he made it through that school year –– something a large number of students since then are extremely grateful for. Those students not only learned skills to secure rewarding careers, but also gained leadership experience that allowed them to advance in those careers. King was recognized in 1998 when he received the Region 4 Advisor of the Year award. Later that summer, he was selected as the national SkillsUSA Advisor of the Year. 

"The highlight of that occurrence was having my picture taken with Miss America/Miss Oklahoma Shawntel Smith, who was the keynote speaker at the 1998 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Mo.,” King says. “I’d say that is pretty good for a kid from Oklahoma!"

Upon retirement from Tulsa Tech, Paul looked back at what he had built: 25 years as an instructor, eight years as a campus career and technical student organizations coordinator and three years as a career advisor in charge of recruitment. Even after retirement, he remained quite active with SkillsUSA, serving on the inaugural Oklahoma Alumni and Friends Association board of directors. He took on the role of leadership contest coordinator, gathering the 133 chairs and judges needed to conduct the various contests at the SkillsUSA Oklahoma state conference. Being instrumental in the alumni partnership with the Community Food Bank, he has established the Service Project Day involving 120 contestant volunteers at Oklahoma's state conference. Other events at the conference that were developed under his direction include the Champions Festival and the Alumni Auction, which raises funds that provide scholarships to Oklahoma's Summer Leadership Institute (SLI). For many summers, King has organized Thursday Night Lights, the volleyball tournament at SLI. His enthusiasm and passion for student development is infectious. Because of his efforts, many former and current advisors in Oklahoma stay engaged with SkillsUSA. As a result of all his contributions to SkillsUSA, he was awarded the National Lifetime Membership for Service recognition in 2013.

With the time retirement offers, Paul has been able to express his creativity by painting. Many of his paintings are based on his Choctaw heritage. He has established his own business called pkArtz LLC. He has entered numerous exhibits and contests the past couple of years to showcase his art. Places he has exhibited his art have included: the Choctaw Heritage Days in Durant, Okla.; Hard Rock Hotel, Tulsa, Okla.;. and the Choctaw Culture Days in Washington, D.C. To view some of King's work, please visit his website at:

King's dual passions of SkillsUSA and painting have brought him much enjoyment and many busy hours. "I have always considered myself an artist by trade and an educator by choice,” he explains. “Becoming a teacher was the best choice I ever made. I have been mentored by some great individuals. I feel that it is only right that I pass that mentorship on as long as I am able. Alumni and Friends [Association] continues to afford me a means to be involved with students in a positive manner. I encourage all current members to build their future on a solid foundation and take advantage of the great opportunities found in SkillsUSA."

Alumni and Friends
Executive Board Members for 2016-2017

Executive Chair: Terry Robinson, Oklahoma
Region 1: Jim Rhodes, New York 
Region 2: Juliana Rosa, Virginia 
Region 3: Akshar Patel, Illinois 
Region 4: Bruce Long, Oklahoma
Region 5: Virginia Martinez, California 
Executive Secretary: Anne Dew, Ohio
Karen Ward, SkillsUSA Massachusetts State Director 
Greg Rintala, Business and Industry Representative from Snap-on Incorporated. 
Copyright © 2016 SkillsUSA, All rights reserved.

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