View this email in your browser
Welcome to Fall!
By now, students and instructors have settled into the 2016-17 school year. There is nothing quite like the feeling of beginning a school year for new students on any career and technical campus across this country, particularly in the trades and industrial classrooms, labs and shops. There is such a huge anticipation and excitement, along with a bit of uncertainty of what the new school year will bring. That soon disappears, and a feeling of “what’s next” takes over.
With August and September behind us, some students have graduated, entered the workforce or gone on to college. Not returning to school and joining SkillsUSA can cause students to feel disconnected. They may miss sharing the wonderful experiences of SkillsUSA, as well as the friendships they’ve made.
The great news is that graduates can continue feeling connected by joining the SkillsUSA Alumni and Friends Association. The mission of the SkillsUSA Alumni and Friends Association is to be always connected as mentors and leaders who advocate for career and technical education, lifelong learning and service leadership leading to career success.
SkillsUSA belongs to all of us, and we need to secure its continued success. The spirit of service lives in our alumni. We urge alumni to share their experiences and knowledge with new members. Your enthusiasm can make a difference at the local, regional and state levels. Please choose to stay involved and be active with SkillsUSA.

Not extra work, but extra help

Many classroom instructors rely on alumni to meet the needs of their local SkillsUSA chapter. These members are called upon as guest speakers, mentors, coaches, contest planners, judges, industry advisory committee members and community advocates for career and technical education (CTE) and SkillsUSA. Their help to the classroom instructor is invaluable. Your commitment to a local chapter ensures that the students will have the essential skills they need to be career-ready.
Alumni members can help inspire and lead the next group of CTE students as they develop personal, workplace and technical skills to propel them to the next levels of educational and career success. If you are a SkillsUSA graduate, call your local CTE school and ask how you can help. Instructors, reach out to your program graduates and involve them in scheduled chapter activities.

Alumni Success Story: 
‘The confidence to be the best educator possible’

Stephanie BotchnekStephanie Botchnek is a special education teacher at Peotone (Ill.) Junior High School. Botchnek credits much of her success to SkillsUSA. She tells anyone who will listen that “before SkillsUSA, I didn’t really have a passion to do anything.

“It’s almost as if all of the components of the SkillsUSA emblem were inside of me but needed to be lit by the flaming torch of knowledge to use them in my life,” she explains. “SkillsUSA taught me that any child can accomplish anything and that no dream is out of reach. I teach that to my students every single day in the classroom, because I want them to believe that they can do anything their hearts desire. I want them to accomplish every goal that they have set for themselves. I want them to have the confidence that they need to be skilled workers in the near future. I want students to know that college isn't for everyone, and that there are many trades and occupations that require training that SkillsUSA can help provide in teaching and preparing them to be successful in the workforce.”

Botchnek earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Illinois State University. From there, she continued her education at Lewis University, receiving endorsements in English as a second language and learning behavior specialist 1, and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction in English as a second language.

“SkillsUSA gave me the confidence to be the best educator possible,” she says. “I was more prepared than my peers going into college because of the classes I took in high school and because of my experiences in SkillsUSA. SkillsUSA provided me with experiences I would never get the chance to have.” Those included learning to be a leader, writing a résumé, practicing public speaking, networking with complete strangers, going on mock interviews, meeting with state representatives, seeing parliamentary procedure in action at the state capitol building, and competing at the local, state and national levels in preschool teaching. 

Region Reports

Region 2
Juliana Rosa — Virginia
I had the opportunity to attend the SkillsUSA State Directors’ Professional Development Conference in Leesburg, Va., in August. During my visit, I was able to bring greetings on behalf the SkillsUSA Alumni and Friends Association and share the Alumni Executive Board’s plan to help the state alumni coordinators develop strategies to help the state SkillsUSA directors. I shared the importance of reaching out to their alumni members for state support. If you are a SkillsUSA alumnus who is interested in giving back to this great organization, please contact your state association director or state alumni coordinator. He or she will add you to their team of volunteers to help with district and state events and conferences.
Region 3
Akshar Patel — Illinois
I have been helping states develop ways that alumni can assist with fall leadership conferences. Alumni can assist in conducting leadership workshops and teambuilding activities. We are also working with state alumni coordinators and state association directors to develop alumni strategic plans for the next three years. If you need help in developing a state alumni association strategic plan, please reach out to your Alumni Regional Representative or SkillsUSA headquarters.

On Aug. 28, the SkillsUSA Illinois Alumni Executive Team met to plan its program for the year. SkillsUSA Illinois Alumni will run the entire State Fall Leadership Conference scheduled for November. Alumni members will enjoy the opportunity to use the skills they learned as SkillsUSA members.

I also had an opportunity to meet with state SkillsUSA directors and state alumni coordinators from Region 3 at their August conference in Louisville, Ky. At the meeting, we brainstormed ideas for the future of the Alumni and Friends associations in Region 3. Fall conferences are on the horizon, so be sure to look for volunteer opportunities. With the holidays coming, consider planning a food drive or another volunteer opportunity to engage the alumni members in your area. Be sure to share the pictures with us.
Region 4
Bruce Long — Oklahoma
Promotional and recruiting opportunities are coming up in our region. SkillsUSA Missouri has teamed up with Missouri FBLA for the Show-Me Leadership Conferences to be held in Kansas City and St. Louis on Oct. 1 and 8. Also, SkillsUSA Missouri will hold its statewide leadership conference Oct. 26-29, at the Capital Plaza Hotel, Jefferson City, Mo.
SkillsUSA Oklahoma will hold six district fall leadership conferences throughout October at various locations. Check the SkillsUSA Oklahoma website for details. The alumni will be in full force helping to lead many of the leadership training sessions at these conferences.
SkillsUSA Minnesota Alumni members, have you had a chance to check out the newly restructured alumni page? Find opportunities to participate at: or email your state alumni coordinator, Brenda Lynch, at

Alumni and Friends
Executive Board Members for 2016-2017

Executive Chair: Terry Robinson, Oklahoma
Region I: James 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, Snap-on Incorporated

Share Your Story

The Alumni Executive Board and national headquarters staff would like to hear from you. Your success stories inspire current SkillsUSA members. We’d also like to hear ideas and suggestions for growth and alumni program improvement. For more information, call Byekwaso Gilbert at 816-626-4255 or email
Copyright © 2016 SkillsUSA, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list