HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State Community College students made a mark recently at the 53rd annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference held in Louisville, Ky., where students compete against the very best of the best in their fields.
Wallace State Machine Tool Technology student Maci Key was selected as the National SkillsUSA Secretary for the upcoming academic year, becoming the first student from the college to earn an national officer role.
Additionally, Machine Tool Technology student Noah Smith won a silver medal in the CNC Turning Specialist competition, and Electronics Technology students Steven Ballard and Landon Warnock earned bronze medals in the Robotics and Automation Technology competition.
Wallace State had 10 students represented at the national event a year after sending a record 15 students to Louisville.
Key initially enrolled at Wallace State as a dual enrollment student while at Hayden High School and has thrived in the Machine Tool Technology Department, recently wrapping up her freshman year. She served as a state SkillsUSA college president and delegate over the past year and was voted to represent the organization as a national delegate.
Key is the first national SkillsUSA student delegate from Alabama in three years and the first since Dustin Cagle served for Northeast Alabama Community College.
“I’m extremely grateful to be able to represent Wallace State Community College, the state and the SkillsUSA members across the nation as a National SkillsUSA Officer. It meant a lot that our student delegates trusted me and my fellow National Officer Team to lead and represent them this next year,” Key said. “It truly is a dream come true not only to be a National SkillsUSA Officer, but to be the first one to represent Wallace State. I hope to be able to bring all of the knowledge I gain from this adventure back to the Wallace State SkillsUSA chapter.”
While in Louisville, Key had to complete various tasks during her pursuit to be elected as a national officer, including speaking on items like professionalism, leadership, integrity and ethics and discussing ways she would encourage students across the nation to get involved with SkillsUSA-sponsored events.
Key was required to complete a written exam and also had to campaign for her position with items such as posters and pins. Key was voted as a national officer by her student delegate peers.
“This young lady is destined for greatness. Maci has chosen a career field where she is a non-traditional student and is standing tall. She is professional in her appearance and behavior and is a great speaker,” said Jimmy Hodges, Wallace State’s Dean of Applied Technologies.
Key also recently learned she’ll serve as the organization’s Secretary.
“After I was involved in the Alabama state officer team, I knew I wanted to be part of the national officer team. I love what SkillsUSA stands for: involving students from all technical programs by teaching them not only their technical skills, but personal and workplace skills as well, which helps prepare them for the world of work. I can see how many people’s lives it has affected and changed. I want to give back to the organization I have fallen in love with,” Key said. “I want people to know they can explore career paths that might not be the normal thing for them to pursue, just like I did with Machine Tool Technology. I’ve fallen in love with a trade that is male-dominated, and I couldn’t be happier.
“My hopes are to grow with my team and be able to represent our organization to the best of my ability. Our goal is to increase the total membership to 400,000 members by the end of our term. I believe as a team we can achieve great things.”
Wallace State’s Machine Tool Technology program was also represented well by Smith at the national event. Smith, a Cullman native, placed highest for the program on a national scale since Matthew O’Neal won a national gold in 2003, and joined last year’s Criminal Justice Investigation team by winning a silver.
“I was very excited and nervous to hear the results and thrilled to win. The state competition definitely prepared me well for nationals. It was just a matter of competing against more individuals,” Smith said. “I was honored to win a silver medal for our program, and Maci Key topped it off by being named a national officer.”
Smith will complete the Machine Tool Technology program at the end of this semester.
Meanwhile, Ballard and Warnock brought home the first national medals for Wallace State’s Electronics Technology Department since 2008.
“It’s an awesome feeling to bring a bronze back to our department. Our hard work definitely paid off,” said Ballard, a Hayden native. “We prepped hard at work and at school before we went to nationals.”
Warnock is from Pinson.
“I can’t take credit for Steven and Landon’s success, but it’s rewarding to think our program had something to do with it. They had great resources available to help them achieve their goal,” said Wallace State Electronics Technology instructor Keith Tolbert.
SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including health occupations. SkillsUSA serves more than 300,000 students and instructors annually. The organization has 13,000 school chapters in 54 state and territorial associations.
For more information about Wallace State, visit www.wallacestate.edu.
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