Local EMCC students among SkillsUSA winners

From Press Reports

Ten East Mississippi Community College students will compete against their peers from colleges and universities across the United States in the SkillsUSA Championships June 19-23 in Louisville, Kentucky.

The students earned a shot at the national championships after earning a combined eight gold medals in the Mississippi SkillsUSA competition in Jackson that took place Feb. 28-March 1. During that competition, the EMCC students beat out competitors from colleges across Mississippi to advance to the nationals.

Six students enrolled in EMCC’s Automotive Services Technology Program and four students in the Welding & Fabrication Technology Program will attend the 53rd annual National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kentucky where the SkillsUSA Championships will take place.

“I am really proud of our students,” Automotive Services Technology instructor Dale Henry said. “They worked hard to prepare for these competitions.”

Students in the Automotive Services Technology Program who earned gold medals in the state competition included Kody Gilbert and Johnny Lott of Eupora, who, along with Timothy Nichols of Columbus, earned first place in the category of Team Welding Fabrication.

“Students in our program have won first place in Welding before and we have won first place in Team Welding Fabrication before,” EMCC Welding instructor Gary Gammill said. “This is the first year EMCC has ever won both of those welding competitions in the same year.”

The students will compete in the same categories at the national competition that they competed in at the state level and will square off in the nationals against gold medal winners from other states.

According to the SkillsUSA website, more than 6,000 career and technical education students from colleges and universities across the country will compete in 100 different trade, technical and leadership fields at the nationals.

Last June, former EMCC student Nick Ferrell won first place in the Automotive Services Technology Division at the national championship, beating out competitors from across the country. He was awarded tools, a laptop computer and automotive software worth several thousand dollars.

As the school with the first-place winner, EMCC received a 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe that is used by the Automotive Services Technology Program for training purposes.

Gammill said while the students have a shot at winning great prizes, most see the championships as an opportunity to jump-start their careers.

“There will be a lot of companies there that will be recruiting our students and offering them jobs,” Gammill said. “Our students will soon complete their college requirements and will be able to take advantage of some of those opportunities if they want to do so.”