APRIL 8, 2016

Four GTCC students won medals at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Ky last year. They are (from left to right): Sam Gladden (bronze medal, CNC turning), Katie Keene (silver medal, criminal justice), Kathleen Mavarakis (gold medal, medical assisting) and Logan Brown (gold medal, dental assisting).

JAMESTOWN – Guilford Technical Community College will participate in the largest showcase of career and technical education in North Carolina April 19-21.

This year, 72 GTCC students will compete in the SkillsUSA North Carolina State Conference featuring hands-on trade, technical and leadership contests, spanning more than 106 trade areas. GTCC will compete in 27 contests including advertising design, automotive refinishing, aviation, CNC turning, criminal justice, commercial baking, cosmetology, HVAC and welding.

The first place winners in each contest will be eligible to represent North Carolina at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference June 20-25 in Louisville, Ky. The event draws nearly 6,000 high school and post-secondary students.

GTCC is known as a top contender in state and national SkillsUSA competitions. At last year’s state competition, 14 GTCC students placed first in the competition and went on to win four national medals in CNC turning (bronze), criminal justice (silver), dental assisting (gold) and medical assisting (gold). Ten GTCC students finished in the top 10 in the nation.

GTCC student Katie Keene of Thomasville, N.C. placed first in criminal justice at the state competition last year and went on to win a silver medal at the national conference. She’s returning to the state competition again this year with her eye on the gold.

“We’re confident; we’re not cocky,” said Keene, 37, and mother of three ages 14, 16 and 18. “I learned what I need to get me to that gold in Louisville this summer. We put all the dedication and time in it — if not more — building on what we have already learned. We’ll do the best we can. I’ll be proud either way.”

Competing at Skills has allowed Keene to hone her skills and then put to the test everything she learned in the program and in preparation for the competition. But most of all it has given Keene newfound confidence and reaffirmed she has chosen the right career path.

“Going to Skills is a big confidence booster,” Keene said. “Before Skills, I was kind of a shy, laid-back person who didn’t like to be out there in the spotlight. But after getting out there … it made me realize I have what it takes to do this job; it was there all along, but I needed that extra boost of confidence to see it.”

The majority of this year’s state contests will take place at the Greensboro Coliseum (1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro). GTCC will host some of the contests (including CNC, culinary, advertising design and dental assisting) on its Jamestown (601 E. Main St., Jamestown) and Greensboro (3505 E. Wendover Ave., Greensboro) campuses.

In addition, some contests will be held prior to the main competition. The welding contest will take place April 8 and 15 at Johnston Community College. And the HVAC contest will take place April 14 at the Greensboro Coliseum.

For more information, visit

SkillsUSA (formerly known as Vocational Industrial Clubs of America) is a national, nonprofit, career and technical student organization with more than 300,000 members nationwide. SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers, and industry working together to ensure that America has a skilled work force. It provides opportunities for career and technical education students to enhance their technical skills through competitive events and to prepare for leadership in the world of work through employability and leadership skill development.  For more information, visit and 

Guilford Technical Community College is the fourth largest of 58 institutions in the NC Community College System. GTCC serves more than 40,000 students annually from five campuses and a Small Business Center. Learn more at


— Carla Kucinski