(WACO, Texas) – Students representing Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus brought back 11 medals from the 2023 SkillsUSA Texas Postsecondary Leadership and Skills Conference held April 13-15 in Houston.
“I am beyond ecstatic to see such a strong presence of TSTC medalists at this year’s state competition,” said Abby Ford, TSTC’s assistant department chair of General Education and SkillsUSA coordinator for the Waco campus. “It further goes to show the vast amount of time our students and faculty go into preparing for this endeavor.”
Five students won gold medals and now qualify to represent Texas at the 2023 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference scheduled for June in Atlanta, Georgia.
Joseph Mesecke, of Temple, placed first in the Automotive Service Technology contest. It marked the first time he had taken part in SkillsUSA.
“I wanted to see what it was about and give it a shot,” he said. “You lose if you don’t go, but if you do go, you have a chance to win.”
Mesecke said he was already familiar with what he encountered during his contest. He said he was shocked when his name was announced as the winner.
“I did not think it was all that real,” he said.
Two students from TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program won gold medals.
Zacarias Felipe, of Graham, placed first in the Carpentry contest. He also took part in the state conference last year.
“Last year I could have won but I messed up,” he said. “I wanted to redeem myself.”
The Carpentry contest lasted six hours and took place outdoors. Felipe said most of what he had to do was easy since he already works in the construction field.
Felipe said he was happy to accomplish his goal of winning a gold medal.
“I will try my best to represent Texas (at the national competition),” he said.
Joshua Lynn, of Arlington, placed first in the Cabinetmaking contest. He was confident throughout the duration of the more than four-hour competition. Lynn used his carpentry experience and what he has learned at TSTC to build an 18-inch fir, poplar and tile nightstand for the contest. He said he will donate his creation to TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program.
TSTC swept the Plumbing category by taking the three top spots. Chris Martinez won the gold medal, Joseph Garcia won the silver and Migel Reyes won the bronze.
Martinez, of Marlin, also won a state gold medal last year and a national bronze medal. He said he looks forward to meeting other competitors and going for the gold again in Atlanta.
Fabian Camargo, a Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology student from Cumby, won the gold medal in the first-ever Heavy Equipment Operation Demonstration contest.
Camargo said the competition was in three parts: a written test, inspections, and a timed driving test. He said he drove a forklift around cones topped with tennis balls, lifted a pallet of water, and drove in reverse to unload the water. The goal was not to knock off the tennis balls or spill water.
He said he looks forward to making his second trip to Georgia, the first being when he was in high school competing at the National Beta Club convention in Savannah.
“Even though I was first, I am going in open-minded,” Camargo said. “I just want to go in ready to learn.”
Other Waco campus students receiving medals at the state conference include:
- Silver: Automotive Quiz Bowl (team event), Justin Cannon, Derek Konz, Matt Lopez, Zachary Morris, Maricia Stanbarger, Javier Zuniga.
- Silver: Heavy Equipment Operation Demonstration, Eliza Morris.
- Silver: Restaurant Service, Anyely Sierra.
- Bronze: Carpentry, Gilbert Hernandez.
SkillsUSA is a professional organization focused on employability, leadership and technical skills that help college students pursue successful careers and be part of a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA has more than 100 categories in which students can compete, from 3D Visualization and Animation to Welding Sculpture.
For more information on SkillsUSA, go to skillsusa.org.
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.