(WACO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College is making an investment in the future of Texas’ skilled workforce.

In addition to being the title sponsor of the 2024 SkillsUSA Texas State Leadership and Skills Conference held April 3-6 in Corpus Christi, Texas, TSTC awarded $770,000 in $10,000 scholarships to 77 high school students who received gold medals in competitions related to TSTC’s technical programs. The college also awarded $500,000 in $1,000 scholarships to 500 graduating seniors who competed in this year’s SkillsUSA.

More than 6,000 high school students from throughout the state competed in leadership and technical contests. This is the second year that TSTC has awarded scholarships to students participating in the state conference.

“We think after they finish (at SkillsUSA) and they graduate that we are a great choice for them, so we wanted to get a chance to talk to them about their next steps and offer them a chance for some scholarships and support them in what they want to do after graduation,” said Trey Pearson, TSTC’s executive director of student recruitment.

SkillsUSA is a professional organization focused on employability, leadership and technical skills that help students pursue successful careers and be part of a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA has more than 100 categories in which students can compete.

TSTC had a presence at the conference for visitors to ask questions of recruiters and learn about technical trades through virtual reality.

Several TSTC instructors worked with the high school contests.

Chris Porter, an instructor in TSTC’s Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology program at the Waco campus, was technical chair for the conference’s Carpentry contest.

“I am here to help students and be sure they succeed in the field,” he said.

Renee Blackshear, an instructor in TSTC’s Computer Networking and Systems Administration program at the Brownwood location, said that when judging contests she looks for confidence and a mastery of technical skills.

“They are also learning invaluable soft skills, like networking and managing their time, getting their projects done in the appropriate order and making sure they have all their materials together,” she said.

TSTC graduate April Walker-Davis, who as a student won gold at the SkillsUSA state level and bronze at the national, spoke at the closing ceremony on April 6.

“The fundamental values of excellence, accountability, service, integrity, respect, responsibility and community are now just ingrained in the very embodiment of who I am,” she said in her address to the students. “SkillsUSA and TSTC are not just organizations, they are communities that uplift, inspire and empower individuals like you and me to fight for our future selves.”

SkillsUSA also has middle school and college components. Some TSTC students will take part in the 2024 SkillsUSA Texas Postsecondary Leadership and Skills Conference from April 18 to 20 in Houston.

Gold medal winners from the state high school and postsecondary conferences are eligible to compete at the 60th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference being held from June 24 to 28 in Atlanta, Georgia.

TSTC’s Waco campus has some students who are already eligible to compete as part of a team in a contest that combines blueprint reading, building planning and construction at the national level. Zacarias Felipe, Victor Flores, Joshua Lynn and Hayden Mosely won the gold medal in the college-level TeamWorks competition held in Corpus Christi.

For more information on SkillsUSA, go to

For more information on TSTC, go to


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