(SWEETWATER, Texas) – From serving his country overseas to serving his local community, Texas State Technical College student James Phillips III has dedicated his life to helping others.
Phillips, a Big Spring native, is an Army veteran and a Vocational Nursing student at TSTC. He recently competed at the state-level SkillsUSA Postsecondary Leadership and Skills Conference, where he placed first in CPR Skills.
“I’m still kind of surprised I got first place. I wasn’t expecting it, but I was very excited,” Phillips said.
SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure that America has a skilled workforce. More than 18,000 people, including students, teachers and business partners, are expected to participate in the national event.
Phillips will represent Texas and TSTC at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, on June 24-28.
Phillips was first introduced to CPR training during his time with the military. He enlisted in the Army in 1999 as a helicopter mechanic before serving in the Army’s Special Forces until 2008.
“We needed to know the basics of medical care and act as a first responder, so we learned CPR skills and other first-responder skills,” he said.
When Phillips is not at school or practicing for SkillsUSA, he is working as a certified nursing assistant at the George H. O’Brien Jr. VA Medical Center in Big Spring.
“It’s a way for me to give back to other veterans but also to be around other nurses and keep learning,” Phillips said.
Phillips stands out to his instructors and classmates not only as an excellent student, but also as the only male in the program.
“Bless his heart. He is the only guy in the class right now, so he’s very protective of the other students and a perfect gentleman. He has been a model student who goes above and beyond. I just can’t say enough good about him,” TSTC vocational nursing instructor Sharon Zetzman-Sparks said.
Being a male nurse is something Phillips knows may be uncommon, but he encourages anyone with a desire to help people to consider the career field.
“It’s something different every day. You keep learning new things, and there is a huge job demand. Being a nurse is very rewarding,” Phillips said.
Phillips is expected to graduate in fall 2019.
For more information about TSTC, go to www.tstc.edu.