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Two CCCC students win national SkillsUSA honors

Click to enlarge,  Attending the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Ky., were, left to right: front row, CCCC Department Chair for Engineering and Computer Information Technologies Constance Boahn, CCCC Lead Motorcycle Mechanics Instructor Stanley Thompson, and CCCC SkillsUSA Advisor Patrick Kelly; back row, CCCC Lead Welding Instructor Charles Bell, SkillsUSA Championships participant James Culbreth, SkillsUSA Championships participant Jordan Norris, CCCC NET Instructor John Ainsworth, and SkillsUSA Championships participant Trevor Brown.

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Attending the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Ky., were, left to ... (more)

07.23.2019College & CommunityCollege GeneralStudents/Graduates

SANFORD - Two Central Carolina Community College students returned home with national honors late last month as part of the college's first-ever team participation in the SkillsUSA Championships, a competition developing career and technical skills for students in middle school, high school, and college.

Trevor Brown and Jordan Norris each finished second nationally in the college division of their competitions -- Brown in Motorcycle Service Technology and Norris in Internetworking, the process of connecting different computer networks so data can be shared.

According to SkillsUSA officials, more than 6,400 state winners competed in 103 events during the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference on June 24-28 in Louisville, Ky.

Brown, currently pursuing his diploma in Motorcycle Mechanics, had never participated in SkillsUSA before, so he wasn't entirely sure how the rigorous, two-day competition might unfold.

Motorcycle Service Technology contestants were challenged with eight 30-minute events on the first day and two one-hour events on the second -- everything from a written test on electrical systems and an oral interview to a variety of hands-on mechanical tasks. Among them: adjusting clutches, measuring components of an engine, and creating a wiring harness from raw materials.

It's serious business. While contestants were not actively involved in one of the events during each nine-hour day, Brown said, they remained in a holding room without cell phone or outside contact. Bathroom breaks were scheduled during 15-minute breaks between sessions, while the competition areas were being reset, and even then, they were escorted by officials to make sure nobody received outside coaching.

Even though he was serious about his performance, the 52-year-old from Fuquay-Varina was focused more on soaking in what he could learn from the competition and his talented colleagues from across the country. "I'm old enough to know this is really about the experience and not about placing," he said.

As the results were announced, Brown was seated a few rows from the top of the Kentucky Exposition Center with Stan Thompson, CCCC's Lead Instructor in Motorcycle Mechanics. Officials began with the bronze medal winner from Iowa, one of the first people Brown met in Louisville. "I was really happy for him," Brown said.

And then they announced the silver: Trevor Brown.

"It was pretty shocking," Brown said looking back on his big moment. "I looked at my instructor and he looked at me with a big smile. I said, 'You've got to be kidding!'"

Norris, CCCC's other silver medalist, had a similar reaction. This also was his first SkillsUSA competition, placing him at a slight disadvantage compared to some colleagues who had worked through the event before and knew what to expect.

The gold medal would have been nice, Norris admitted, but he was happy with the results -- and with the experience as a whole. It wasn't just about gold, silver and bronze, but also about making contacts. After graduating this spring with his Associate in Applied Science, Norris took a job with an agency contracting with Cisco and got the chance in Louisville to meet officials from that global information technology company.

"There are possible opportunities for me going forward because of my placement in the competition," Norris said. "For my competition, there are people in the industry and they want your resume because they know of open positions they want to fill. So, they're looking for graduates who are ready to work."

James Culbreth also advanced to the nationals after taking North Carolina's top prize in Welding.

CCCC's SkillsUSA Advisor Patrick Kelly knew his team was talented and prepared; during North Carolina's statewide competition last spring, 11 CCCC students landed top-five finishes. But he wouldn't have predicted that three of them would advance to Kentucky and two of them step onto the medal stand.

"I told them before the competition that I was proud of them no matter where they placed," said Kelly, who also serves as CCCC's Assistant Director for Student Outreach and Work Based Learning. "I mainly wanted them to enjoy the experience and the opportunity for networking.

"I never expected we would have two winners. But I'm grateful we do and I'm proud of all the students who attended."