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WorldSkills USA

Hard work pays off as this year’s SkillsUSA-fielded team makes giant strides in international competition
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WorldSkills USA team members recently returned from Kazan, Russia, where for four days they tested their skills against 1,354 competitors from 63 member nations.

At this year’s WorldSkills Competition, the U.S. team moved up 15 places in the rankings compared to the previous WorldSkills Competition in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Based on total points scored overall, Ryan Meppelink of Zeeland, Mich., was awarded a bronze medal for Heavy Vehicle Technology and Best in Nation for having the highest score for the team.

“It was a great honor to represent my nation,” Meppelink said in a subsequent interview with Transport Topics. “The competition was very tough, but I felt very good about my performance.”

Medallions of Excellence, awarded to competitors who earn 700 out of 800 possible points, were earned by Paul Danenberg of Boise, Idaho, in Automobile Technology; Ryan Fincher of Cedartown, Ga., in Welding; Rebekah Hagberg of Bloomington, Ill., in Hairdressing; and Dylan Wertz of Tiffin, Ohio, in Car Painting.

The team of 22 former national champions narrowly missed earning four additional Medallions of Excellence.

“The experience was unforgettable,” Tim Lawrence, SkillsUSA’s executive director, said. “To experience the unique Russian culture and meet workforce development experts from every corner of the globe truly expands your mind to new possibilities and perspectives.”

Besides the competition, a highlight of the week’s activities was the “One School — One Country” cultural exchange. Students ages 11-15, from 58 institutions in Kazan and the surrounding district of the Republic of Tatarstan, met representatives of the WorldSkills national teams.

The U.S. team visited ORT “Mishpahteinu” Secondary School No. 12. While there, the team participated in cultural dances, crafts and field day-style events.

About 60 Americans made the trip to Russia, including supporters and the technical experts who trained the team over the past two years. The White House sent SkillsUSA 22 individual cards to congratulate each of the team members.

Intensified training and public relations efforts for the 2019 team paid off. From October 2018 to date, over 500 unique television, print and online news stories have appeared (the equivalent of $1.85 million in advertising).

The next WorldSkills Competition will be held in Shanghai in September 2021.

Web Resources

Learn more about the WorldSkills USA team:

Check out all the pictures from the 2019 event: WorldSkillsUSAPhotos

Follow this and future WorldSkills USA teams on social media: @WorldSkillsUSA

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