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Bonded by Tradition, New National Officer Team Charts Unexplored Territory

Meet the 2020-21 national officer team and learn how they're prepared to lead during a global pandemic.
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Many student members dream of representing SkillsUSA and advocating for career and technical education by serving as a SkillsUSA national officer. For many years, delegates from around the country have gathered in June at the National Leadership and Skills Conference to select a team of highly skilled and passionate officers who will connect with leaders from industry and government, help facilitate national events and advocate for the value of CTE nationwide in the year to come.

The 2021 national officer team is no less skilled or dedicated to the SkillsUSA mission than their predecessors, but, unlike past teams, they’ve faced the unpredicted impact of a global pandemic from day one. They haven’t just faced that challenge, though; they’ve met it head-on with the resilience and tenacity that’s part of the SkillsUSA national officer tradition. Over the summer, these 12 diverse student members found themselves campaigning for office in the new virtual environment, working to convey their qualifications and vision to voting delegates from the safety — and isolation — of their own homes. They turned the unexpected into an opportunity to demonstrate many of the SkillsUSA Framework Essential Elements they’ve each learned in the classroom, skills like adaptability, flexibility, computer and technology literacy, communication, professionalism and more.

To their already long list of responsibilities, this team adds the daunting task of fulfilling its official duties in new and creative ways while providing support, encouragement and innovative solutions for SkillsUSA members learning in the same unexplored territory. As they’ve done from the beginning, the new national officers continue to meet the challenge — providing videos, hosting virtual live events, serving as guest speakers and representing each and every SkillsUSA member and stakeholder in a way that honors the tradition of the organization we all love.

Meet the 2021 SkillsUSA National Officers:

Abigail Jensen — National High School Treasurer

“I believe the true purpose of CTE is not to teach students in the trades, but to give students the skills and tools necessary in any career path they choose.”

Abigail Jensen, a Technical Drafting student at Wasilla (Alaska) High School and SkillsUSA’s 2021 national high school treasurer, recognizes the role technology plays in continuing to shape the future. Jensen believes career and technical education (CTE) expands beyond the trades to prepare students for life after school, regardless of the career path they choose. She sees the development of SkillsUSA Framework skills like Computer and Technology Literacy as essential to meeting the challenges and solutions of tomorrow’s workplace. Jensen says that learning these skills has helped her become a more prepared worker, and, because of her new skills, she’s able to help other students.

Read more about Abigail Jensen’s story.

Aliyana Martin — Region 1 Vice President

“I believe that career and technical education allows individuals to find their true passion and purpose in life.”

Region 1 vice president and Medical Assisting student Aliyana Martin knows that CTE provides future skilled workers with the tools needed to be ready for today’s workforce. In fact, Martin — who attends Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School (Mass.) — believes that the value of CTE extends even further, helping students find their passion and their purpose. Martin is passionate about ensuring comfort and relief to her future patients, and she cites the Framework skill Communication as invaluable to that goal. “Communication is essential in all aspects of life, especially in the medical field,” she says. “Through my CTE program, I have learned how to communicate specific information in ways that benefit my patients’ understanding, breaking any barriers that would cause confusion.”

Read more about Aliyana Martin’s story.

Andi Soliz — Region 5 Vice President

“CTE allows students to explore and discover their passions and skills, encouraging its members to prepare for the workforce.”

Region 5 vice president Andi Soliz believes in being prepared. That’s why Soliz stresses the importance of the role CTE can play in empowering student members to control their future through hands-on learning, connection with industry leaders and access to professional development. As a Dysart (Ariz.) High School student focusing on graphic design, she’s already putting the Framework skills of Adaptability and Flexibility into action while learning one of the trade’s important technical skillsets: photography. “As a photographer,” she explains, “being adaptable and flexible is critical to ensure you get the best shot.”

Read more about Andi Soliz’s story.

Cecelia Lausten — National High School Parliamentarian

“CTE learning is what is making the difference for the future, and it is looking exceedingly bright.”

Cecelia Lausten, a Technical Drafting student at Sebeka (Minn.) Public High School and SkillsUSA’s national parliamentarian, believes career and technical education raises students’ confidence while preparing them for any vocation and helping them to discover their true potential. Lausten credits the work she’s done in her SkillsUSA chapter for teaching her the importance of the Framework skill Teamwork, saying, “We used teamwork to make something magical happen and to elevate our skills.”

Read more about Cecelia Lausten’s story.

Dianna Serrano —Region 4 Vice President

“I believe career and technical education serves as the foundation to the knowledge and skills students develop to be career ready in their career pathway choice.”

Region 4 vice president and Criminal Justice student Dianna Serrano knows that students find their strength to become future leaders in the American workforce through hands-on experience in CTE curriculums. That’s why she values opportunities to demonstrate important Framework skills like Professionalism in the classroom. As corporal of her program’s Junior Police Academy at The Townview Law Magnet (Texas), Serrano sets an example by passing dress code inspections, diffusing conflict situations and helping to find solutions. “Not only has this brought me success in my criminal justice program,” she explains, “it has taught me how to be an asset in other career fields and situations.”

Read more about Dianna Serrano’s story.

Kayla Ketterling — National High School Vice President

“CTE allows students to explore new career paths and learn through meaningful, hands-on experience.”

National high school vice president Kayla Ketterling believes CTE students who explore new career paths and learn through meaningful hands-on experience are more confident and better prepared to enter the workforce. In addition to important technical skills, she also stresses the value of crucial life skills learned in CTE programs. Ketterling credits a team project completed with her peers at Cheyenne (Wyo.) Central High School for teaching her the importance of the Framework skill of Work Ethic. “I knew that work ethic would be the key to success for my team,” she says. “Everyone’s projects were completed, but my team’s work ethic allowed our project to shine.”

Read more about Kayla Ketterling’s story.

Ryan Tinder — National High School Secretary

“I believe career and technical education gives students the opportunity to take real, impactful strides toward the career of their choice.”

National high school secretary Ryan Tinder, a Pre-Engineering student at Canadian Valley (Okla.) Technology Center, believes career and technical education enables students to find their passions and develop them into successful careers through hands-on learning experiences. Tinder credits the opportunity to demonstrate the Framework skill of Communication for helping him develop his ability to articulate complex projects and explain the impact of his program’s work. Tinder says that his SkillsUSA experience has enabled him to confidently convey his messages.

Read more about Ryan Tinder’s story.

Sarah Romanko — National College/Postsecondary President

“I believe that career and technical education gives students the opportunity to find out what they are passionate about.”

National college/postsecondary president and Entrepreneurship student Sarah Romanko values the role CTE plays in allowing students to explore their passion, gain a sense of direction and pursue meaningful, enjoyable and purposeful careers. Romanko, who attends the University of Texas at Dallas, places special emphasis on the development of the Framework skill Leadership, a skill she has developed through her participation in the SkillsUSA Entrepreneurship competition. “Having this experience has not only helped me in my CTE program,” she reflects. “It will also help me lead teams in my future career.”

Read more about Sarah Romanko’s story.

Tarik Barnes — National High School President

“Integrating written curriculum and hands-on learning experiences through CTE promotes self-expression and career readiness, which allows students to explore future career options.”

National high school president Tarik Barnes, a Health Science student at Cleveland (Texas) High School, believes career and technical education helps students articulate career interests through professional connections, industry resources and scenario-based experiences. Barnes emphasizes the importance of classroom learning and hands-on career experience through the development of Framework skills like Professional Development. Barnes says connecting with industry mentors and applying new learning to his development has allowed him to see the impact of bridging written curriculum and industry exposure.

Read more about Tarik Barnes’s story.

Abberah Nasir — Region 3 Vice President

“CTE allows the student body to connect and develop as a whole with others that share the same interest while enhancing their professional skills.”

Region 3 vice president and Pre-Nursing student Abberah Nasir knows that connecting students with each other and with industry professionals is one of the greatest benefits of career and technical education. Nasir, who is a student at Fairfield (Ohio) Career Center, believes CTE programs provide pathways for students to find their passion by giving them access to hands-on learning and preparing them for the future workforce. Through her CTE program, Nasir learned the importance of education and the Framework skill Responsibility. It’s a skill she knows will help to shape her future.  

Read more about Abberah Nasir’s story.

Alexis Gamez — Region 2 Vice President

“CTE programs are the foundation of learning for students who have desires to develop skills throughout the career they wish to pursue.”

Alexis Gamez, a Nursing student at Leesburg (Fla.) High School and SkillsUSA’s Region 2 vice president, believes that learning environments designed to strengthen technical and employability skills prepare students for their chosen career pathways. Through her SkillsUSA chapter’s events, Gamez has had opportunities to practice and develop her Framework skills of Planning, Organizing and Management, even shadowing the chapter’s senior committee to increase her exposure to hands-on learning. “I have been able to set up and host many successful events,” Gamez reports.

Read more about Alexis Gamez’s story.

Xiomara Schultz — National College/Postsecondary Vice President

“I believe career and technical education allows students of any background to pursue an education of their choice in a field they enjoy.”

National college/postsecondary vice president and Cosmetology student Xiomara Schultz believes that instructor support and industry involvement better enable CTE students to take the futures into their own hands. Schultze, who attends Tulsa (Okla.) Technical Center, emphasized the opportunities CTE students have to focus on the Framework skill of Professional Development. Schultz and her peers gained invaluable exposure to the job-seeking process through their school’s mock job interview event. “I left my mock interview that day with a new sense of confidence in my professional development,” Schults explains, “secure in the knowledge that I could determine my future, and it could start with something as simple as a handshake.”

Read more about Xiomara Schultz’s story.

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