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My National Officer Journey

Guest author Troy Barrera, the 2023-2024 National Region 5 Vice President, shares his experience of preparing and running for national office.
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Photo courtesy of Troy Barrera.

It was then – holding my now nine teammates, as sparks flew around the stage, my advisors and fellow members cheering, and tears flowing – that I knew that months of my hard work had paid off, and that was just the beginning! Serving as a SkillsUSA 2023-24 national officer has been the opportunity of a lifetime. Over the past seven months, through social media, I have been excited to bring others along with me. Today, I want to show you behind the scenes, the steps I took, and the commitment I made to get this amazing opportunity.

The Inspiration

Thanks to my state advisors, the idea of becoming a national officer was always a possibility in my mind. When I went to my first SkillsUSA National Leadership & Skills Conference (NLSC) as a state officer, I already had the idea that I could one day be a national officer on stage at the Opening and Awards Sessions. Not only did I think about how awesome it would be to lead the sessions and speak on that huge stage, but how surreal it would be to be able to serve others and help amplify their voice on a national level. To be able to serve an organization and mission that is bigger than myself would be incredible. So, after months of state officer work, and the realization that with SkillsUSA I am capable of so much, I decided to put my future into my own hands. On Dec. 10, 2022, I started working toward running for national office.


I began by reviewing the National Officer Program Guide and working with my state advisor to come up with a game plan. I knew that the next six months would be crucial to my success. From signing up for the Career Essentials Advanced Course to gathering support letters from my advisor, state director and my school administration, I had a lot to do. I had to ensure I had every step planned and not miss anything.

I also took measurable steps to increase my comfort with my social media presence. I created my own SkillsUSA social media account, made informational posts about my experience as a state officer and engaged with other states and members. Enhancing my social media presence not only allowed me to connect with fellow members but pushed me to make quality content that could inspire other state associations. I also knew if I became a national officer, I would use social media to connect with members all around the country.

Having my SkillsUSA Nevada state team support me through the process played a significant role. With their motivation, the numerous resources they provided and the preparation they assisted with, I was able to grow in my journey. If it weren’t for my state team fostering my occupational and leadership growth and showing me the power SkillsUSA has to change lives (including mine), I’m not sure I would be where I am today.

The Campaign

After months of work, the first big moment in my journey had arrived: the written exam. This is where my knowledge of the SkillsUSA Member Handbook and the national bylaws would come into play. This was one of the scariest moments of my entire journey. I felt confident that I knew the content since I had spent hours reviewing notecards and studying the bylaws and the handbook, but I was still worried. As it turns out, it was a daunting, but fair test. I was tested on the basic knowledge that all SkillsUSA members who want to lead the organization should know. I was relieved that I received above a 75% score, and I entered the 2023 NLSC with the confidence that I knew SkillsUSA and was ready to dive into the on-site experience!

Once there, it all flew by as there was so much to keep me occupied. In the informational meetings, I saw my fellow candidates in person for the first time. In the delegate sessions, prior to my candidacy being announced, I heard others talk about who they thought the candidates might be. Then, once I was introduced on stage, I could finally tell all my new friends about it. In the Meet the Candidate sessions, I was filled with both excitement and nerves as I met like-minded individuals who were just as passionate about SkillsUSA as I am.

Delivering the speech that I wrote, revised and practiced for over a month went just as I had imagined, and when answering the problematic question, it felt so surreal. From having to wait in a closed room, to standing in front of over 500 members knowing my answer was crucial to my success, then having multiple state associations stand and applaud after I answered, my heart filled with true joy. At the end of the day, while it was hard to not think about the campaign, I took time for myself and called loved ones, spent time with my state team and tried to relax.

I’ll always remember how nervous I was at the beginning of the conference when I walked on stage to be announced as a candidate at the Opening Session. By the end of the week, all I wanted was to be on that stage. When I was announced as a 2023-2024 national officer and went on stage at the Awards Session, I cried from joy looking at over 15,000 SkillsUSA members in that stadium who represented over 380,000 members that I would serve for the next year.

Barrera taking the national officer oath onstage with his newly elected teammates at the 2023 National Leadership & Skills Conference.


Nine months later, I can confidently say the national officer journey has been the experience of a lifetime. Gradually and steadily, I have grown as an individual and a leader. I have enhanced my skills in planning, organizing and management and developed stronger self-motivation. I worked toward my goals and did not let the inevitable bumps in the road discourage me.

I also learned the value of effective decision-making. Every day we must make decisions, but it’s making hard decisions carefully that truly makes a difference. Prioritizing SkillsUSA was worth it because I became a more confident leader.

As a national officer, I have received phenomenal training and have achieved more than the Troy of two years ago would have ever thought possible. I have hosted a national conference and helped members grow their leadership and advocacy skills. I am a part of a national diversity, equity and inclusion workgroup and have explored my interests by creating content for the national social media SkillsUSA accounts. I have gained invaluable opportunities to develop my skills as a future member of the workforce by integrating what I’ve learned in my CTE class, my workplace experiences and SkillsUSA. All these experiences combined have helped to ensure that I will be career-ready on day one.

Although it can be intimidating to plan months ahead, if you are interested in becoming a national officer and feel you can be counted on to lead and serve SkillsUSA, I encourage you to go for it. You will be tested and challenged but you will grow in so many ways. Look at the National Officer Program Guide and begin taking the necessary steps so that you can be eligible to run for national office! I encourage you to embrace this experience even though it may be scary knowing you might win or lose. Either way, you will leave the NLSC with invaluable experiences that will boost your leadership and career readiness skills. If you are ready to risk boldly, running for SkillsUSA national office could be for you!

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