Penn College Grads, Students Among SkillsUSA Medalists
Two new Pennsylvania College of Technology alumni, a returning student and a recent high school graduate who simultaneously enrolled in college courses last year were among medalists at the 44th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference held June 23-28 in Kansas City, Mo.
The SkillsUSA championships were held in H. Roe Bartle Hall and Municipal Auditorium, where more than 5,000 career- and technical-education students competed hands-on in nearly 100 trade, technical and leadership fields. Competitors all of whom qualified via success in statewide events worked against the clock and one another, proving their expertise in occupations ranging from electronics and computer-aided drafting to precision machining and health sciences.
Winning gold medals were Daniel C. Fantoni, of Grand Isle, Vt., vying in the Aviation Maintenance Technology category, and Jordan R. Hill, of Picture Rocks, who competed in Preschool Teaching Assistant. Fantoni graduated in May with a bachelor's degree in aviation maintenance technology and an associate degree in aviation technology. At the time she qualified for nationals, Hill was a Hughesville High School student dually enrolled at the college and at Lycoming Career & Technology Center; she will be a full-time Penn College student this fall in the early childhood education major.
Carl F. Gravely, of Arona, brought home second-place honors in Industrial Motor Control, and Westley A. Smith, of Mifflinburg, was a third-place winner in Welding. Gravely graduated in May with a bachelor's degree in building automation technology and an associate degree in electrical technology, and Smith is starting his junior year as a welding and fabrication engineering technology major.
Other student competitors who advanced to nationals by winning gold medals in April's state competition in Hershey were Sarah J. Dries, of Milton, in the Food and Beverage category; and Matthew R. Ernst, Hanover, in Collision Repair Technology. Ernst earned an associate degree in collision repair technology in May; Dries is a culinary arts and systems student.
"The team fit together well this year, as we all went out to do what we do best: show the skills we were taught by Penn College faculty and staff," Gravely said. "I was really hoping for the gold this year, as last year I placed second, as well. But even getting to SkillsUSA national competition is an accomplishment, as national contestants are the top 2 percent of high school and college students!"
Gravely, who was the college's first recipient of the Student Leader Legacy Scholarship in 2007 and was this spring's Academic Vice President/Provost Award-winner, said the three-story Bartle Hall so large that two interstates pass beneath it is a must-see, as it is transformed for competition in 91 different categories in just a week's time.
"Winning at national competition just goes to show that the electrical and building automation faculty have taught me over the past four years to be one of the best in the nation, and to me, that's quite an accomplishment and a selling tool for a lifetime," he added. "I want to thank all instructors, staff and administration for the education, dedication and support of SkillsUSA over the years. I believe the sacrifices have paid off."
Edward L. Roadarmel, assistant professor of drafting and computer aided design, and Roy H. Klinger, instructor of collision repair, accompanied the students as faculty advisers to the college's SkillsUSA chapter.
SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving 285,000 teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for trade, technical and skilled services occupations. For more information about Penn College, visit online , e-mail or call toll-free (800) 367-9222.