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ChattState Celebrates SkillsUSA Statewide Winners Ahead of National Competition

June 27, 2024 | Payton Potter | Student Success

A SkillsUSA competitor from ChattState runs through a banner before boarding a bus to SkillsUSA nationals in Atlanta.

CHATTANOOGA, TN -- Students, faculty, and community leaders gathered on Chattanooga State Community College’s campus on Monday to celebrate the success of more than 30 competitors before they departed for the SkillsUSA national competition in Atlanta. 

All told, 33 students who won gold medals at the statewide level of SkillsUSA continued on to compete at the national level, more than any other community college in Tennessee.  

SkillsUSA Co-Lead Adviser Mike Mercer said SkillsUSA is an important opportunity for many students because it gives them access to the industry leaders responsible for hiring graduates. 

“The people who are judging these events are industry partners," he said. "I have seen people get jobs from a mock interview; I’ve seen people get jobs from a competition.” 

Among the attendees at the send-off event was Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly, who said technical education is about more than just developing hard skills—it’s about discovering a vocation. 

“What is so great about ChattState is that it gives you so many options to discover what makes your heart sing,” Kelly said. “The secret to life, I'm discovering, is not money, per se. It is meaningful work and getting paid for doing something you love.” 

ChattState President Dr. Rebecca Ashford joined Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp, Tennessee Board of Regents member Tom White, and ChattState alumna Abby Johnson to wish competitors luck at the national competition. 

“It is an honor and a privilege to celebrate our SkillsUSA state gold medalists who are on their way to the national championships,” Dr. Ashford said. “SkillsUSA is sort of like the Olympics of career and technical education.” 

Students look on as ChattState alumna Abby Jacobs speaks in a glass auditorium.

A SkillsUSA competitor high-fives a ChattState faculty member before boarding a bus to Atlanta.

ChattState student John Jordan raises his hands in the air before boarding a bus to SkillsUSA's national competition in Atlanta.

Tennessee Board of Regents member Tom White addresses SkillsUSA competitors.

Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp speaks at ChattState's SkillsUSA send-off event.