Tag Archives: SkillsUSA

TSTC Student to Compete for Third Time at SkillsUSA Nationals

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – The saying goes that all good things come in threes, and Texas State Technical College nursing student Kacee Merrifield hopes that saying will ring true for her.

Merrifield will represent Texas and TSTC for the third time at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, in late June.

A Mineral Wells native, Merrifield is enrolled in the LVN to RN Transition program and working toward an Associate of Applied Science degree. Previously she had earned a Vocational Nursing certificate from TSTC.

During her time at TSTC, Merrifield has competed at SkillsUSA three years in a row, winning state all three times and placing nationally twice.

“It’s a very validating feeling when you get to test your skills against others in your industry. But it’s so much more than just winning a medal,” Merrifield said.

SkillsUSA is a national partnership between students, teachers and industries working together to ensure that America has a skilled workforce.

In 2017 Merrifield placed first in state for Health Knowledge Bowl, continuing on to win fourth place at nationals. In 2018 she won first place in state for Nurse Assisting and sixth at nationals. She competed in Practical Nursing this year and won first place.

“I really love SkillsUSA and what it does for me and for others. A big part of being a nurse is people skills, and at SkillsUSA you meet so many people and work with so many different personalities (that) you really get to practice that skill on top of all your other skills,” Merrifield said.

During the Practical Nursing competition, Merrifield will take both a written test and a hands-on test. She will work with a volunteer and perform various tasks.

“We practice everything from medications to vital signs to wound care and even what we would delegate to someone else; it’s a real-world environment,” she said.

With such an impressive record, it is no surprise that her instructors are proud of her.

Marchelle Taylor is TSTC’s Vocational Nursing program director in West Texas and the West Texas SkillsUSA coordinator.

“Kacee has been a huge success story in the TSTC nursing program,” Taylor said. “She has worked full time, attended classes and helped other contestants prepare for Skills competitions.  It is students with her dedication and work ethic that make teaching at TSTC such an honor.”

Merrifield says the best part of going to SkillsUSA nationals again is the chance to meet more people.

“My favorite thing has to be talking with other nursing students, learning what is different in each state and getting to learn more about this career field. SkillsUSA is really amazing. I really encourage anyone who has the opportunity to go,” Merrifield said.

She is expected to graduate in summer 2019.

For more information about TSTC, log on to tstc.edu.

Kacee Merrifield, pictured above, is a three-time state champion in various nursing competitions for SkillsUSA. This year she will compete in Practical Nursing at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in late June. 
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TSTC Student Veteran to Compete at SkillsUSA Nationals

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – From serving his country overseas to serving his local community, Texas State Technical College student James Phillips III has dedicated his life to helping others.

Phillips, a Big Spring native, is an Army veteran and a Vocational Nursing student at TSTC. He recently competed at the state-level SkillsUSA Postsecondary Leadership and Skills Conference, where he placed first in CPR Skills.

“I’m still kind of surprised I got first place. I wasn’t expecting it, but I was very excited,” Phillips said.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure that America has a skilled workforce. More than 18,000 people, including students, teachers and business partners, are expected to participate in the national event.

Phillips will represent Texas and TSTC at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, on June 24-28.

Phillips was first introduced to CPR training during his time with the military. He enlisted in the Army in 1999 as a helicopter mechanic before serving in the Army’s Special Forces until 2008.

“We needed to know the basics of medical care and act as a first responder, so we learned CPR skills and other first-responder skills,” he said.

When Phillips is not at school or practicing for SkillsUSA, he is working as a certified nursing assistant at the George H. O’Brien Jr. VA Medical Center in Big Spring.

“It’s a way for me to give back to other veterans but also to be around other nurses and keep learning,” Phillips said.

Phillips stands out to his instructors and classmates not only as an excellent student, but also as the only male in the program.

“Bless his heart. He is the only guy in the class right now, so he’s very protective of the other students and a perfect gentleman. He has been a model student who goes above and beyond. I just can’t say enough good about him,” TSTC vocational nursing instructor Sharon Zetzman-Sparks said.

Being a male nurse is something Phillips knows may be uncommon, but he encourages anyone with a desire to help people to consider the career field.

“It’s something different every day. You keep learning new things, and there is a huge job demand. Being a nurse is very rewarding,” Phillips said.

Phillips is expected to graduate in fall 2019.

For more information about TSTC, go to www.tstc.edu.

TSTC Student Veteran to Compete at SkillsUSA Nationals

James Phillips III is an Army veteran and vocational nursing student at Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater. He will compete in CPR Skills at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

TSTC Student Overcomes Health Issues to Compete at SkillsUSA Nationals

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Sometimes all a person needs is a second chance.

Katherin “Leif” Brown, a Texas State Technical College Computer Networking and Systems Administration student, will proudly represent Texas and TSTC in the Telecommunications Cabling competition at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, on June 24-28.

Undaunted by a health condition, Brown competed at the state-level SkillsUSA Postsecondary Leadership and Skills Conference two years in a row. She finally earned a spot at nationals on her second try.

“When I found out I was going to nationals, I was shocked and then surprised and then like, is this really happening?” Brown said.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure that America has a skilled workforce. More than 18,000 people, including students, teachers and business partners, are expected to participate in the national event.

Last year, just before Brown was set to compete for the first time, she was diagnosed with Addison’s disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Addison’s disease is caused by insufficient production of certain hormones.

“I have to be careful and really listen to my body. I can’t get too stressed. But if this has taught me anything, it’s that I’m strong enough to do anything,” Brown said.

Despite the challenges she overcomes daily, Brown is working hard to represent TSTC well at SkillsUSA.

“It’s something I have really enjoyed doing, and I feel it’s really helped me,” Brown said. “This is a job skill that will come into play in the real world, so this is extra practice at it.”

One person helping Brown to prepare is Computer Networking and Systems Administration instructor and SkillsUSA advisor Renee Blackshear.

“SkillsUSA helps open doors and serves to motivate students to put forth their best efforts and demonstrate their individual abilities to help close the skills gap,” Blackshear said. “Katherin has been an active member of our SkillsUSA team, and we look forward to supporting her in her preparations for nationals.”

Brown hopes to encourage others not only to be vigilant in their personal health, but also to pursue their passions.

“Don’t let anything stop you. Just pick yourself up and keep going,” Brown said.

For more information about TSTC, go to www.tstc.edu.

TSTC Student Overcomes Health Issues to Compete at SkillsUSA Nationals

Katherin “Leif” Brown will represent the state of Texas and TSTC at the 2019 National Leadership and Skills Conference. She will compete in Telecommunications Cabling.

TSTC Nursing Student Prepares for Three-peat at SkillsUSA

(SWEETWATER) – Winning is so nice, she did it twice. Now Kacee Merrifield wants it again, and so does one of her classmates.

Merrifield is a nursing student enrolled in the associate degree program at Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater. She has competed at SkillsUSA two years in a row, winning state both times and placing nationally.

“It’s a very validating feeling when you get to test your skills against others in your industry, but it’s so much more than just winning a medal,” Merrifield said.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. In 2017 Merrifield placed first in state for Health Knowledge Bowl, continuing on to win fourth at nationals. In 2018 she won first in state for Nurse Assisting and sixth at nationals. She will compete in Practical Nursing this year.

“I love that SkillsUSA offers a platform to meet other professionals. You meet so many people and make friends and get to travel. I really enjoyed what Skills has done for me,” Merrifield said.

Hoping to win his second first-place title is fellow nursing student Corbin Calsoncin. Calsoncin and Merrifield both graduated from TSTC in Breckenridge with a certificate of completion in Vocational Nursing in 2018. Calsoncin is also currently enrolled in the nursing program at TSTC in Sweetwater.

“I was nervous my first couple times I competed, but I feel better now and am more prepared,” Calsoncin said.

Calsoncin placed second at state in Medical Math in 2017, but placed first in Math in 2018 and went on to place ninth at nationals. Calsoncin will compete in Medical Math again this year.

Not only do Merrifield and Calsoncin compete in SkillsUSA at the collegiate level, but they also judge the high school level.

“Judging is a chance for them to give back and share their experiences with others,” Marchelle Taylor, TSTC nursing instructor and West Texas SkillsUSA coordinator, said. “Skills allows them to interact with other students and industry around the state and nation.”

Merrifield and Calsoncin will compete at the SkillsUSA 2019 Leadership and Skills Conference on April 12-14 at TSTC in Waco.

Both students encourage anyone interested in nursing to visit TSTC and take advantage of the opportunities available with SkillsUSA.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, log on to tstc.edu.

TSTC in Sweetwater nursing students Corbin Calsoncin, left, and Kacee Merrifield, right, prepare to compete at SkillsUSA in April. 

TSTC Student Veteran Uses Education to Fuel Future

(Sweetwater) – How would you define a hero? As a parent? As a soldier? Texas State Technical College student Roy Banda is all of that and more.

Banda, 32, is a former Marine now pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in Diesel Equipment Technology at TSTC in Sweetwater while fostering five children at home in Brownwood.

“I was working in a factory, with no way to move up anymore. So I talked to my wife, and now I’m using my GI Bill to create a career,” Banda said.

Banda served four years in the Marine Corps as a rifleman between 2007 and 2011, with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“My time in the Marines helped me a lot with discipline, obedience and work ethic in everyday actions and now school,” Banda said.

One example of Banda’s self-discipline is his dedication to be early for class each day, despite an almost two-hour commute.

“I drive half the distance Roy does every day, and he still manages to get here before me,” Mark Koslan, master instructor for DET, said. “He is dedicated, he’s a family man, he’s a veteran, and I have a lot of respect for him and his initiative to find a career path.”

Even though Banda attends school full time, he and his wife have a houseful of six kids, five of whom are foster children they plan to adopt.

“We decided to foster just to help out, then fell in love with them,” Banda said.

Banda will compete in Diesel Equipment Technology at the SkillsUSA 2019 Postsecondary Leadership and Skills Conference on April 12-14 at TSTC in Waco.

“I was nervous when I first agreed because I hadn’t really had any mechanical training before TSTC. But, just in the couple semesters I’ve been here I feel much more confident,” Banda said.  “One of the Marine Corps’ mottos is to adapt and overcome, so I’ll use that.”

Banda is expected to graduate in spring 2020 and plans to build a positive reputation so he can open a shop of his own.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, log on to tstc.edu.

TSTC in Sweetwater Diesel Equipment Technology student, veteran and parent Roy Banda, will compete at SkillsUSA in April.