SANFORD, N.C. - Central Carolina Community College student Rosalio "Leo" Avalos of Sanford won the gold medal for Internetworking in the recent SkillsUSA national championships in Atlanta, Ga.
SkillsUSA is an organization supporting development of career and technical skills for students in middle school, high school, and college. The SkillsUSA Mission Statement: "SkillsUSA empowers its members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens. We improve the quality of our nation's future skilled workforce through the development of SkillsUSA Framework skills that include personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics. Our vision is to produce the most highly skilled workforce in the world, providing every member the opportunity for career success."
Three other CCCC students who were first-place winners in the state SkillsUSA championships and competing in the national event were Claudia Castro-Reyes of Cameron (Commercial Baking), Gerald Jones of Benson (Motorcycle Service Technology), and Robben Kadish of Spring Lake (Welding Sculpture).
Avalos says he was filled with a sense of accomplishment when accepting his gold medal. "I knew my wife was watching and I threw my hand up as if to say, 'We did it!' I've been trying to wrap my head around the idea of being a national champion," said Avalos, who notes that he chose CCCC because of the school's support for military veterans. "The more I think about it, I begin to realize how much more this accomplishment means. I went up against the best of every state. After placing first in North Carolina, I knew that in order to do well at nationals I had to keep practicing and reading."
John Ainsworth, CCCC IT - Networking Instructor, had praise for Avalos and his classmates. "Leo and his classmates are some of the most dedicated networking students I've had the great pleasure to teach. If the original goal had been something like, 'Go and have fun, be ready for next year,' then Leo certainly exceeded that by miles," said Ainsworth.
"I am so proud of Leo and the networking classmates who helped him get there. His participation afforded him the opportunity to directly speak with Cisco employees (judges at the competition) and I believe something really good will be coming out of that, if that's the path he chooses to take. He -- and the team -- now have a few more options than they had previously, and the training process has just made them all that much better at their craft."
Two of Avalos' CCCC classmates - Ernesto Jimenez Flores of Sanford and Minerva Martos Rodarte of Cameron - finished second and third, respectively, in the North Carolina SkillsUSA championships. Avalos, Flores, and Rodarte were all first-year CCCC students. They were joined in the state competition by classmates Kyle Leach of Goldston and Zachary Short of Sanford.
"We started training for the competition back in January," said Ainsworth. "Leo actually convinced some of his classmates (also first-year students) to give the competition a try."
Avalos notes that SkillsUSA mentors and prepares students for the job market. "It tests your knowledge as well as your communication and problem-solving skills. These skills are highly sought after when you are looking to pursue a career," he said.
The national Internetworking competition consisted of five parts - network design, troubleshooting, end-to-end equipment configuration, TAC (technical assistance center) call, and a written exam.
Avalos said his two key takeaways from the competition were having the knowledge about the system and being able to communicate with the customer. "Whether it's assisting them with a technical difficulty or delivering a presentation, we must keep in mind who our audience is," said Avalos.
Central Carolina Community College SkillsUSA Advisers include John Ainsworth, Charles Bell, Scott Butcher, Kathryn Horrell, Regina Minter, and Jason Rouse.
Butcher had praise for all four of the CCCC students who competed in the national event. "As an advisor to the CCCC SkillsUSA chapter, I can honestly say that I have watched these four individuals grow into the champions that they did not know they were by participating in a national contest for each of their skills areas. I have seen first-hand the countless hours of preparation that goes into their craft by studying programming techniques, practicing recipes, practicing welds, and reading motorcycle service manuals," said Butcher. "These students not only prepared for the SkillsUSA national conference, but continued to finish their work for the remainder of their classes while at the conference. Their dedication to their own success is inspirational and they deserve every accolade they receive. Medal or not -- they are all champions in my book."
Butcher said the instructors and administration at CCCC "work closely to follow the framework that SkillsUSA provides to empower its members to become the world-class workers that we know they can be," said Butcher. "These advisors put in countless hours setting up resume review sessions, working with industry partners to put the students in front of them to help mentor their students to become the best they can be. They encourage the students and push them because they see the potential in them -- not only to be great employees, but good stewards of their communities."
Avalos had special thanks for his advisor, John Ainsworth. "Without his guidance, I wouldn't have made it this far," said Avalos. "It's people like him that highlight the reason why I chose to go to and obtain my degree from CCCC."
Avalos says he is pursuing a degree in Information Technology General as well as a diploma in Network Administration.
For more information on Central Carolina Community College, visit www.cccc.edu.
Central Carolina Community College student Rosalio Avalos (center) is pictured receiving his gold medal for Internetworking at the recent SkillsUSA national championships in Atlanta, Ga.
Four Central Carolina Community College students competed at the recent SkillsUSA national championships in Atlanta, Ga. They are, left to right: Rosalio Avalos, Robben Kadish, Gerald Jones, and Claudia Castro-Reyes.
Rosalio Avalos, Ernesto Jimenez Flores, and Minerva Martos Rodarte finished first, second and third, respectively, in the North Carolina SkillsUSA championships in the Internetworking category.