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SkillsUSA Competition Leads to Graduation Day Job Offer for Wilkes Community College Graduate

June 19, 2012. A.J. Felts so impressed a proctor at the SkillsUSA competition that he landed a job on the day of his college graduation, Friday, May 11. Felts, who received an Associate Degree in Networking Technology, and Chad Spears competed in Internetworking at the state competition in Greensboro on April 18. One of the proctors for the competition, Vernon D’epée, is a Customer Support Engineer II for Cisco Systems, a worldwide leader in computer networking.

“Actually, the proctor was very impressed with both Wilkes Community College Internetworking students, and he recommended A.J. to the company since he was about to graduate,” says Randy Gambill, lead instructor for Networking Technology. “A.J. went through a series of interviews and learned of his job offer on graduation day. Needless to say, he was elated. In fact, A.J. told me how appreciative he was for our college, our program, Hardin Kennedy (SkillsUSA advisor), Michael Wingler (SkillsUSA advisor) and me for encouraging him to compete in SkillsUSA. His words were, ‘I landed this job as a direct result of SkillsUSA and our college!'”

With job offers near impossible to come by, this opportunity was too good to pass up.

Felts and his wife, Heather, relocated to Research Triangle Park, N.C., for his new position as a Technical Services TelePresence Customer Support Engineer II for Cisco.

In an email to Gambill announcing the good news, Felts wrote, “Words cannot describe how happy I am at this point in my life. I want to thank you for everything that you have helped me accomplish during my college career. I want you to know how much I appreciate your enthusiasm for teaching. You have helped me make a dream a reality and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you ever need anything, please let me know. I will keep you updated constantly with pictures and status updates. My wife and I are overjoyed and it’s all because of the education that I received from you and Wilkes Community College.”

All 146 students representing WCC finished in the top 20 in the state competition. Felts brought home a second place award in Internetworking.

“I am always amazed at the level of professionalism and skill demonstrated by our students at the state and national competitions,” says Michael Wingler, who also serves as associate vice president of Information Services at WCC. “I may sound a little biased, but I feel like students from WCC stand out among the rest. And, proudly, our school has earned the reputation for having some of the strongest competitors year after year. Other schools recognize that. Business sponsors recognize that. And, the proctors recognized that, which is what helped A.J. land his new job.”

Felts is enjoying his new position very much. He says, “My new job is simply amazing. Although it is very challenging, I could not ask for anything more than what I have been blessed with. I never imagined that I would be working for a company like Cisco Systems, but thanks to all the leadership, support and encouragement from my instructors, I am living a dream.”

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled work force. It helps each student excel. SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including health occupations.

Wilkes Community College, a member of the North Carolina Community College System, is a public, two-year, open-door institution serving the people of Wilkes, Ashe and Alleghany counties and beyond.