Whale sharks, the Okefenokee, and Wiregrass Tech
Gold medalists from across the state will be competing at Nationals SKillsUSA in Kentucky this June, wearing the likes of whale sharks, the Okefenokee and Wiregrass Tech. Andrea Jacobsen, Accounting student, and Hope Vaughn, Radiology student, both from Wiregrass, won gold medals at the state SKillsUSA competition in the areas of t-shirt and pin design. Both students’ winning designs are now being made into the t-shirts and pins that all competitors from Georgia will be wearing at nationals. “It’s exciting knowing that technical colleges around the state are having my shirt printed for their Nationals - bound students and advisors,” shared Andrea. “I hope that everyone who wears it is as proud of it as I am!” These ladies were among 26 Wiregrass students who earned gold medals at the SkillsUSA competition in March.
Andrea Jacobsen, a Valdosta campus student, won gold in t-shirt design. This was her first time competing in SkillsUSA. “It is a bit overwhelming to go to nationals to compete against every state that has a gold medal t-shirt design,” shared Jacobsen. As an artist, Andrea had designed t-shirts for the college prior to becoming a student at Wiregrass. After enrolling as a student in the fall, she was approached about joining SkillsUSA and asked to consider participating in the t-shirt design competition.
In designing the t-shirt, Jacobsen first considered what represents the state of Georgia. She took iconic symbols like peaches, pecans, and the Atlanta skyline and made her design. But, once we started working on her speech, it was difficult to explain why it was unique. Three weeks before the competition, she scratched her original sketch and her brainstorming brought her back to when she visited the Georgia Aquarium and fell in love with the whale shark.
Since the Aquarium does so much in the conservation effort, she began to research other efforts and chose ones that represented the different areas of the state. In her design, you will see the coast line with a sea turtle, the bald eagle, and hoof prints in the sand. For the state’s marshland counties, she included the manatee. Representing farmland is the bob white quail, the whale shark represents the Georgia Aquarium, and Centennial Olympic Park represents our metropolitan areas. “We all come from different areas of our state, and using the various conservation efforts of our state as the overall theme, I was able to incorporate elements that represent our state in a creative way,” shared Andrea. Her art background goes back to elementary school and high school where she won several awards for her art work.
Hope Vaughn won gold in the pin design competition. Hope is from Douglas, but commutes to the Valdosta Campus for the Radiology Technology program. Hope says she’s a self-taught artist and has always loved drawing and painting. When trying to decide what her pin design would look like she, like Andrea, took to Georgia’s famous cities and symbols.
“Choosing a design was hard enough, but how do you decide what really represents your state the most?” shared Hope. She asked herself from all her chooses which one really stood out. Then decided on Okefenokee State Park. Hope added, “I went with what made me feel like home. Okefenokee State Park is only an hour from my home and it has the rustic, peaceful feel of stepping onto my back porch.”
When asked how she felt about having folks from all around Georgia wear her pin design she responded, “I am very honored that my design is the design that was chosen to represent Georgia, it was a surreal moment.” She’s ready to go to nationals in June and compete against the other state gold medal winners. Hope joined SKillsUSA because it seemed like a great opportunity to showcase skills that she already possessed such as painting and art. She felt it would be a good way to learn leadership skills and build confidence in herself. Since joining, she shared that being part of SkillsUSA has helped build upon learning opportunities like time management, learning how to use unfamiliar resources, how to present herself before judges and how to navigate an interview.
The Wiregrass SkillsUSA Chapter earned the most medals at state competition including the largest chapter and largest member growth. The Chapter also learned, for the second year in a row, they were one of the top 24 Chapters in the Nation and named a National Model of Excellence chapter. Andrea shared, “SkillsUSA is all about preparing students for their future career, even if you participate in a competition that isn’t directly related to your major, such as mine.” She feels it has helped her with her confidence in what she can produce, and her decision-making skills. Teamwork is an essential part of being a member of SkillsUSA and she has worked with many in the college from her advisors, to different departments, as she prepared for the state competition and is now preparing for nationals.
The 55th annual National SkillsUSA Leadership and Skills Conference I will be held June 24-28 in Louisville, Kentucky. More than 18,000 people- including students, teachers, and business partners are expected to participate in the week-long event. For more information about the SkillsUSA Chapter at Wiregrass or programs at Wiregrass, visit wiregrass.edu.