Eleven Cuesta College career and technical education students have qualified for the state finals of SkillsUSA in April.

“It just goes to prove that the quality of instruction and the dedication of our students is as good or better here than anywhere else in the state,” said John Stokes, Cuesta’s engineering and technology division chair, who oversees the college’s SkillsUSA team.

SkillsUSA is the national organization for students in trade, industrial, technical and health occupations education. It sponsors the SkillsUSA Championships held annually in Missouri to recognize the achievements of students and to encourage them to strive for excellence and pride in their occupations.

Five Cuesta students who traveled to Salinas for the Feb. 2 regional qualifier will join six classmates at the state finals scheduled April 4-7 at the Town & Country Resort and Conference Center in San Diego’s Mission Valley.

Qualifying were two auto service technology students: gold medalist Michael Mullen, who earned gold as a high school student at the 2011 national contest; and silver medalist Melissa Perozzi, another San Luis Obispo High grad; two welders, gold medalist Simon Rowe, who earned a bronze at last year’s national convention, and Faith Foster, who took home silver; and Eva Saucedo earned a gold medal in culinary arts. Saucedo placed 20th in culinary arts at the 2012 national finals.

Also competing Feb. 2 was Chris Dickinson, who received a bronze medal in auto service technology. Gold and silver medalists advance to the state finals.

Six students who competed at the Jan. 26 regional contest in Hayward also are San Diego-bound: Nic Peterson, gold medalist in motorcycle service tech; Travis Livingstone, who took gold in collision repair; silver medalist Gary Griswold in auto refinishing; and a welding fabrication team — Jon Ellery, Patrick Hickey and Ryan May — who earned gold.

In addition, Grace Stokes, an incoming freshman from Santa Margarita, will run for state office in San Diego.

Nearly 10,000 spectators — including teachers, parents and business partners — are expected to attend the 49th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Mo., on June 24-28. The conference attracts than 5,000 of the nation’s best career and technical education students — all state contest winners — who will compete hands-on in nearly 100 different trade, technical and leadership fields.

Jay Thompson | (805) 546-3100, ext. 2636 | Email: jay_thompson@cuesta.edu | Posted Feb. 19, 2013