For the 12th year in a row, Cuesta College Career Education students have qualified to compete at the State level in the SkillsUSA California 51st Annual State Leadership and Skill Conference (April 19th – 22nd, 2018). Twenty-two Cuesta College students competed at a February 10th regional competition held at Paso Robles High School. The students earned 21 medals*; 14 gold, five silver, and two bronze. The 20 qualifying students will soon head to Ontario, CA, to compete in 11 different contest areas.

“The skill level of our students and faculty advisors is truly top notch, and we continue to prove that our programs, faculty and students are the best of the best,” said John Stokes, Cuesta College’s engineering and technology division chair, who oversees the college’s SkillsUSA team.

“We are preparing these students for careers in areas like welding, automotive services, plumbing, electrical engineering, and much more. SkillsUSA allows the students to refine their hands-on training and skills while learning soft skills, which sets them up for success in today’s workforce.”

The 2018 regional medaling students are:

  • Gold, Rich Lock, Automotive Service
  • Gold, Alexandra Newsom, Criminal Justice
  • Gold, Milan Tolani, Early Childhood Education
  • Gold, Daniel Gowdy, Electrical Construction Wiring
  • Gold, Ben Braun, Information Technology Services
  • Gold, Mason Steiner, Plumbing
  • Gold, Jeremy Fleming, Related Technical Math
  • Gold, Jonathan Righetti, Welding Combination
  • Gold, Nicholas Hasch, Welding Fabrication
  • Gold, Braden Abatti, Welding Fabrication
  • Gold, Michael Dye, Welding Fabrication
  • Gold, Mikayla Stone, Welding Sculpture
  • Gold, Nathan Heaston, Welding - Oxyacetylene
  • Gold, Alfredo Saucedo, Welding - Shielded Metal Arc
  • Silver, Edith Salgado, Early Childhood Education
  • Silver, Eric Smith, Electrical Construction Wiring
  • Silver, Salome Fonseca, Welding Combination
  • Silver, Jared Thompson, Welding Sculpture
  • Silver, Andrew Winfrey, Welding - Shielded Metal Arc
  • Bronze, Matthew Nish, Information Technology Services
  • Bronze, *Onesimo Galarza, Welding Combination

The national championships, where all State gold medalists are invited to compete, is set for June 25th – 29th, 2018, in Louisville, KY. Last year, 12 Cuesta College students qualified for the national competition; student Daniel McFarlane brought home the gold in related technical math. In August 2015, alumnus Michael Mullen competed in the WorldSkills International competition, representing the United States in auto service technology. In 2011, former Cuesta College student Daniel Lehmkuhl competed in automobile technology at WorldSkills International in London. Both are San Luis Obispo natives.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives, working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. For more information on SkillsUSA, visit their website. For more information about Cuesta College’s Career Education Programs, visit