GTCC students hoping N.C. SkillsUSA competition will give them an edge in their careers

Published on: May 13, 2024
Left, Mary Medlin and Ashleigh Robinson and teammate Pitcha Sartyoungkul at the N.C. SkillsUSA state championship medal ceremony.
Left, Mary Medlin and Ashleigh Robinson and teammate Pitcha Sartyoungkul at the N.C. SkillsUSA state championship medal ceremony.

Ashleigh Robinson and Mary Medlin have very diverse career aspirations.

Robinson is an EMT and is training to become a paramedic at Guilford Technical Community College. Medlin received an associate degree in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC-R) from the college on May 9.

But they were zeroed in on the same goal in the N.C. SkillsUSA state championship, the largest showcase of career and technical education in the state. The championship was held recently in locations throughout the region.

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers, middle school, high school, and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations. Through its local, state, and national competitions, students demonstrate occupational and leadership skills.

Medlin, who is only 18, is in her second year of SkillsUSA competition. For the second straight year, she captured the HVAC-R event, which was held April 12. With the win at the state level, she advances to the national competition, which will be held in Atlanta in June.

Robinson and teammate Pitcha Sartyoungkul finished third in the EMT state competition.

Medlin participated in GTCC’s Career and College Promise program as a high school junior and senior. Career and College Promise offers North Carolina high school students the chance to earn college credits at a community college campus.

Robinson, who is 26 and received a bachelor's degree in physical therapy from a four-year college, decided to pursue a different career route three years ago. She earned her EMT certification from GTCC in 2023 and works in that capacity for Alamance County.

She returned to the college last fall to take another career step and is now working on a paramedic degree.

The regional competition was stressful, but Robinson is accustomed to stressful situations. She works 12 and sometimes 24-hour shifts in her job as an EMT for Alamance County, never knowing what she will face when called out.

“For me (my job) it’s kind of exciting. You just never know but have to have that fear because I have to go save this person who is putting all their trust in me in the worst time of their life,” said Robinson, who says a paramedic certification will allow her to offer more, advanced care for patients.

Both Robinson and Medlin are sure of one thing: The SkillsUSA competition can be a home run for their careers.

“It is something to put on your resume. It makes you stand out from other candidates,” said Robinson.

“It’s a great way to get your name out there,” said Medlin. “It shows what you can do. So many companies look at the Skills competition (when hiring). It definitely looks good.”

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