With his family alongside him, Alexander Cervantes competed at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Ky., in June.

Cervantes had won first place during the Kansas State SkillsUSA welding sculpture competition becoming Dodge City Community College's first state champion, leading him and his family onto the national stage, according to a news release from DCCC.

According to its website, SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA helps each student excel.

Through SkillsUSA Kansas, students from tech schools across the state compete for a chance to showcase their talents at the national conference.

"It’s such a great opportunity to meet people and see how they did things," Cervantes said in the news release. "I guess I didn’t understand how big this all really was."

Being a charter member for over 20 years, DCCC sent Cervantes and his family to the national conference.

"I’m really happy Alexander got to participate in this," said Cervantes' mother, Jenny. "After working so quickly and diligently, and what he’s been through, this week was a well-deserved reward."

Jenny said Cervantes had not learned of the SkillsUSA contest until February and "had to drive two hours home every weekend to help with his dad’s business — so he was under a time crunch from the start."

In talking of the national conference, Cervantes said it was an eye-opening experience.

"I got to experience so much during this week," he said in the news release. "It definitely opened my eyes to all that’s out there. I saw so many things I never would have even thought about and I met other welders and students from all over the country.

"I’m really glad to have had the chance to do this."

DCCC president Harold Nolte also made the trip to the national conference in support of Cervantes and his family.

"What a great experience for Alexander," Nolte said in the news release. "He worked hard on his project and earned his way here. I’m really thankful Alexander had this opportunity through our welding program.

"We produce some brilliant career and technical students, and I hope we can develop more of these kinds of opportunities for them."


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