ECC students shine at SkillsUSA national championship

Updated 6/30/2022 12:57 PM

Elgin Community College career and technical students traveled to Atlanta, Ga., to compete in the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference held June 20-24.

Meralia Gómez earned fifth place nationally and a Skills Points certificate for her customer service skills. The cybersecurity team of Deborah Culajay and Bryant Velasco placed eighth in the nation.


"I'm proud of our accomplishments as a team," said Culajay. "The competition allowed us to prove ourselves and reveal what we are capable of. We didn't just gain knowledge and skills but also a family."

A total of nine ECC students competed in six categories: Culinary Arts, Customer Service, Cybersecurity, Welding, Welding Fabrication, and Welding Sculpture. The ECC delegates won gold in their categories in the Illinois State Championship contest held in April.

Representing ECC at the national level were:

• Culinary Arts: Brendan Schoneberg (Huntley)

• Customer Service: Meralia Gómez (Carpentersville)

• Cybersecurity Team: Debora Culajay (Elgin) and Bryant Velasco (Streamwood), who replaced Yeung Ming Li for the national competition.

• Welding: William J. Lietzow III (Winfield)

by signing up you agree to our terms of service

• Welding Fabrication Team: Nicholas Grobe (Sugar Grove), Noah Hercl (South Elgin), and Travis Jones (Algonquin)

• Welding Sculpture: Saffron Bruno (St. Charles).

The students competing were accompanied by Welding Team Advisor Tom Limberis, welding instructor, Yolonda Barnes, associate dean of sustainability, business, and career technologies, and Susan Timm, EdD, professor of business and Business Team Advisor.

"We knew the competition was stiff as everyone competing was at the top in their state," said Timm. "We networked, learned new skills, honed older skills, and pushed ourselves beyond what we thought was imaginable. We come back to Illinois with our heads held high, knowing we represented well our state and Elgin Community College."

Photos and additional details about their experience are posted on the Spartan Project: Student Entrepreneurship Club Facebook page.

SkillsUSA is an organization for technical, skilled, health, and personal service occupations students in high school and college. More than 302,000 members belong to over 14,000 chapters in 55 U.S. states and territorial associations.


Get articles sent to your inbox.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.