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Francis Howell senior wins first place in SkillsUSA Competition

Francis Howell North senior Alayia Autoomp [third from right] won first place at the National SkillsUSA Competition

This summer, Francis Howell North senior Alayia Autoomp won first place in the National SkillsUSA Competition.

Autoomp was one of six Lewis & Clark Career Center students to travel to Louisville, Kentucky for the 54th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, the world’s largest showcase of skilled trades and skill competitions.

After several grueling days of competition, Autoomp placed first in the Prepared Speech competition. Mason Aguliar from Francis Howell Central finished 11th in Power Equipment Technology, and Luke Davis from Francis Howell North finished 16th in the nation in Medical Terminology. 

“I had to prepare a speech about the Skills organization that was at least five to seven minutes long and memorize the entire thing, then present it to three judges and a timekeeper,” said Autoomp, an aspiring carpenter. “We can only be successful if we’re prepared to be successful. There are three main things that SkillsUSA helps its members with – workplace skills, technical skills and personal skills. I talked about how SkillsUSA helps members to be prepared for the real world after high school, which makes them all a champion in their own way.”

More than 15,000 students, teachers and education leaders joined representatives from 600 national corporations and trade associations to participate in the competition. This invitation-only event was for first place state medalists in 100 competition areas for career and technical students. Autoomp, Aguliar and Davis qualified after gold medal finishes at the Missouri state competition in April.

Autoomp says the experience has changed the way she perceives school and herself.

“It makes me very happy. Honestly, I haven’t always been the most confident kid in school,” Autoomp said. “High school has so many people. It’s really hard to stand out even if you do have good grades and attendance. Speech is something that I’m good at and having the privilege of competing against the best in the country, it’s really helped my confidence.”

Autoomp will be finishing the Building Trades program at Lewis & Clark in the upcoming school year. Aguliar will be completing his second year in Power Equipment Technology, while Davis graduated from the Health Occupations program at Lewis & Clark in May.

“To place first in the nation is really special and really reflects who Alayia is as a student and a person,” said Dr. Andrew M. Stewart, director of the Lewis & Clark Career Center. “She was phenomenal and very poised in a high-pressure environment.”

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