Deidre Durance, a computer information systems student at Okefenokee Technical College (OTC), is gearing up for the competition. Durance will face numerous worthy opponents from colleges and universities across the nation at the annual SkillsUSA Championships this month in Kansas City, Missouri, as she competes in Technical Computer Applications.
The 48th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC), a multi-million dollar event that occupies a space equivalent to 16 football fields, will be held June 23-27, 2012, in Kansas City, Missouri. More than 15,000 people—including students, teachers and business partners—are expected to participate in the week-long event. In 2011, there were more than 5,700 contestants in 94 separate events. Nearly 1,500 judges and contest organizers from labor and management make the national event possible.
The SkillsUSA Championships, a showcase for the best career and technical students in the nation, will be held Tuesday, June 26. The competitions, referred to as championships, allow students to take the skills, knowledge and experience they have gained in the classrooms and labs to a higher level, as contests are based on industry standards, and business leaders design and judge the competition.
In order to be invited to nationals, SkillsUSA competitors must take 1st place at the state conference. Georgia’s SkillsUSA leadership conference was held in Atlanta March 15 – 17. “The competition was brutal at state this year,” commented Eddie Murray, OTC SkillsUSA advisor. “OTC had more students compete this year at state than ever before in the history of the organization,” continued Murray, “and all seventeen of them were solid competitors. Five were medalists, placing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, and just one, Deidre Durance, moved on to nationals.”
Contestants participating in Technical Computer Applications will be scored on a written test, oral presentation, equipment setup, Microsoft Office capabilities, Thunderbird/Google Docs/Firebird skills, Internet capabilities, Windows Operating System capabilities, and collaborative solutions. Points will be deducted for resume errors and inappropriate dress.
During the skill performance portion of the competition, Durance will be expected to expertly perform six technical standards, including install and configure an operating system; install, configure and test a Windows compatible software; and assist in unpacking, setup and repacking of network and computer equipment. One hundred eleven competencies must be demonstrated in order to successfully accomplish the six standards.
“I expect Deidre to do well in Kansas and of course WIN,” states Murray, who is Deidre’s program instructor, as well as her club advisor. Not only has she shown that she knows the information, but she also has proven to be a class leader and gifted in her ability to convey difficult material to others in her study group.”
“As her advisor I would hope that she wins, but mostly, I would like to see her return home, win or lose, with an amazing, enriching experience to share with her family, friends, and community.
“Deidre has spent a great deal of time in the CIS lab in preparation for the contest and the workforce,” remarked Murray. “We are fortunate to have Deidre represent OTC in Kansas, and we are fortunate to have this lab, which was purchased by a USDA grant for rural communities.”
“My experience at OTC has been entirely positive,” stated Durance. “It's like having a whole other family that has been helpful and supportive in my pursuit of an education.”
Deidre has never flown and looks forward to the experience. She will be accompanied to Kansas City by Okefenokee Tech SkillsUSA advisors Debra Moody and Eddie Murray.
“I’m grateful to Mr. Murray and Ms. Moody for everything they’ve done. Without these two amazing advisors, I would be lost. This year was my first SkillsUSA competition, and at state competition they took care of everything, leaving me with nothing to worry about except to showcase my skills and make them proud.”
Durance’s academic achievements have earned her two nominations for Georgia Outstanding Award of Leadership (GOAL) and two scholarships through the OTC Foundation, a Bagwell Family Scholarship and a Monroe Academic Scholarship. She is a National Technical Honor Society member and a 2012 GOAL finalist. She holds a Georgia Work Ready Gold Certificate.
Deidre and her husband, Stacey, have three children: Starr, Khristian, and Rebekah. Her parents are Jack and Elaine Cain.
When asked about the benefits of being a member of the OTC SkillsUSA chapter, Murray explained, “SkillsUSA helps students expand their educational and networking opportunities. It allows them to meet students from different colleges and universities in the same discipline and form a national network of colleagues. Plus, SkillsUSA members are afforded opportunities to meet potential employers and run for office and learn leadership skills necessary in the work environment.”
Founded in 1965 as the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America, Inc. (VICA), SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization that represents a partnership of students, teachers, and industry leaders working together to ensure America has a skilled work force.
Okefenokee Technical College computer information systems student Deidre Durance of OTC’s Alma campus is headed to Kansas City, Missouri, this month to compete for a national SkillsUSA award in Technical Computer Applications. This photo was taken in Atlanta following the awards ceremony.
OTC computer technology instructor Eddie Murray (left) assists SkillsUSA Championship winner Deidre Durance with an assignment in the CIS lab. Murray is Durance’s program instructor and her SkillsUSA advisor. The Alma campus CIS lab simulates current computer/network arenas and helps prepare students for PC repair and troubleshooting, as well as network design, planning, implementation and troubleshooting of small to large systems.
As a former library assistant, Durance is right at home working in the OTC Alma campus library while attending college. She is currently pursuing a Computer Support Specialist Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree and Networking Specialist AAS. Having various skill sets within the field will make Durance more marketable upon graduation. In addition to a diploma in both areas, Durance has also completed the following certificate programs: Cisco Network Specialist, CompTIA A+, Help Desk Specialist, and Microsoft Office Application Specialist.