PRICELESS PAYOFF: Pate encourages students to reach highest potential
Updated: Jan 29
It isn’t often you find something so beneficial and significant you pursue it your entire life. But that’s exactly how educator Vicky Pate perceives the life-long advantages SkillsUSA Ohio offers. In fact, it’s something she has engaged in for nearly 20 years.
“It is life changing for students and advisors. Many of our students are looking for somewhere to fit in. SkillsUSA has something for everyone,” said Pate. It’s a lofty statement to make about an organization, but Pate’s experience as both a student member and teacher has given her the credentials to do so. She knows the difference Skills makes for each high school student just trying to fit in and find their place in the world. And she has witnessed the invaluable moments Skills affords students at both conferences and contests and in the classroom.
A life-long commitment
Vicky Pate has served as a Health Science Teacher with Columbus City Schools at Fort Hayes Career Center in Central Ohio for 23 years. For most of those years, she also has served as a SkillsUSA Ohio Chapter Advisor. As if her schedule isn’t full enough, she also works part-time for Mt. Carmel Health System and volunteers with the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.
Additionally, one of SkillsUSA Ohio’s community service projects is delivering Meals on Wheels through LifeCare Alliance. Although students have not been able to accompany teachers due to the pandemic, Pate and her fellow teachers are determined to continue serving. You might say SkillsUSA has encouraged an admirable drive and motivation in Pate to both work hard and serve her community heartily.
Pate’s first experience with SkillsUSA Ohio was as a senior in high school. Sixteen years later she found herself teaching the exact same course she was enrolled in as a student. “I joined as an advisor because I knew firsthand what a difference it had made in my life as a student. Therefore, I want to give every student I meet an opportunity to experience SkillsUSA for themselves,” shared Pate. But it wasn’t easy. Pate had no clue what to do or how to serve as an advisor. She was thankful for a strong advisor in the building who she leaned on for everything during those first few years.
The students make it worth it
“The excitement I see within my students as they learn new things and experience life as they have never done before, motivates me to do what I do as an advisor,” said Pate. Most times it’s the seemingly small things, like the students learning how to set a table properly or trying new dance moves at the SKillsUSA kickoff, that remind Pate why she does this.
Taking chapter members on trips to competitions, leadership events, camps and conferences allows advisors like Pate to experience unforgettable moments with their students. “The excitement of the students when they hear their name called as a winner will never get old,” she shared. “Every time we bring students together memories are formed. There have been several times at regional competitions where students are nervous and they lean on and encourage each other, in a way I had never witnessed before.”
One of the most special SkillsUSA moments for Pate was when she accompanied students to Washington, D.C. “I will never forget the professionalism and effort the students put into meeting members of Congress, and the seriousness and respect they projected at the changing of the guards in Arlington Cemetery and while visiting the monuments,” she said. Pate shared she was so proud of the way they represented SkillsUSA Ohio on the trip.
Continued service, sustaining reward
There is a recurring the
me with both SkillsUSA Ohio advisors and students when they discuss the organization—that it is life changing. Pate stated, “I cannot say enough how many lives I have seen changed because of the skills learned while a member of SkillsUSA. The networking with students from other parts of the state they did not know existed and the friendships that are formed are priceless.”
The fact that students work with advisors feverishly to prepare for Springtime competition each year adds yet another layer of dedication to and pride in the group. Pate was involved in competition as a student and now she guides students as an advisor. “I placed and many of my students have placed [in competition]. The look on their faces and the excitement within them in indescribable,” she shared. “The feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction of hard work paying off is irreplaceable.”
Working together to close the skills gap
Through the years, Pate has become deftly aware of the tremendous impact SkillsUSA Ohio has not just on students and educators, but also on the business and industry community at large throughout the state. She shared that Skills is life changing because it provides specific tools for each person to add to and improve their own toolbox. And because of insight from and teamwork among administrators, educators, advisors and industry leaders, “SkillsUSA Ohio continues to be ever changing in order to keep up with the demands of business and industry,” said Pate.
“SkillsUSA has something for everyone,” she shared. “Many of our students are looking for somewhere to fit in. I believe the skills I obtained as a student gave me the courage and motivation to become the teacher I am today. As a teacher, I can share what SkillsUSA did for me personally, and encourage others to use Skills in a way to benefit themselves and the community around them.”
Vicky Pate is a Health Science Teacher, CPR & Fitness Instructor and SkillsUSA Advisor with Columbus City Schools’ Fort Hayes Career Center in Columbus, Ohio. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614.365.6681 ext. 51040.