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SCRIPT FLIPPED: Kemker felt incapable of reaching success before joining SkillsUSA Ohio

A common thread of hesitation with high school students is what direction to take following graduation. Should they immediately go into the workforce and gain experience or seek additional education to prepare for the career they want? For Hannah Kemker, she was hesitant to imagine a fruitful path one way or the other. 

Hannah Kemker, SkillsUSA Ohio student member

“I never believed I could be successful,” Hannah shared. “And, I wasn't motivated to do any extra work.” But thanks to a teacher who served first as her mentor and then advisor, Hannah was encouraged to join SkillsUSA Ohio. “The program has changed my perspective on my future. Now that I’m armed with experience and the skills Framework, I know I’ll be able to overcome any obstacle that comes my way.”

As a senior at Upper Valley Career Center just north of Dayton, Ohio, Hannah studies Cosmetology and has interned at the salon she currently works for, The Styling Company. She’s gaining experience, confidence and capabilities she never thought would be possible. All because she was nudged gently to join a new-to-her program at her school.

“I first heard about SkillsUSA from my teacher and advisor, Mrs. Sara Plozay,” said Hannah. “She had us listen to some of the experiences of upperclassmen in the program, which really had a positive impact on my decision to join.” But like most first-timers, Hannah was a bit anxious about what she was getting into. “I was very hesitant at first, but I wanted to see what the experience was like. I was very nervous about meeting new people.”

Hannah Kemker and a friend at a SkillsUSA Ohio event

With time, Hannah gained a groove in the program. She especially has started to learn a great deal from the SkillsUSA Framework, which she says she will continue to use to help face any situation that comes her way. “The Framework literally holds the solution to basically every situation I will face. It has taught me that communication is key. Without communication, I won't be able to hear my clients’ true wants and needs,” Hannah shared. “I wouldn’t be able to be a successful stylist without the Framework skills.”

The skills she has gained have not only been applied to her job and internship, but also at a Regional SkillsUSA Ohio competition. Hannah competed in the Extemporaneous Speech category and was nervous to compete as speaking is not her strong suit. “I’ve always hated speaking,” she shared. “Unfortunately, in the end I did not place, but the experience was enough for me to learn from. Experiences that you have learned from or have succeeded in, always take them with you.”

Hannah also found belonging and friendship in the SkillsUSA Ohio program. Her favorite memory so far is from her first year at Fall Conference. “We had just gotten back from eating dinner and we went to the dance party. I was with my friends, Liv and Brielle, and we all met new friends. It was so much fun,” said Hannah. “I always think about how I wish I could go back to that moment every day. It was special because I was with people I loved, and it was another great memory made.”

The change in Hannah’s perception of her future, herself and her abilities is apparent in both her words and actions. She knows she is now on the path towards success as a professional. She feels equipped with the right skills and knowledge to grow in her career. And, she feels prepared for any challenges ahead. “Always face your fears,” she said. “It may scare you now, but they can also change your life.” 

Joining a new activity or program is never easy—it takes courage to sign up and show up that very first time. And, it takes continued dedication to get to know others, find your footing and learn to participate more openly. But the payoff? It’s always more than worth it. 

“I have learned that SkillsUSA is a gateway to my future career and success,” said Hannah. “And throughout my membership in the program, my advisor has inspired me to be a better person and worker. She is the best role model anyone could have!” 

Want to hear more stories from SkillsUSA Ohio members, both past and present? View our blog page.


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