Florida junior elected to SkillsUSA state officer position

Florida. Angelina Rodriguez is currently studying esthetics at Orange-Ulster BOCES.

| 07 Jun 2024 | 05:06

Traveling to Atlanta for a national conference, Washington D.C. to speak with legislators and Albany for leadership training are just a few experiences Angelina Rodriguez is looking forward to after being elected to an officer position with New York State SkillsUSA this spring.

SkillsUSA is a national workforce development organization with the mission to “empower students to become skilled professionals, career-ready leaders and responsible community members.”

Rodriguez, a junior studying esthetics at Orange-Ulster BOCES, ran for the position because she believes she can make a difference and develop her leadership skills through the role.

After joining Skills as a chapter officer at OU BOCES this fall, she decided to run for vice president at the regional competition. “I practiced my speech with my class and other classes at BOCES, focusing on slowing down my speech and emphasizing certain words.” Although she was not elected to that position, Rodriguez said it prepared her to campaign at the state competition, where she was successful.

Rodriguez created a poster, pamphlet and mini frisbees to share with SkillsUSA students at States, sharing why they should support her and what she can offer the organization. Even though the crowd at States was much larger than regionals, “I went up there with a lot of confidence because I had a lot of practice beforehand,” Rodriguez shared.

Rodriguez said the experience taught her resilience and perseverance. “It feels fantastic to be voted in, knowing that all my hard work paid off. I’m excited for what’s coming down the road,” she added.

An officer at large, Rodriguez and the other officers will find out what specific position they will serve in at Nationals in Atlanta this June. There, Rodriguez will participate in Leverage, a leadership conference, and delegate sessions where officers vote on policies and national officers.

Rodriguez says Skills has taught her to take initiative and get out of her comfort zone, traits that will prove useful in her future. “I chose to study esthetics because eventually I want to be a pediatric dermatologist,” she shared. Her first step toward that goal will be getting medical experience in the U.S. Navy, enlisting as a corpsman next summer.

Just as Rodriguez begins her term, senior Angelina Vargas is completing her time as New York State SkillsUSA’s treasurer.

Vargas’s SkillsUSA journey started at the Fall Leadership Conference, where she learned teamwork and communication skills from the then-state officers. She shared that the conference convinced her that she wanted to run for state office.

Vargas, a senior studying education and management at OU BOCES, shared, “At the beginning of my term, I was really shy and timid, but I have gained public speaking confidence and facilitating skills which I put into practice at the fall leadership conference,” a full circle experience for her.

In September 2023, Vargas attended the Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI) in Washington, D.C., ultimately speaking with Congressman Pat Ryan, who represents New York’s 18th Congressional District.

“The national officers trained the state officers about best practices when speaking with our legislators to get more funding for the Perkins grant, which supports career and technical education schools,” she shared. “At WLTI, we learned about professionalism and how to share the reasoning behind what you’re advocating for so that legislators can see your side of the story.”

Vargas is excited for Rodriguez to take on a state role and participate in the unique opportunities that come along with it. She shared some advice for Rodriguez: “Don’t be afraid to try new things and have new experiences. Make your time count, it flies by!”