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YUHSD CTE students hold unprecedented 11 state or national officer positions

Yuma Union High School District’s Career & Technical Education (CTE) program has long prioritized leadership for its students. Through a district-wide leadership initiative, training opportunities for students, and staff who encourage student involvement, CTE has increased the leadership skills of thousands of students over time. 

However, 2019-2020 marks an unprecedented time for YUHSD CTE leadership. Eleven students enter the new academic year holding state or national officer positions in their respective Career & Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs). It’s the most at any one time in YUHSD history.

Melissa Moreno, SkillsUSA Vice President, and Miguel Nunez, Region 5 Vice President, are two of 10 students in the country holding national officer positions. Not only are Moreno and Nunez from the same school district, but both students are from San Luis High School. According to SkillsUSA, since 2016 there have been two other occurrences of students from the same high school serving as national officers at the same time with a pair coming from Ohio and another pair hailing from Texas. 

“Whether it’s our abuelitas teaching us the importance of hospitality, or our parents demonstrating how much we should care for others, our culture is one that highlights service,” said Moreno, who is beginning her senior year at San Luis. “And coming from our little town of San Luis, Arizona, it’s quite significant to be able to serve SkillsUSA as a national officer. However, if I did it, so many other students can as well. Yuma Union High School District has so much undiscovered potential and I hope to highlight that this year, by empowering those students that are eager to serve.”

Since the inception of SkillsUSA’s national officers program in 1965, there have been just 23 national officers from the state of Arizona, including Moreno and Nunez.

Additionally, San Luis has six more students holding state-level positions in 2019-2020: Yanelly Munoz and Alexis De La Torre with SkillsUSA; Alexandro Lopez with HOSA; Julian Moreno, Getzahi Bernal Parra and Melany Gandara with Educators Rising.

Yuma High School’s Jasmine Perez, and Kofa High School’s Luisa Lopez and Jocelyn Ortega were also among the SkillsUSA state leadership selections. 

Overall, more than 7,700 students in YUHSD are enrolled in at least one CTE course with about 14 percent of those students involved in campus or district level leadership. The leadership initiative, which was built in 2017, has trained more than 2,000 CTE leaders.

"Through every challenge I had a support system behind every step I took," Nunez said. "Every one of my advisors pushed me to not only do more but be more. One of the greatest lessons was the value of wanting to grow and learn to never give up. As a sophomore at San Luis High School, I was offered the opportunity to run for a regional position. Unfortunately, I lost but it was with my advisors' support I didn't let that failure stop my SkillsUSA journey. Instead, it ignited a flame and a determination to grow. Every single one of our advisors is a crucial aspect in our CTE journey. They not only teach us the technical skills needed in the workplace, but career readiness skills needed to thrive in the future."

YUHSD has 85 total CTE programs with a 99 percent graduation rate for CTE completers, meaning they completed the breadth of their respective program. In 2018-2019, CTE students earned 5,731 industry certifications.

More about SkillsUSA

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers, and industry working together to ensure the United States has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA serves more than 300,000 students and instructors annually. The organization has 13,000 school chapters in 54 state and territorial associations. More than 14,500 instructors and administrators are professional members of SkillsUSA. The state of Arizona has been part of SkillsUSA since 1966.

Melissa Moreno Miguel Nunez

Eric Patten