Recruiting Future Students

With their weekdays chock-full of classes, faculty meetings, and part-time jobs, it’s rare to see a group of high school students and college administrators come together to discuss computer programming and medical terminology. But the SkillsUSA regional competition, held at PCC on Saturday, January 25th, did just that. 

“The atmosphere in the Quad was amazing,” said Tom Vessella, SkillsUSA regional manager. “We had 1,900 prospective students gathering there and interacting with PCC outreach people. Just about every single participating student made a connection to PCC.”

The event, which is just one of 110 national conferences, celebrates the skills of students in career and technical education. This includes a broad selection of talents and interests, ranging from business and industry, health science, manufacturing, and agriculture. 

“We had 93 live competitions that went from carpentry to extemporaneous speaking,” Tom said. “All these students have a career focus. They have goals in mind. Some will go on to a four-year school after they graduate, some will go directly into the workforce. But most of them will go through a community college.” 

Recruiting Future StudentsIn fact, it was Julie Kiotas, Dean of Business, Engineering, and Technology, who had the idea to treat the competition as a recruitment event. 

“This was an opportunity to show our diverse community and our diverse partners what PCC has to offer,” she said. “We wanted these high school students to see that PCC is different from other community colleges. It’s more like a university. They could come here and grow!”

Julie passionately believes in PCC’s brand, which is why it was so important to her that the SkillsUSA participants see themselves enrolling at the college one day.

“The event had a really good heartbeat,” she said. “You could tell the students were excited to be there, walking around on campus, and connecting with the faculty. It was an amazing experience, for them and for us.”

But the event wouldn’t have been possible were it not for the generous donation of Jim and Becky Sarni during the Impact Campaign. Their major  gift to the college’s Career and Technical Education program allowed PCC to host the SkillsUSA competition in the first place.  

“The Foundation became a connector for this event,” said Executive Director Bobbi Abram.  “We know event planners and we know the faculty and academic leadership.  Once connected, they worked together to produce an amazing event we were proud to support.”   

“Thanks to the PCC family, it was a great event,” Tom said. “The community, the outreach, the Lancer ambassadors, and people in the Foundation—because of their collaboration and partnership, it ended up being a really unique and significant experience for the students.”