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Cuesta student wins Best in Nation for speech at Skills USA Nationals 

Theme of Grace Stokes’ speech was ‘Here’s to Skills USA – 50 Years of Positive Influence.’

– Cuesta College Career Technical Education student Grace Stokes brought home gold from the 51st annual Skills USA National Leadership and Skills Conference held in Louisville, Ky., June 22-June 26, placing first in the prepared speech competition. The theme of her speech was “Here’s to SkillsUSA – 50 Years of Positive Influence.”

Grace Stokes. Courtesy photo.

Grace Stokes. Courtesy photo.

“For nine years in a row, a Cuesta College student has placed on the Skills USA national podium and it absolutely validates the caliber of our programs,” said John Stokes, Cuesta College’s engineering and technology division chair who oversees the college’s Skills USA team, and also proud father of Stokes. “All 50 states and five other US territories were represented at the conference, and we’ve routinely demonstrated that our Career Technical Education students and faculty are some of the best in the nation.”

Cuesta College sent three other students this year, and all three placed in the top 15 in three additional categories:

  • 7th place: Auto Collision Refinishing – Austin Feavel
  • 12th place: Culinary Arts – Noah Yoshida
  • 12th place: Auto Collision Repair – Ethan Moskoff


This past April, thirteen of Cuesta College’s CTE students medaled at the Skills USA California 48th annual State Leadership and Skill Conference, held April 8-12 in San Diego. The students medaled in 12 categories and nabbed five gold medals, four silver, and three bronze.

In August of 2015, the World Skills International competition will take place in Brazil and involve more than 60 countries. For the second time, Cuesta College will send one of its students to compete; Michael Mullen, who will go for the gold in auto service technology. Earlier this year, Mullen participated in the World Skills Americas competition in Bogota, Colombia, where he placed second. Mullen also serves as California’s Post-Secondary President of the organization. In 2011, Cuesta student Daniel Lehmkuhl competed in automobile technology at World Skills International in London.


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The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at