By MAX FILBY
For Jaden Stahl, joining Skills USA was a way to try to move on.
The 17-year-old Cory-Rawson and Millstream Career Center junior lost her mother last fall. This year, she has risen to the highest office in the Skills USA organization’s state chapter.
“My teacher said it would be a good thing for me to do,” Stahl said. “She thought it would make me happy.”
In April, Stahl was named president of the state chapter, the first student to hold the post in Millstream’s nearly 30-year history.
It’s a position Stahl wasn’t planning on being elected to so quickly, but it’s one she’s excited to serve in.
“I definitely have a nice weight on my shoulders, but I’m happy about it,” Stahl said. “I know now that I have to really be a leader and work extra hard in my field.”
Skills USA is a professional organization for students to network and learn about professionalism. The organization has more than 300,000 student members and more than 13,000 chapters in 54 states and territories, according to its website.
Stahl is a student in the medical technologies program at Millstream. Upon graduation in another year, she’ll have earned her State Tested Nursing Assistant’s license and is hoping to further her medical training by attending the University of Michigan or University of Kentucky.
Stahl credits most of her success in school and at Skills USA to Millstream, its administration and its teachers.
“I owe a lot of it to them,” Stahl said. “They all really encouraged me and really helped me campaign for it.”
As part of her role in serving as the state chapter’s president, Stahl will participate in at least 10 statewide conferences this year and will speak at several.
Stahl’s medical technology teacher, Carol Treece, said she’s proud of her for achieving something that no other Millstream student has.
“Jaden truly is inspirational,” said Treece. “She’s full of confidence and an example for every high school student.”
Competition is fierce for such positions, one reason why Millstream has never before had a student ascend to the state chapter’s presidency, said Chris Renn, director at Millstream.
Renn said Stahl’s abilities and skills make her one of the best candidates for leadership in Skills USA.
“It’s very easy for us to see why it’s Jaden,” Renn said.
Stahl was elected by a group of delegates from the state’s nearly 100 career centers, Renn said. To run for the position, Stahl had to give something of an impromptu speech to an audience of a few hundred.
“You’re up there and you’re just having a heart attack but it was worth it in the end,” Stahl said.
Although the group of students Stahl spoke to may have been an intimidating audience, the delegates who elected her are ones Stahl said she plans on staying friends with for a long time.
“We still have group text messages and I still see most of them, especially the ones nearby,” Stahl said.