“I wanted to prove that I could do it. And I did. Hard work pays off.”
ROSEBURG, Oregon – Three days after graduation ends at Umpqua Community College (UCC), an Automotive program student will head to Louisville, Kentucky for his second opportunity to compete in the SkillsUSA national competition. Connor Jones is not only representing UCC in the annual competition. He is representing all of Oregon as this year’s Automotive Service Technology gold medal winner.
“I plan to do a lot better (this year),” he said. “I’ve seen the competition and I know what to expect. I’m hoping for top 10 or 15. But everyone is good. Some of my competitors are from four-year colleges or have already worked in the industry.”
The 53rd annual National Leadership and Skills Conference showcases the talent of career and technical education students. More than 16,000 people—including students, teachers and business partners—are expected to participate in the week-long event.
Even if Connor doesn’t come home with a metal from SkillsUSA, he’s still a winner with a winning attitude. He knows how to push and challenge himself beyond self-imposed boundaries. A lot of Connor’s appetite for success comes from his UCC instructors.
“I knew that my instructors were essentially screening out those in the class they thought wouldn’t make it,” he said. “So, every day I’d go in to class with the intent to prove instructors who thought I couldn’t do something or wasn’t ready to do something wrong. I wanted to prove that I could do it. And I did. Hard work pays off.”
Already employed, the automotive tech has a five-year plan. He sees himself with his own place fixing cars and maybe even using his skills to fix and race motorcycles down the road. That sounds like a winning plan launched by a young man who wants to “always keep improving.”
When Connor returns from Kentucky, he will pack up and start his new career at a Dodge dealership in his home state of Washington. He is thankful for his time at UCC. He will always remember the support he received from his instructors, classmates, and mentors.
About Umpqua Community College
Nestled in the beautiful North Umpqua River Valley, Umpqua Community College is the regional center for higher education in Douglas County, Oregon. UCC provides high quality college degree programs, workforce development, and community learning opportunities.
John Blakely - Contact
Coordinator, Associate Professor, Automotive