NTU Skills Fest showcases academics, art and job readiness

A team of high school students competes in the muffin-making contest of NTU’s Open House & Skills Fest competition. Over 50 students from six high schools competed in the baking competition. Submitted photo

A team of high school students competes in the muffin-making contest of NTU’s Open House & Skills Fest competition. Over 50 students from six high schools competed in the baking competition. Submitted photo

CROWNPOINT, NM — High school students from the region and across the Navajo Nation assembled at Navajo Technical University (NTU) last month to showcase their talents in academic contests and to explore higher education opportunities.

NTU’s Open House & Skills Fest welcomed 21 high schools and over 490 students to the event, many of which competed in academic competitions such as automotive technology, welding, carpentry, culinary arts, baking, new media, electrical trades, electrical engineering, office assistant, job readiness and law enforcement. The event also included a scavenger hunt that familiarized students with the layout of NTU’s campus, as well as the college registration process.

“It was a real pleasure to see all those high school students come to our campus and enjoy the activities tailored to increase their knowledge about Navajo Tech,” said Freda Joe, NTU’s dual credit coordinator. “For a couple hours today, we hopefully helped them to interactively decide on their future plans to continue their educational goals.”

In its fourth year hosting the event, NTU sought to provide more interactive opportunities for students, including guided tours and a program open house where each of NTU’s departments could interact with students on a one-on-one basis.

NTU’s intercollegiate athletic programs also provided activities for students, such as an archery target shoot and a mechanical bucking bull. NTU’s SkillsUSA student organization also took the lead in organizing the student competitions, modeling many after the state SkillsUSA competitions that take place each year in April.

“The students demonstrated outstanding abilities and skills for the competitions, and they got to engage with current NTU students and staff on an intimate level,” explained Daniel Vandever, communications director at NTU. “The collaboration that went into the event really made it a success because everyone was committed to seeing the students succeed.”

Navajo Transitional Energy Company, Arizona Public Services, and Raytheon were sponsors of the Skills Fest event, helping with the production of each competition.

Nicole Shaw, Project Engineer at Souder, Miller & Associates in Santa Fe, NM served as the event’s motivational speaker, and discussed her quest through high school to earning a degree in civil engineering at Northern Arizona University.  The Open House also received a visit from Grandma Emma Thompson, a Navajo elder from Tohatchi, NM, who was walking through Crownpoint in her effort to bring awareness to victims of domestic violence.

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