A Hobbs High School student made school history this summer when he became the first to be elected to a SkillsUSA national office.
Jonathan Sarmiento, who will be a junior at Hobbs High School when classes begin Aug. 12, will serve as vice president for SkillsUSA during the coming year.
Sarmiento, who was elected president of the New Mexico SkillsUSA chapter in April, was one of ten high school students elected to nationwide posts following June’s SkillsUSA nationwide conference in Louisville, Ky.
In order to be eligible to make a run for national office, Sarmiento first had to submit letters of recommendation, complete a professional development program, pass leadership and SkillsUSA knowledge tests, then undergo an interview.
During the Kentucky convention, state delegates listened to speeches from each candidate, then voted a total of 10 high school students and five college students into national office.
“I practiced my speech and rehearsed a little bit but not too much so it wouldn’t be robotic,” Sarmiento said. “When they announced the winners at the closing ceremonies, I was anxious. All I heard was the word ‘New Mexico’ and since I was the only candidate from New Mexico, I knew I had won. I never heard my name because everyone else around me was screaming.”
Soon after returning from the national conference, Sarmiento was back on an airplane headed for Herndon, Va., and officer training. SkillsUSA candidates who are running for office don’t declare which position they are campaigning for. That role is determined following training and an internal election among the officers themselves. Which is why Sarmiento didn’t know until earlier this week that he had been named vice president of the national SkillsUSA organization.
In both his state and national positions Sarmiento will be called upon to attend conventions and state meetings throughout New Mexico and the nation. (Upon returning to Hobbs from Virginia on Wednesday, for example, he was scheduled to be in Ruidoso on Skills USA business three days later). But Sarmiento, who hopes to one day be an engineer or educator, said he is looking forward to the increased responsibilities.
“I’m positive I can manage all three jobs – national officer, state president and school,” Sarmiento said. “School for me is something I enjoy. And the new position is already making a big impact on me. But what I’m actually looking forward to in this position is the opportunity I have to make an impact on others.”