Alumni Highlights


SkillsUSA impacts the lives of individuals at various stages in their lives. This month, we are highlighting Ms. Stephanie Bochenek. Stephanie is currently employed by White Oak Elementary School in Morris, IL  and works as a Kindergarten Special Education Teacher. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Illinois State University. From there, she continued her education at Lewis University, receiving not only her endorsements in English as a second language and learning behavior specialist 1, but also her Master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction in English as a Second Language.

Stephanie told us this, about her SkillsUSA Journey:

“SkillsUSA gave me the confidence to be the best educator possible. I was more prepared than my peers going into college because of the classes I took in high school and because of my experiences in SkillsUSA. SkillsUSA provided me with experiences I would never get the chance to have if it weren’t for this wonderful organization. Learning how to be a leader, writing a resume, practicing public speaking skills, networking with complete strangers, going on mock interviews, meeting with state representatives, experiencing parliamentary procedure in the state capitol building, and competing at the local, state, and national levels in preschool teaching are only some of my many accomplishments in SkillsUSA.

Before SkillsUSA, I didn’t really have a passion to do anything. It’s almost as if all of the components of the SkillsUSA emblem where inside of me, but needed to be lit with knowledge by the flaming torch to use them in my life. SkillsUSA taught me that any child can accomplish anything and that no dream is out of reach. I teach that to my students every single day in the classroom because I want them to believe that they can do anything their hearts desire. I want them to accomplish every goal that they have set for themselves. I want them to have the confidence that they need to be skilled workers in the near future. I want students to know that college isn’t for everyone, and that there are trades and other occupations that require training that SkillsUSA can aid in teaching and preparing them to be successful in the workforce. Thank you SkillsUSA for filling my life with amazing people, memories, and skills in order to be successful!”

Stephanie strongly believes that career and technical education is just as important as core curricular subjects because of her involvement with SkillsUSA. It is of most importance to Ms. Stephanie to teach students at a young age to be diligent workers who will one day run our country, as it is just as important as learning math computation and learning how to read.



SkillsUSA impacts the lives of individuals at various stages in their lives. This month, we are highlighting Ms. Erandy Padilla, whose SkillsUSA journey began in 8th grade, when her teacher told her she should get involved with the organization once she got into high school. The encouragement of a teacher and a small step of faith sent Erandy on a journey she never realized would change her life. 

During her tenure at Saint Charles East High School, Ms. Padilla realized her true potential through her involvement with SkillsUSA. Erandy competed for four years in more than twelve different events, through which she earned twenty state-level medals, and a bronze medal at the national level.

While her favorite part of SkillsUSA was the competition, Erandy admits that she now realizes that the organization goes far beyond earning medals. “Most importantly, SkillsUSA gave me the confidence to do things that are outside my comfort zone. In my career, I will be willing to take more risks to go above and beyond to see the results I want. That’s what I have learned through SkillsUSA.” 

Erandy is presently attending Robert Morris University where she is majoring in Business Administration. In the future, she plans to attend law school to study Constitutional or Corporate Law.