TCHS student wins $15K scholarship


Gilberto Correa placed first in the HVAC category at the Pennsylvania SkillsUSA competition in April. He will be attending the National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky in June.

DOWNINGTOWN – Technical College High School (TCHS) Pennock’s Bridge Campus student Gilberto Correa didn’t want to get his hopes up.

As a first place finisher in the HVAC category at the SkillsUSA district 4/5 competition held at Cumberland Perry Area Vocational Technical School, he advanced to the Pennsylvania State Championships held in Hershey. After completing five separate HVAC related tasks during the state competition, Correa knew he did a good job.

“I didn’t think I came in last,” he said. “I just didn’t want to be let down so I didn’t get my hopes up. I really wasn’t expecting to win!” 

But win he did. Correa competed against student from 11 districts around the state. As the first place finisher in the HVAC category, he was awarded a $15,000 scholarship for the University of Northwestern Ohio and a $2500 scholarship to Pennsylvania College of Technology. One of the things that attracted Correa to the HVAC program was the opportunity for career growth and stability. He thinks very practically about his future.

“My dad works in hard labor and he doesn’t want me to do the same thing,” Correa explained. “He was really happy when he found out I won and received a scholarship. His advice was for me was to keep trying to become better.”

In addition to the scholarships, Correa was also given a Cobalt multi-drive wrench at the state contest. He plans to add the wrench to his collection of tools that he has purchased over his three years as an HVAC student at TCHS Pennock’s Bridge.

“You don’t have to have your own tools in the program,” he explained. “I just think it’s important to get to know your tools and learn how to really use them to prepare for work outside of school.”

Correa is going to put his tools to work after graduation as he enters the workforce. He plans to work for a year to gain some experience and then attend the University of Northwestern Ohio to obtain his associate’s degree. At TCHS Pennock’s Bridge he learned about wiring circuits, electrical systems, mechanical systems, plumbing and heating and refrigeration units. The HVAC classroom is a combination of book learning, lessons and applications. The students often apply the knowledge and skills they learn from the classroom immediately in the shop area. It’s this knowledge and skills that helped Correa stand out and win at the SkillsUSA state contest and what will help him in the upcoming National Leadership and Skills Conference.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce and helps prepare students for future careers. “Participation in SkillsUSA empowers its members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens,” said Jim Brunken, a TCHS Pennock’s Bridge instructor and SkillsUSA advisor. “SkillsUSA improves the quality of America’s skilled workforce through a structured program of citizenship, leadership, employability, technical and professional skills training.” Ultimately, SkillsUSA is about teaching practical and transferrable skills to ensure that America has a skilled workforce.

This year the National Conference will be held in Louisville, Kentucky June 22-26. Correa is the only student attending from TCHS Pennock’s Bridge.  Kevin Fraumeni-Feaster and Kylie Monko from TCHS Brandywine will also be competing and Kaylee Tada will attend as the delegate elect to the SkillsUSA National Officer team.

At the state level, the competition was Correa’s favorite part. “I didn’t stress over it and I had fun. I also enjoyed meeting the other competitors and students from all over Pennsylvania,” he said. “I’m very excited about Nationals. I’m going to a different place, a different state and I’ll get to meet people from around the country!”

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