Natrona County Senior, Tristy Thomas, Builds Foundation for Successful Future Through SkillsUSA and Pathways Innovation Center Opportunities

Natrona County High School student Tristy Thomas is building upon her future with leadership at CTE success through SkillsUSA. As a state officer, Tristy collaborates with other students in competitions at the state and national levels, where they showcase their technical skills in several CTE fields, including construction, welding, and culinary arts. Through SkillsUSA, students also develop their leadership, professional, and personal skills.

A senior at NCHS, Tristy has excelled in higher-level construction and cabinetmaking courses at Pathways Innovation Center, which has expanded her knowledge and skills for her future. In fact, it was Pathways Innovation Center construction teacher Rob Hill who encouraged Tristy to join SkillsUSA. “At first, I was pretty hesitant with it because I really didn’t know what it was. Mr. Hill just kept telling me what a good opportunity it would be, so as I went through the process, I found out we got to go to Washington D.C., and travel quite a bit for different conventions. It became super intriguing to me, being a part of something bigger and being able to be a leader within that role.”

“SkillsUSA empowers its members to become world-class workers, leaders, and responsible American citizens. SkillsUSA improves the quality of our nation’s future skilled workforce through the development of Framework skills that include personal, workplace, and technical skills grounded in academics” - SkillsUSA (2022). 

Tristy’s ambition and exceptional drive for success pushed her to pursue further leadership opportunities as she soon decided to apply to become a SkillsUSA state officer. This process involves interviews with previous state officers, tests to show skills knowledge, and a delegate session where Tristy gave a speech before SkillsUSA members from around the state. Tristy currently serves as a Wyoming State Officer for the 2022-2023 school year. PIC Instructor, Rob Hill shared his excitement and appreciation for her leadership in and out of the classroom, "Tristy is not only an outstanding student, she has become a recognized state leader in Career and Technical Education. When afforded the opportunity to help lead Wyoming SkillsUSA this year, Tristy stepped forward and has not looked back. She is developing marketable skills, giving back to her community, and setting a clear path forward. Our construction program and business partners could not be more proud of her."

As a state officer, Tristy traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Leadership Training Institute with her fellow officers from around the state. Tristy spent two days developing her communication skills, creating action plans, and practicing personal skills. Tristy found interacting with so many new people was the perfect setting for developing a practicing the personal skills needed for going forward into the workforce, “We were broken out into smaller groups, so I got to meet a lot of new people. For me, that was one of the best parts because I learned about many different people who participate in SkillsUSA.”

While in D.C., Tristy and her fellow Wyoming state delegates met with representatives from Senator John Barrasso’s office, Senator Cynthia Lummis, and Representative Liz Cheney, and joined a Zoom meeting with Representative-Elect Harriet Hageman to discuss SkillsUSA and how the legislators can support students, CTE, and education.

After graduation, Tristy plans to pursue a college degree in construction management and has built plans for her future success, “Long term, I have two younger twin brothers, and we have always talked about starting our own construction company.” Tristy believes the opportunities available through Pathways Innovation Center and SkillsUSA have set her on an upward trajectory for her future, “ I have a good base of all the technical skills I will need. And then those personal skills that you get to learn throughout all of it; communication, teamwork, work ethic, integrity. All of that just really builds up qualities as a leader that I think will be really useful for future careers and my future. The biggest takeaway for me was just having a plan for everything you are going into. It is all about how you can be more prepared for any event in your life and creating a really good step process for achieving the plan.” 

Pathways Innovation Center (P.I.C) is an extension of Natrona County’s high school system. Pathways Innovation Center is focused on preparing tomorrow’s workforce through academic, career, and technical studies by providing students with an authentic and rigorous learning environment in order to graduate productive citizens who are college, career, and military ready.