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BCC welding student places 2nd in national competition

Source Date: July 8, 2012

Chris Shifflett, a student in the welding program at Bladen Community College, returned from this year's national SkillsUSA competitions with a top honor. She took second place in the open Job Skills Demonstration category a category that pitted her against contestants from across the nation in a variety of vocational programs.

Shifflett, a resident of Spring Lake, represented North Carolina in the competition after taking first place in the North Carolina SkillsUSA competition earlier in the year. The national competition is held annually in Kansas City, Missouri, during the month of June.

A second year student in BCC, she says she was not initially interested in welding when she graduated from high school in 2002. Following high school, she enlisted in the U.S. Army, where she served for three years. Upon discharge from the Army, she enrolled in a phlebotomy program and after completing the program, worked for two years as a phlebotomist.

"I did not like phlebotomy and soon was looking for something else to do," she said candidly. "I went to work for a book-binding company, where I worked for several years. It was while I was working there that I first became interested in welding.

"At the time, I was driving a 1991 Honda and the muffler kept falling off. A friend had me bring it over to his house," she said, smiling. "He cranked up his 250 diesel Miller (welding machine), put on his gear, and was soon welding my muffler. As soon as he came out from under the car, I told him, 'that's what I want to do.' I wanted to do something that I could see what I produced, something I could excel in.

"He got me some burning rods, and I found out that we had one of the best schools on the East Coast for learning welding right here in the local area (Bladen Community College)." Shifflett said she now knows why BCC has such a good reputation for its welding program. "The instructors are awesome. They do everything they can to get you ready for whatever venture you want to undertake in the welding field," she said.

Shifflett, who has a seven-year-old daughter and continues to work part-time, is scheduled to complete her associate degree in welding in December. She plans to enter the workforce as a welder as soon thereafter as possible.

SkillsUSA, formerly known as VICA, is a nationwide organization of approximately 320,000 members, primarily in vocational programs at high schools and colleges across the nation. It has hosted a national competition for vocational students since 1981. A number of BCC students throughout the years have competed in the state and national competitions.

BCC's welding program has had numerous winners in the Job Skills Demonstration and Welding competitions during the more than 15 years it has entered the competition. Many have gone on to compete in the national competition.