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Matthew McLaury, back row left, was presented with a silver medal at the SkillsUSA Championships’ Competition for Information Technology Services.

Erwin Student Wins Big at SkillsUSA National Competition

July 24, 2015 - Student Success

Matthew McLaury knows about computers and the management of virtual machines, and now he has a silver medal to prove it.

Computer Repair & Networking student Matthew McLaury of Erwin Technical College competed at the SkillsUSA Championships and was awarded the silver medal in the Information Technology Services category.

Earlier this year, he participated at the Florida’s state-level SkillsUSA competition, where he earned a gold medal in his category, advancing him to nationals. The National SkillsUSA Championship showcases the country's best career and technical education students. More than 6,000 students came from every state and two U.S. territories compete in 100 contests in technical, skilled, service and health occupations.

According to SkillsUSA officials, many consider this event to be the single greatest day of industry volunteerism in America with more than 1,000 judges ranking participants based on industry standards for employment.

Clifton Beasley, Matthew’s instructor at Erwin, was happy about the results and excited to see his student excel.   It reaffirmed his belief that his IT students are on track and are committed to excellence.

With unbridled enthusiasm and pride, Matthew described how he and other students worked against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in job skills aligned with their category.

According to the SkillsUSA website:

“Participants had to demonstrate basic ability to configure & secure SOHO networks, manage client side virtual machines, basic understanding of Windows registry, use of remote assistance software to support remote clients, comprehensive knowledge of commands, and work with mobile devices. In addition, the contestants take the A+ Certification exam. Their score on this exam is used as the basis for the written portion of the contest, and contestants who pass the exam receive their A+ Certification.  Top student winners receive gold, silver and bronze medallions. Many also received prizes such as tools of their trade and/or scholarships to further their careers and education.”

When asked about his experience at Nationals, Matthew shared that he was pretty scared, “because going through the competition required a lot of endurance and faith in my abilities.  I was up against professionals who had their AA degrees and even some with IT work experience.”

At 26, Matthew has spent a number of years working in retail and customer service to financially support his return to school.  It says a lot about Matthew’s ability and to compete at this level and be recognized by SkillsUSA is a significant accomplishment.

Instructor Clifton Beasley shared how impressed he is with Matthew’s work ethic.  According to Beasley, it’s important to adapt to the rapid changes in the IT field. “Matthew has a unique ability to learn new skills quickly and adapt to new situations.”  He further emphasizes that, “Always keeping up with emerging trends in the field is a necessary practice in the world of technology.”

Matthew agrees that he had a competitive advantage when competing at nationals. He attributes his success to his classmates and teacher, the learning environment at Erwin, and his innate ability to adapt and strive for excellence. 

As Matthew moves forward toward completing his technical training, earning certifications,  and building his portfolio,  it’s apparent that he is  closer to meeting his goal of “being the best”. He wants to, “work with an agile, innovative company, [that is] adapting to emerging technology trends such as Centrix, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon.” 


About SkillsUSA

SkillsUSA is a national partnership of students, teachers and industry, working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA chapters help students excel while preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations. SkillsUSA has more than 300,000 students and instructors as members.

The SkillsUSA Championships is the national-level competition for public high school and college/postsecondary students enrolled in career and technical education programs.

For more information, visit


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