Two CNM Welding Students Win Gold at National SkillsUSA Competition

Dylan Harvey and Abenicio Gallegos shine at the country’s premier showcase for Career and Technical Education students
July 01, 2021

CNM Welding student Abenicio Gallegos says he was nervous while watching the results of the National SkillsUSA Championships last week. He had competed in the High School Welding competition against dozens of other students across the country and was sure he’d lost after his name wasn’t called for a bronze or silver medal. But then everything changed when he saw his name next to the top honor: a gold medal.

“Once I realized I had won I was blown away,” says Abenicio, who’s 17 and a CNM dual credit student.

Dylan Harvey, 20, who’s also a CNM Welding student, says he had a similar reaction. He knew he’d made a couple of small mistakes so he wasn’t expecting to bring home gold. But then he won the College/Postsecondary Division and was overjoyed.

“I truly thought I wasn’t going to win, so it was really exciting,” he says.

SkillsUSA is a nationwide organization that promotes the skilled trades and both Abenicio and Dylan qualified for the national event after placing first at the New Mexico SkillsUSA State Leadership & Skills Conference. 

The national event, which is the largest showcase of CTE students in the country, is normally held at one location where students fly in to compete side-by-side (this year it was scheduled for Atlanta). But because of COVID-19, all of the 2021 competitions were done virtually via Zoom while a non-CNM tradesperson proctored the competition. More than 6,500 CTE students -- all state contest winners -- competed in 107 different trades and leadership fields. 

Both Abenicio and Dylan are set to graduate at the end of the Summer Term and their wins will help propel them into a new career, thanks in part to CNM’s highly regarded Welding program.

“Our goal is to prepare students for leadership in the world of work and by participating in SkillsUSA programming, students are equipping themselves with even more opportunities for career success,” says Natalie Donnelly, the State Director for SkillsUSA New Mexico.

“We are thrilled to have two national gold medalists from the CNM SkillsUSA Chapter because these hands-on career competitions created and judged by national industry partners provide students real world opportunities to showcase their skills. In addition to the hard work and dedication of Abenicio and Dylan, I also want to recognize the expertise and commitment of their advisor Trenten Moore and the success of the CNM Welding program overall.”

Trenten Moore says he’s honored to have worked with both Abenicio and Dylan.

“Both Abenicio and Dylan spent countless hours training and honing their skills,” Trenten says. “They both represented CNM and the state of New Mexico well and can now join a very small percentage of individuals that have achieved success at a national level. Although all the CNM welding faculty had a part in preparing these students, it ultimately depended on them to represent their talent, and that they did!”

When he graduates, Abenicio plans to apply for a job with one of the state laboratories in New Mexico. He loves welding because it’s a mix of theory and hands-on practice and hopes to land a position where he can make a difference. 

 “My plan is to find a job where I get to work on important projects that improve society and make a difference in my community and across the world,” he says.

Dylan is already training with the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 412 and says he’s appreciative of the training and opportunities he received at CNM.

“My time at CNM has been A1,” he says. “I loved that we got training in both theory and hands-on practice and I can’t wait to get my certifications and eventually open my own shop down the road.”