Brittany Whitestone, a two-time SkillsUSA champion, will compete in August in the print media technology category.
Brittany Whitestone is a junior at Cal U studying graphics and multimedia.
In 2016 and 2017, she won the SkillsUSA national competition in graphic communications, which led to her qualificatinon for the WorldSkillsUSA team. She will compete in the print media technology category in August 2019 in Russia.
SkillsUSA serves middle school, high school and college students who are interested in technical education careers.
Whitestone is from Westminster, Md., where she attended the Carroll County Career and Technology Center for Print Production.
She talked about her national successes as she prepares for the international competition.
What kinds of skills are required at the national competition level?
We are tested on our ability to complete a printed job from start to finish. We estimate a job, create a file on Adobe InDesign, print a job on a Heidelberg QM-46 offset press, print a job on a Xerox digital press, and perform cutting and folding operations. We also have job interviews and knowledge assessments.
How did you qualify for the WorldSkillsUSA team in print media technology?
You have to have medaled in your competition area. Then the SkillsUSA team leaders and the expert for your competition area perform interviews with the students who applied for WorldSkillsUSA team. Two students are then selected to compete head to head at the national competition in Louisville, Ky., for each skill. The students go through a simulation of what the WorldSkills competition will be like, and the winner of that competition becomes the USA team’s representative for that skill area.
How do you prepare for competitions?
Practice for SkillsUSA and WorldSkills requires a lot of dedication and passion in what you do. When I was practicing for the SkillsUSA competition at the national level, I didn’t have the equipment necessary to train. I would travel to another school that was an hour from my high school 2-3 times a week in order to train on their equipment. In addition, I created what I called my “Print Bible.” It was a 5-inch binder that held all the information I needed for the competition.
I have been going to the Lehigh Career and Technical Institute in Allentown, Pa., on the weekends to train on the Heidelberg SM52. The experience has allowed me to learn the specific equipment that we will be using at the WorldSkills competition. I recently went to France to participate in their national competition as an exhibition competitor so I could experience what the competition will be like at the WorldSkills level.
In this Internet/digital age, why are great print-making skills so important?
I think there is a common misconception about the printing industry that we are only printing newspapers and books. The printing industry is so much more. Every sign we see is printed, and every product we use involves printed packaging. I find printing exciting because it is an interactive experience. When a project is printed, you can hear the presses running, smell the fragrance of the ink, feel the texture of the substrate and see the amazing results of your work. I love when I finish a job and the customer is excited to see their ideas come to life.
What kind of support have you gotten from faculty?
The professors at CalU have been very supportive of my WorldSkills journey. They are always willing to offer help whenever I need it. They also work with me when I am away for training and help me continue to work toward my degree.
What made you choose Cal U?
I originally went to the Art Institute of Tampa in Florida for graphic design. After completing two semesters, I decided that I preferred a career in the printing industry and researched transferring to a school that had that program.
What else keeps you busy on campus?
I am the treasurer for the Screen Printing Student Association and a member of Sigma Kappa.
You received a Print Industries of America Scholarship to compete in Russia. How’d that come about?
The Printing Industries of America has always been a major supporter of SkillsUSA, so I was able to meet some of the members at the SkillsUSA competitions. I am so grateful that they contacted me and offered to help with my journey.
How important are role models in this industry?
Role models were extremely important throughout my journey. When I first started competing, my mentors, David Hutchison and Michael Born, were the ones who inspired me to join the printing industry. Not only were they the ones who trained me for the competition, but they also believed in me. I started this journey back in 2016, and they have always been there to coach me and encourage me every step of the way. Another role model I had was the previous competitor who went to WorldSkills in 2017, Chandler Kerr.
I go back to my high school to help train the competitors, and I have started helping to judge events for the regional and state competitions. Giving back to the competition is really important to me because if I can encourage someone else to reach their dreams, then I know that what I am doing is worth it.
Follow the WorldSkillsUSA team on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @WorldSkillsUSA or at worldskillsusa.org.