DENVILLE, NJ – Morris County School of Technology (MCST) students Nicole Duca, Sowmya Kashibhatla and Megan Merola received gold medals last month for their presentation at the 2019 New Jersey SkillsUSA Championships. After bringing home the gold, the team now prepares for the 55th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, scheduled for June 24-29, where more than 5,600 students will compete in 94 occupational and leadership skill areas.

Duca of Bloomingdale, Kashibhatla of Montville and Merola of Mount Arlington are juniors in MCST’s Academy for Law and Public Safety. They competed against 11 other technical schools in the SkillsUSA “Career Pathways Showcase - Human Services” category at Sussex County Technical School to clinch the gold. The team selected its own case study, and as students of the Academy for Law and Public Safety, chose to solve their problem legislatively. Teams of up to three students were graded on how well they solved their problems, presented their cases, and closely aligned with their academies. The presentation Duca, Kashibhatla and Merola made successfully at the state level will be the same one they will make at the national conference. Information about their national competitors and their cases will not be disclosed prior to face-off.

The MCST team is advised by Colleen Pascale, a retired detective/sergeant of the Butler Police Department who has been a teacher in the Law and Public Safety Program at MCST since the start of the 2017-2018 school year. “Since [2017], we have successfully competed in several competitions, which [have given] the students real world experiences,” Pascale shared. “My students are an absolute pleasure to teach. They are hardworking and goal-oriented,” she added.

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According to its website “SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, leaders and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce…[Its] mission is to help its members become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens.” Fittingly, Duca and Merola hope to leverage their SkillsUSA experiences to become future lawyers while Kashibhatla would like to pursue a career in human services.

Success in Kentucky would add another medal (gold, silver or bronze) to the team's collection.