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Automotive student repeats as SkillsUSA national champ

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Automotive student repeats as SkillsUSA national champ

Release date: Aug. 8, 2014


KANSAS CITY – For the second year in a row, East Mississippi Community College student Dale Brand put on the best show in the country in the Automotive category at SkillsUSA.


Brand, of West Point, defended his 2013 first-place finish in the Automotive Job Skills Demonstration Open category this June at the National SkillsUSA competition in Kansas City, using the same demonstration that won him his first gold medal. Brand competed alongside several of his fellow Automotive program students as well as Cosmetology program students, each of whom won first place in their respective categories at the Mississippi SkillsUSA competition in February in Biloxi.


“It was a lot of pressure, to be honest. Returning for the second time, even though some of the judges were there last year and knew what I was doing, there were a lot of new faces. I just had to tune all that out and go for the gold,” said Brand.


“I was so nervous and worried about not winning. Then it was one of those breathtaking moments when I saw my name on the screen next to ‘first place.’ I just ran down to the stage. I was almost confused it was so unbelievable.”


And right beside Brand, just as excited, was EMCC Automotive instructor Dale Henry.


“It was amazing to have someone win two years in a row. I’ve never done that before. I knew we put in a lot of work. Still, that’s a tall order,” said Henry.


Brand’s winning demonstration consisted of using a skeleton engine to demonstrate the process of changing the oil, using tea to simulate oil, and explaining every step of the process to a panel of judges.


“I had to break it down as if I was explaining it to someone who has never changed oil out of an engine before. The idea is to explain it so clearly that they can do it when they walk out of that room,” said Brand.


Brand, who graduated from EMCC in May, currently works full time at Prestage Farms in West Point where he maintains diesel trucks. He previously worked for Total Customs in Columbus and credits Henry and the Automotive program at EMCC with providing both opportunities.


“If it wasn’t for Dale Henry and EMCC, I don’t know where I’d be. He pushed me about as much as my parents to succeed, and that’s a lot,” said Brand.


Henry said the reputation of EMCC’s Automotive program goes a long way toward providing employment opportunities for students, but it’s up to the students to make the most of those opportunities, which Brand did.


“The thing we hear most from employers is how well prepared EMCC students are from a work ethic standpoint and their familiarity with the day-to-day aspects of the job. Which is how we have it set up in our garage, to replicate a working environment,” he said.


“There’s a lot of competition for jobs out there. But we feel like if a student comes recommended from us, they should make it if they apply themselves. When an employer sees EMCC on a resume, that’s more credible than a degree from any other school.”


Henry recalls being apprehensive about Brand, who was very rough around the edges when he applied to the Automotive program. But Brand surprised Henry by quickly becoming one of his most diligent students.


“I had no idea he would be a SkillsUSA contestant, let alone a two-time national champion. He never once complained about the extra time it took practicing for the competition either year. He’s one of the best students we’ve ever had in the Automotive program, top to bottom,” said Henry.


In addition to his SkillsUSA wins, Brand was the Automotive program’s Outstanding Student award winner at the Golden Triangle campus’s 2014 Awards Day program and a member of the National Technical Honor Society.


EMCC’s fall semester starts Aug. 18. The deadline for registration is Aug. 15. For more information visit​

Dale Brand of West Point won his second consecutive gold medal at National SkillsUSA competition this summer in Kansas City. The EMCC Automotive program graduate placed first in the Automotive Job Skills Demonstration Open category at both the state and national levels in 2013 and 2014.






Dale Brand graduated with an associate's degree

in Automotive Technology and went straight

to work maintaining diesel trucks at

Prestage Farms in West Point.


To take the next step toward your future,

register for the fall semester at EMCC.

Full-term classes begin Monday, Aug. 18.

The registration deadline is Friday, Aug. 15.


For more information:





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