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Waubonsee Student Wins Gold Medal at SkillsUSA National Competition

Jose Martinez-Joya

A Waubonsee Community College student has staked a claim to being the best auto body student in the country, after taking top honors in his category at the SkillsUSA National Skills Competition.

Jose Martinez-Joya, 24, of Carpentersville, took the gold medal among college/postsecondary students in the Automotive Refinishing Technology category at the national skills competition held June 23-27 in Kansas City, Mo.

The multi-day competition involved hands-on skills demonstrations, including preparing automotive body parts for painting, operating a paint spray gun, spot refinish repairs and identifying and correcting paint match problems, as well as written testing and other auto body repair-related tasks, such as creating a written repair estimate.

The skills were based on the task list outlined by the National Institute for Automotive Excellence (ASE) and the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation.

Martinez-Joya competed against students from 27 other colleges and postsecondary institutions.

“When they called my name, I felt relieved,” said Martinez-Joya. “It’s a lot of work, so it was a sense of relief and happiness that it got to all pay off.”

Waubonsee Assistant Professor of Automotive Body Repair Andrew MacDonald, who accompanied Martinez-Joya to the competition, said the student’s work, approach and attitude were all exemplary. He noted Martinez-Joya needed to study materials related to the competition outside of class and practice for the contest on his own time on weekends, while working six days a week.

“Waubonsee could not have had a more humble, professional and hardworking student representing us in this competition,” said MacDonald. “Jose is a true champion.”

Martinez-Joya, who immigrated to the U.S. about 10 years ago, had worked as an automotive repair technician for six years at a shop in Elgin before discovering Waubonsee’s automotive body repair program in 2013.

“I’ve learned so much here,” Martinez-Joya said. He credited his success, in part, to MacDonald’s skill and knowledge as an auto body repair professional and instructor.

“He’s a great, great person, and very experienced,” Martinez-Joya said. “He really knows his stuff and can teach it to others.”

Martinez-Joya’s win marks the second consecutive year in which a Waubonsee auto body student has taken a gold medal at SkillsUSA. In 2013, student Matt Meyer placed first in the country in the Collision Repair Technology category.

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