Local student proving people wrong at skills competition

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Updated: 4/11 7:30 pm
RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- One local Washoe County high school student is standing out from the rest at this year's Skills USA Nevada competition. Last week, we showed you how dozens of young people are getting prepared for a high tech future, but one young woman is truly showing her mettle.

Kelsey Hicks of Reed High School is taking over a male-dominated contest. The 17-year-old took home gold in the Sheet Metal competition at the state-wide competition two weeks ago, for the second year in a row.

"And so being in a shop full of boys, they underestimate you a lot," Hicks said. "But you have to look past it and not really care what the guys say about you, because obviously they're going to say, because guys get mad when girls are better."

Hicks was one of eight competitors, and the only female, in the Sheet Metal competition this year. She said a lot of boys expected her to lose, but she proved them wrong. "Winning state and like, being up on the podium, is probably like one of the best feelings you could probably like ever experience, especially twice."

Hicks became interested in sheet metal after her teacher suggested she try it out, when she was recovering from a volleyball injury. "I had nothing to do and so Mr. Connolly (said), 'hey, why don't you compete in Skills USA,' and so that's when I did and finally learned what sheet metal was and then that's when I wanted to make a career out of it."

Although it may not look like a typical job for a woman, Hicks says it is her passion. "When you read your plan, you first lay it out and then you have to figure out if everything's going to fit together and then you have to cut it, you have to bend it, you have to shape it, you want to make it as clean as possible. I know it's not really a big thing for women to do, but it's something I want to do."

Last year, Hicks placed 13th in the National Skills USA Conference. She will compete again in late June, along with 23 other Washoe County students.

She said she will be wearing a big pink bow in her hair to stand out.
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