Chattanooga State Sends 2 Women To SkillUSA Competition

Monday, June 18, 2018 - by Betty Proctor, Chattanooga State
Breanna Britton
Breanna Britton

Over the course of six years, Chattanooga State’s associate instructor of collision repair Tim Chastain has welcomed females into a predominantly male setting with no regrets whatsoever. In fact, his female students competing in SkillsUSA for the past five years outnumber the males, 3-2. After each winning a gold medal during statewide competition in March, Breanna Britton and Caitlin White are headed to the national SkillsUSA competition on June 25 in Kentucky to show judges just what they’re made of – and they plan to win.

Not really knowing what collision repair was, Ms. Britton thought she was signing up for an easy study hall when she entered her freshman year of high school in Milan, Tn. On her first day of class, she was not listening to her instructor until he noticed her drawing on her hand and stopped to ask her if she liked to paint. Unsure what he meant, Ms. Britton followed him through the school’s body shop and into the paint booth while he explained its purpose. Before she knew it, he had placed a paint gun in her hand. “At that point, I hadn’t yet realized that refinishing was what I wanted to do with my life,” said Ms. Britton. Later into freshman year, after she had a little body work experience, she found out about SkillsUSA and asked her teacher who he was taking to the competition. When he replied that she wasn’t ready, she doubled down her efforts to focus on becoming ready.

That opportunity came during her junior year, but she let a friendship get in the way and chose not to compete. Her friend won first place at state instead, yet chose not to attend nationals and Ms. Britton realized her mistake. “I decided that I was not going to allow anybody to get between me and these opportunities again,” she said determinedly.

During her senior year, Ms. Britton’s opportunity to compete finally came and she won second place at the state SkillsUSA competition. She then made the decision to put her passion first and sought out the advice of her shop teacher who suggested that to be the best, she needed to attend the best collision repair program in the state at Chattanooga State’s Tennessee College of Applied Technology. Moving more than 200 miles from home and leaving her parents and five siblings behind was not an easy decision, but with financial help from the Tennessee Promise grant and landing a full-time job as a painter at Card Monroe Company, Ms. Britton knows what she wants and how to make her dreams a reality.

“Breanna sets high goals and is a goal achiever 100 percent,” said Mr. Chastain of his talented student, who is also a National Technical Honor Society member.

Ms. White’s obsession with cars came much earlier in life thanks to her father, Raymond, who took her to car shows, drag races, “and anything to do with cars,” said Ms. White. By the time she was 16, her dad said he was getting her a truck, which they looked at together before she fell in love with it. It took two years for them to refinish the truck, which only further served to fan her desire to be in the automotive world. 

Putting her knowledge of rebuilding a car to work using her years of hands-on experience led her to investigate the world of collision repair at Chattanooga State while she was a high school junior at Whitwell High School. In 2017 Ms. White chose Chattanooga State’s collision repair program to do work with the cars she loves. 

Instructor Mr. Chastain is quick to point out that when students first enter the program, he gives them the chance to explore all the aspects within the program during their first semester so that they can find their best fit. Ms. White’s experience and personality steered her toward becoming an estimator and her recent gold medal at SkillsUSA state proves it. “Caitlin greets everyone with a warm smile and she looks at everything methodically,” said Mr. Chastain. 

As Ms. White prepares for the national SkillsUSA competition, she is most looking forward to another new experience, meeting new people, and seeing what other opportunities await. “I’m preparing for it as I work at Padgett’s Red Bank Body Shop,” said Ms. White. “Owner Rick and estimators Tim, Dale and Nathan are all so helpful and just a blast to be around! For every estimate they do, I tagalong and write my own estimate while they write theirs, then we compare estimates. If it’s on a car parked near the body shop, we go over both estimates and I can actually see what I missed,” she adds.

With a total of five SkillsUSA medal winners, Mr. Chastian says it takes a lot of dedication and drive to be the best in your field. “SkillsUSA builds winners for life. Winning shows that you are the best in your field and that you want to succeed in your career. It sets you apart from the rest of the applicants,” he adds.

Both Ms. Britton and Ms. White have not let the fact that they are women deter them from entering and excelling in the male-dominated world of cars. Ms. Britton wishes to pay it forward by staying involved in SkillsUSA and making a name for women wishing to work in the industry, while Ms. White says, “I’m a girl and the first Skills winner in Estimating for Tennessee. I hope moreyoung women realize they can do whatever men can do – probably better!”

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Chattanooga State Community College consistently offers a high-quality education with an 18:1 student-to-teacher ratio, 96 percent job placement rate, and 98 percent licensure pass rate. For more information, visit www.chattanoogastate.edu/tcat.


Caitlin White
Caitlin White

GNTC Instructors Headline International Cybersecurity Month Webinar

Georgia Northwestern Technical College Computer Information Systems Program Director Dr. Dwight Watt and Georgia Northwestern Technical College Computer Technology Instructor Jill West spoke to information technology specialists around the globe on Oct. 11. It was part of the month-long international webinar series, “CyberFest 2018.” CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry ... (click for more)

Summerlin And Price Present At ACA Summit

Lee University’s Dr. Delia Price, assistant professor of education, and Dr. Donna Summerlin, chair of the Department of Language and Literature, presented at the annual Appalachian College Association Summit in Kingsport, Tn.  The summit brings together faculty, staff, and administrative leaders from across the ACA to engage in ongoing collaboration and share best practices ... (click for more)

City "Moves Away" From $4 Million Light Show On Walnut Street Bridge

The city is no longer pursuing a plan for a $4,050,000 light show on the Walnut Street Bridge. Dennis Malone, assistant city engineer, told City Council members on Tuesday, "We have moved away from that project." The council had earlier pulled capital funding that had been proposed for the "Ripples of Light" on the historic "walking bridge" that dates to 1891. “Ripples ... (click for more)

Developer Of Publix Grocery At St. Elmo To Go Before Variance Board

The developer of a planned Publix grocery in St. Elmo will go before the City Board of Zoning Appeals on Nov. 7 seeking three variances. Mike Price of MAP Engineers said the grocery has been working with community members to try to come up with an acceptable plan for the site where the former Mt. Vernon Restaurant and Pizza Hut are located. There has been controversy over ... (click for more)

Why Are Joda Thongnopnua And Phil Bredesen Downplaying Their Democratic Values?

For the past several months, the Democratic Party has reached a tipping point. “Their Resistance” is to oppose anything and everything Republicans are doing to deliver a stronger economy and better economic opportunities for all Americans.  Yet, I find it very interesting that the public outcry we are seeing from the Democrats on a national level is nowhere to be found when ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It’s ‘Tennessee Week’

For over 50 years I have heard the line, “There are two things you must never do on ‘The Third Saturday of October.’ You mustn’t ever marry and try not to die because, in either case, the preacher won’t show up.” He’ll be watching “The Game.” Ever since Oct 18, 1901, Tennessee and Alabama have been going at it and that inaugural game set the tone as well as the standard for all ... (click for more)