Criminal Justice students from Volunteer State Community College took top honors in the 2021 SkillsUSA national competition recently. Nicole Fowler of Gallatin, Lesly Nunez of Hendersonville, and Wendy Sturgill of Westmoreland received Gold for Crime Scene Investigation. Sydney Mattern of Nashville won Gold in the Criminal Justice section. SkillsUSA is a career and technical student organization. The purpose is to increase professionalism in the work field through student training; student sessions with potential employers; competitions in educational areas; and scholarships.
“I don’t think I would have realized my love for Crime Scene Investigation if I hadn’t competed,” said Fowler. “I’ve met professionals in the field that have helped shape my future through practical experience. SkillsUSA has allowed me to meet MNPD (Metro Nashville Police Department) crime scene techs and the director of the TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) lab while advancing my knowledge in the field.”
Bradley Tracy, director of Criminal Justice at Vol State, is the SkillsUSA coordinator for the college. The students prepped for the tournament with the help of assistant chief Tim Anschuetz of the Vol State Campus Police. Adjunct professor, Metro Nashville Police lieutenant Frank Ragains, worked with the CSI team.
“Doing the CSI competition made me realize I want to be part of the field,” said Nunez.
“The competitions in Skills USA are literally as close to the real thing as you can get,” said Mattern. “This type of experience truly gives us a taste of the high stakes and unexpected situations dealt with by the police every day.”
Vol State Criminal Justice instructors come from a wide range of professional law enforcement and courts backgrounds. Students gain experience using the latest law enforcement training equipment, including drones and firearms situation simulators. For more information visit: www.volstate.edu/criminaljustice.
Pictured: Celebrating the win, left to right: Wendy Sturgill, Nicole Fowler, Lesly Nunez, and Frank Ragains.