WCC welding student Mikala Sposito shooting for national title in Atlanta

June 18, 2024 Rich Rezler

Mikala Sposito
Mikala Sposito prepares to start a practice session in the WCC welding lab. She will compete for a national title at the Skills USA National Leadership & Skills Conference in Atlanta on June 24-28. (Photo by Rebecca Thomas)


Already firmly established as one of the best student welders in the state of Michigan, Washtenaw Community College’s Mikala Sposito is now ready to take on the nation. And then … the world!

Sposito earned a gold medal in the college division of the Skills USA Michigan State Welding Competition in April, qualifying her to compete at the Skills USA National Leadership & Skills Conference in Atlanta on June 24-28.

At the state competition, she was joined on the medalist podium by fellow WCC students Sam Shaw (silver) and Elliot Bell (bronze).

Although she’s a first-year college student, this isn’t Sposito’s first foray into a national welding competition. Skills USA also offers a high school division, in which Sposito won a state title last year as a senior at Dexter High School and finished 14th at the national competition. She took welding courses through the South & West Washtenaw Consortium.

“The national level is definitely a little more cut-throat and I’m more motivated to do well this year,” Sposito said. “Last year I wasn’t able to practice as much as I wanted because I was a senior in high school and balancing being on the track team, graduation and prom.”

WCC welding instructor Alex Pazkowski – a national champion and 2013 World Skills silver medalist himself – is mentoring Sposito through the competition process.

Pazkowski believes Sposito’s experience at the high school national finals will be beneficial as she pursues a college division national medal and qualification into the World Skills competition that culminates in Shanghai, China in 2026.

“I have no doubt that Mikala understands the stress, format, and fundamentals necessary to finish on the podium,” Pazkowski said. “Our current focus lies on the post-nationals projects. These are exponentially harder than the projects she'll do at nationals. She will be well prepared.”

Making it through the qualifying levels to reach Shanghai would make Sposito the first female representative from the United States to compete in the World Skills finals. No female has ever placed at the international competition.

Qualification for World Skills also comes with a $40,000 scholarship and a major boost in her chosen profession.

“It comes with a lot of credibility that will open up doors for me,” Sposito said. “I’d love to pursue a bachelor’s degree after my time at WCC, so being able to finish college without any debt would be huge. That’s my main motivation for all of this.”

Before taking on the world, Sposito will attempt to become the seventh WCC student to win a Skills USA national title. Current WCC Welding & Fabrication program instructors Glenn Kay (1997), Pazkowski (2010) and Brad Clink (2011) were all national title winners while students at the college.

Ray Papierniak took home the title in 2018, joining his instructors and fellow former students Miles Tilley and Joe Young on the program’s Wall of Fame.


Tags: Skills USA, SkillsUSA, Welding, Welding and Fabrication

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