Photography Student Wins Gold Medal on SkillsUSA

Brenda Melara, Writer

A selected group of students from the Advanced Photography class of Ronda Cordova went to Ontario, California on April 19, 2018 to participate in SkillsUSA in the categories of Photography and Career Pathway Showcase. At the end of the week, Leslie Paniagua, 12,  won the gold medal in the category of photography and will be representing California at SkillsUSA Nationals in Kentucky.


In addition to the award in the category of photography, the student Hailey Hage, 12,  won in the bronze medal for the category of Career Pathway Showcase (CPS). The CPS category is for arts and communications explores how any field of business photography would benefit the community. This was the first time Downey High participates in this category, the representatives selected by Mrs. Cordova were Hailey Hage who focused on senior portraits and Ashlyn Spaziano, 12, on sports photography. They had to do research on their chosen subject, explain their their research process, create a poster board with all the information and finally present it to a judge.


As on the category of photography, the first day was an opening ceremony, the second day competed two days on a test section. The competitors were given an assignment to shoot for the rest of the days. Leslie Paniagua had the assignment of point of view and she decided to take many pictures and combine it as one in Photoshop. Finally, after submitting her picture she had an interview with the SkillsUSA judges


Leslie Paniagua, 12, talks about her experience overall and gives her advice to anyone interested in competing in the future.


“Something I do wanna say is that going into Skills I wasn’t super confident in myself and I didn’t think I could do it and now I would be representing California,” Paniagua said. “All I would like to say is that you guys gotta believe in yourself and anything is possible if you just try and believe in yourself.”


Cordova talks about her opinion in the group of students she had who participated and her opinion about the winner.


“I was really excited; I had a really good group of kids. They never complained about anything and took charge of their own competition,” Cordova said. “My girl that I had for photography was a little nervous but I knew she could do it; it was just building her confidence and help her believe in herself, which paid off cause she won gold.”


Hailey Hage, 12, talks about her reaction to winning Bronze on the category of Career Pathway Showcase for SkillsUSA.


“It was a really good experience and I’m glad that I got the opportunity of doing it because I learned a lot of different things like how to be professional in that kind of environment,” Hage said. “I was really happy that we won bronze because I did wanted a place but I didn’t wanna go to Nationals cause that would be a lot of work.”


In the end, the school will have the opportunity to represent California in the category of Photography for the 2018 SkillsUSA Nationals, this event will take place in Kentucky on June 25, 2018.