As the world prepares for the Tokyo Olympics later this month, two Pellissippi State Community College students already have brought home a Bronze for their skills in video production.
Media Technologies majors Tom Sidorski and Josh Wilson were awarded the Bronze medal for Television (Video) Production at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference this summer.
Despite this being the first year Pellissippi State has participated in SkillsUSA, Sidorski and Wilson also won Gold at the state competition in March.
“We are very proud, but not surprised by our students being recognized at the state level and nationally,” said Matthew Spraker, director of Student Engagement and Leadership for Pellissippi State. “Pellissippi State has bright and creative students producing amazing work, and it is great when we get to share that with the rest of the world!”
Founded in 1965, SkillsUSA is a nonprofit partnership of education and industry that helps students develop necessary personal and workplace skills along with technical skills grounded in academics, according to the organization.
For the state competition in March, Sidorski and Wilson were given the prompt to create a video that would persuade students to join a Tennessee Board of Regents institution. TBR oversees the state’s 13 community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology.
“During the pandemic, a lot of people were dropping out left and right – no one was continuing to go to school,” Sidorski explained. “Josh and I had to formulate how we could get this to make sense visually, and we had to show what Pellissippi State was like before the pandemic, which was a challenge because we didn’t have a lot of people on campus this spring.”
Making the assignment even more challenging was a short deadline. Video Production Technology Program Coordinator Katie Lovette, who has been teaching at Pellissippi State for 15 years, said she wasn’t sure Sidorski and Wilson would be able to complete the task on such a tight schedule – but they got right to work.
“I just jumped on and wrote the script throughout the day,” said Wilson, who drew from his own experience as a 31-year-old returning student. “I focused on a message of ‘It’s not too late to chase what you actually want to do,’ and emphasized that, with both online classes and lower-capacity in-person classes, this was actually a good time to jump in.”
When Sidorski arrived on campus later that Friday, the team shot all the video. Sidorski recorded the voiceovers and edited the video over the weekend.
Despite the rushed timeline, Sidorski and Wilson’s project took home top prize in the state competition, which they found out during a virtual awards celebration April 5.
“Tom and Josh walked in and won Gold after having just had the weekend to produce it,” Lovette said. “This was an amazing team. These two worked together wonderfully, and they made history.”
The national competition put all the state winners on equal footing – giving each team the same footage and music to produce a video in eight hours. In fact, Sidorski and Wilson cannot share their Bronze-winning project because the assets provided to the teams by SkillsUSA are copyrighted.
“Tom’s and Josh’s performance at the state and national level is a testament to their grit and professionalism and reflective of our VPT program’s quality at Pellissippi State,” said Dean of Students Travis Loveday. “Like professionals in the field, they needed to perform at their peak under tight deadlines and navigate ambiguous situations in these competitions. Pellissippi State has prepared them to meet, overcome and excel through these challenges. Both Tom and Josh have bright futures ahead of them, and we are very proud of their accomplishments.”
With SkillsUSA behind them, Sidorski and Wilson are staying busy in the field, with Sidorski interning at The Production Hive in logging and digitizing and Wilson working as a production assistant at O’Malley Productions, which is producing “Food Paradise” for the Travel Channel.
It’s a good fit for both students, who did not know each other before meeting at Pellissippi State but each grew up making movies.
“I used to shoot a lot of shorts and sketches with my brother, and I would edit them and put them on YouTube,” said Wilson, who previously worked in insurance after earning a degree in business management. “After realizing I didn’t want to go in day after day and do something I hated, I thought I’d come back to school and learn how to do VPT legitimately.”
Sidorski, 20, said he planned to pursue a degree in chemical engineering until he saw the VPT curriculum at Pellissippi State.
“Since 2010, I’ve been making videos, and in high school, I would do videos for people,” he explained. “That’s what I took pride in. I thought, ‘I’m good at the video stuff; I should do this.’”
Sidorski is on track to graduate from Pellissippi State in fall 2021 and Wilson in spring 2022. Both students find themselves drawn toward the editing/post-production side of VPT, they said, and would encourage other Pellissippi State students to participate in SkillsUSA in their fields.
“This was really good professional experience in that we were given a deadline and certain criteria to follow to the letter,” Wilson said. “It will look really good on a resume, too.”
For those competing in Television (Video) Production, however, Sidorski shares a word to the wise: “Get your speed editing skills down!”
For more information about Pellissippi State’s Media Technologies program with a concentration in Video Production Technology, visit www.pstcc.edu/mdt/vpt. Those students who are interested in participating in SkillsUSA for Pellissippi State in any area should contact Student Engagement and Leadership at email@example.com.