Zoom into the Life of an Outstanding CTE Student


Senior Nicole Long stands outside Verrado High School’s cafeteria. Long was nominated for the nationwide Outstanding CTE Student award which includes a scholarship and a trip to Washington D.C. to meet the president where she will discuss all of her accomplishments in Verrado’s CTE broadcast and graphic design programs. Photo credit to Krysyan Edler.

Krysyan Edler, Editor-in-Chief

Senior Nicole Long Candidate for Nationwide CTE Scholarship

Leaving a mark on Verrado’s CTE programs, senior Nicole Long is only the second student in the Agua Fria Union High School District to be nominated for the nationwide Outstanding CTE Student award. With this scholarship honor, Long has the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to meet the president and discuss her work in CTE.

Long is eligible for this award due to her hardwork and efforts in the Broadcast and Graphic Design programs. Students are eligible for this honor after completing one full CTE program and for excelling in their respective programs.

“She’s accomplished a lot in her four years of CTE,” Broadcast teacher and Arizona Interscholastic Press Association (AIPA) Vice President Mr. Mike Walker said. “She will have completed the film and TV program and she did two years in the graphic design program. In that time the past two years she has competed at regionals and state, she’s medalled in I think every event she’s competed in at both regionals and state. She’s done just about all of the leadership activities that she can do. She’s a very active CTE student.”

Last year Long had the opportunity to go to SkillsUSA Nationals. Such a feat is rare with only the top one percent of CTE students qualifying for nationals. Long scored in the top 20 percent with a score of 915 out of 1000.

It was a lot of fun,” senior Nicole Long said. “I met a whole bunch of people from all over the country and basically saw that they’re talented too and everyone has their own little niche that they get to express. It was such a cool experience. I am excited to go again this year if I win state.”

SkillsUSA has provided Long with the opportunity to work on numerous projects, including her favorite. Long has been a force behind the school’s annual month long homeless donation drive, Socktober.

I’ve done that for three years now,” Long said. “It’s been like my baby and I’m trying to get it to nationals. It’s a lot of hard work, and I like the challenging aspect of it.”

Her passion for broadcast was discovered freshman year. The results of that first class was unexpected as she stumbled upon her lifelong calling.

I started broadcast my freshman year because I needed a CTE class, and my mom wouldn’t let me in her class; so broadcast was my only other option,” Long said. “I already knew the teacher, so I figured it might as well be fun. It [the best moment] was probably last year when I got to do the daily show everyday. It was really fun to do and to see what people on TV actually do and the behind the scenes.”

That decision to enroll in broadcast four years ago has changed the course of Long’s life. As well as her passion for broadcast continues to grow.

“I like being in front of the camera and doing news stories,” Long said. “I am actually going to school for Media and Communications. I’m going into the news field. I like the freedom we get to basically create whatever we want and that we get to work together all the time. It’s just a lot of fun because I work with a lot of fun people that have good ideas.”

Long eventually found her way into her mother’s graphic design classes, a program she has been involved in for two years. Long values the experience she has gained in the graphics program.

“It’s the scenarios she makes up, and then I also have the opportunity to work for her t-shirt business; and I get some business opportunities in that and learning about it,” Long said.

Long has learned more from her mother than the curriculum she has taught. Long credits her mother as her role model.

“She has taught me a lot,” Long said. “She gives me tough love. I’ve learned a lot from that. [She’s taught me about] Networking and doing things I normally wouldn’t do.”

There are benefits of taking electives outside of the required core classes. Electives and CTE classes expose students to different opportunities and skills they would have never had the chance to experience outside of those classes.

CTE has taught me that I really need to network, get myself out there, meet new people, participate in new opportunities and just try to do as much as I can to expose myself to different things so I know what I want to do,” Long said. “Before CTE I did not know what I was going to college for and I had no idea what my future was. But it’s really helped me kind of find myself and like my future.”

Long is active in the school outside of the CTE department through her participation in Key Club, the National Honor Society, and the Hiking Club. Her time in StuGo is something she’ll always remember and appreciate.

I like the people and the opportunities that it’s brought,” Long said. “It’s really gotten me out of my shell, and it’s just a great experience. I’ve always wanted to be in it. I’m just happy that I have the opportunity to be in it.”

Her good character and leadership are qualities that do not go unnoticed. Long has made a lasting impression on the school.

“She’s kind and very trustworthy,” Spanish teacher and StuGo sponsor Mrs. Lauren Owens said. “She is definitely there in a time of need, and I think [that] a lot of StuGo recognizes that too. She is just a natural leader. People look up to her, and they respect her. She is willing to go above and beyond for her friends and those around her. She’s just awesome. She’s going to really leave a legacy behind here at Verrado. She’ll be hard to replace.”

Anyone that knows Long is sure of the bright future ahead of her. With her work ethic and passion, anything is possible and plausible for her future.

“Whatever she’s going to do, she’s going to be successful at [it],” Owens said. “I could see her going a lot of different routes, but either way she’ll work to be successful at it no matter what she chooses.”