Mother and daughter, April and Kiera Hiatt, now have something pretty special in common – shiny gold medals around their necks and the title of state champion. Kiera Hiatt recently won the state SkillsUSA competition in prepared speech, the same event her mother won 27 years earlier.
April Hiatt won the prepared speech competition in 1988 for the state of California while attending Grace M. Davis High School in Modesto. Back then SkillsUSA was still known by its former name VICA (Vocational Industrial Clubs of America). As the state winner, April advanced to the national competition in Wichita, KS, but did not place.
27 years later, her daughter Kiera was hoping to compete at the Alabama SkillsUSA competition, but didn’t know if she wanted to compete in her chosen career technical field of Computer Aided Drafting and Design. Kiera said while she has enjoyed learning about CAD, it isn’t necessarily something she wants to pursue as a degree in college. And, she realized there were other students at her school who are far more gifted and talented in the field.
Kiera chose to compete in prepared speech because she taught she could do well, especially with her mom there to give her some pointers. After she chose her area of competition, Kiera got busy crafting and refining her speech with input not only from her mom, but her teachers at the College and Career Center. The topic to be addressed by contestants in the prepared speech competition was how the theme, SkillsUSA: 50 Years of Champions at Work, addresses the SkillsUSA national program of work in the area of professional development.
“I have danced since I was 3 years old and I really want to own my own dance studio one day,” Kiera said. “My speech centered on how the skills in have learned will one day help me to be a successful business owner.”
Those skills included communication, teamwork and the values of honesty, diligence, hard work, integrity, accountability, confidence, perseverance, and discipline.
“I end the speech by saying that one day I hope my own dance students will be able to look back and see 50 years of champions at work,” she said.
Kiera said her mom was very helpful giving advice on the delivery of the speech. One helpful tip was not to use the podium, but rather stand in front of it and address the crowd directly. She ended up being the only contestant at the state competition who didn’t use the podium.
April, who watched the competition, said she felt her daughter was the hands-down winner.
“Even if she wasn’t my daughter I would have said the same thing,” April said with pride. “She went first and really just set the tone for the event.”
Kiera, who graduated on May 19, will get the opportunity to give her speech again during the National SkillsUSA competition June 22-26 in Louisville, KY.