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Davis Journal

Davis Tech names Student of the Year

Jan 30, 2023 01:06PM ● By Becky Ginos

Davis Tech President Darin Brush congratulates Tytan Smith who was selected as Student of the Year. The award is given to a student who has excelled in his or her program. Photo by Becky Ginos

KAYSVILLE—Davis Technical College (DTC) is celebrating its 43rd anniversary as an institution and naming a Student of the Year has been a tradition at the school. This year’s five finalists were introduced by their mentors at a luncheon held in their honor last week.

“This represents what’s best about Davis Tech and our students,” said President Darin Brush. “You cut through the static that bogs us down. Your voice is valid and means something to this state. Only you can speak it.”

There were 28 applicants, the most they’ve ever had, said Brush. “Applicants had to submit an essay and work with world class instructors and mentors before the final selection was made. This is the hardest thing we do every year is to choose a student of the year.”

Many have powerful, tragic stories, he said. “Thank you for being vulnerable. You inspired us and made us better leaders.”

The Student of the Year will take part in outreach for the school, said Brush. “They will be the voice that tells the story of Davis Tech.”

Mentor Leslie Simpson spoke about finalist Neudys Hernandez who is in the Esthetician program. “She is a wife, mother and doctor who left behind a medical degree in Venezuela for a better life,” said Simpson. “She has come from hard places to get here. Neudys encourages everyone around her. She says ‘everybody has problems I just keep going and hope for good.’”

Simpson also introduced finalist Isabella Montes who is in Business Administration Services. “At 17 she unexpectedly became a mother,” said Simpson. “She had an opioid addiction for 10 years and struggled with that. One day she woke up in the ER. That was a turning point for her. She realized ‘I could do more than this.’”

She pulled herself out of that and has been clean for three years, said Simpson. “She has been a good example for her son and her family.”

Cole Dean spoke about finalist Tytan Smith who is in the Electrician Apprentice Program. “If there is a job that needs to be done he gets it done,” said Dean. “He’s one of the most determined people I’ve met. If he puts time toward something he’s going to go all out. His attitude is contagious. It makes you a better person being around him.”

Mentor Curt Cooper introduced finalist Gabriel Tibbets who is in the Welding Tech program. “He really impressed me,” said Cooper. “You talk to him for 10 minutes and you are his best friend. He has the incredible ability to never give up. I know he’s going to be successful.”

Andrea Buchanan spoke about finalist Shantel Turley Wade who is in the Esthetician program. “She endured abuse and at 5 was responsible for every meal,” said Buchanan. “She had to drop out of school to take care of the children and pay the bills.”

Shantel finally got her GED before she was 30, Buchanan said. “She also went through a difficult marriage. She turned trials into triumphs.”

After the introductions, Tytan Smith was named the Student of the Year, with Shantel Turley Wade as runner up. Smith will receive $1,500 and a $1,000 scholarship. Wade will receive $1,000 and a $750 scholarship. The three remaining finalists will receive $600 and a $500 scholarship. The Electrician Apprentice program was named the program of the year.

“These are amazing people with amazing stories,” said Smith. “We all have done special things. I’m passionate about Davis Tech and all it stands for and what it has done for me in my life.”

Smith said he started in high school and worked as an electrician during the summer. “I realized there was a program there (DTC). I wouldn’t have done well in college. People need to be doctors and lawyers and go to traditional colleges. But I wanted to get out in the field and actually practice what I need to know.”

Davis Tech is career oriented, he said. “I’ll finish in the spring and then work on getting my journeyman's license. I’d like to own my own company and then go from there.”

These are powerful stories about personal strength, said Brush. “Their work is more than a paycheck. Our motto is ‘We change lives’ but in the process our lives are changed. This is the energy we run on.”