A Carroll County woman will be representing the United States in a worldwide competition in Russia with her talents in print media technology.
WorldSkills hosts the world championships of skills every two years, attracting more than 1,600 competitors from more than 76 countries and regions around the world to compete in more than 50 different trade skills, according to a WorldSkills USA news release.
Brittany Whitestone, a Winters Mill High School alumna from Westminster, has been working with print media technology since she was 15 years old. Originally, she wanted to do graphic design but found passion for a different platform at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center.
“I went because I wanted to be a graphic designer, but going through the program, we learned about graphic design and print, and I ended up finding that I loved print more,” Whitestone said. “It was something really cool, interesting and different. There’s not many people I hear like ‘Oh yeah, I’m into printing.’ I got to go to an internship at a company called Westland Printers and that gave me a couple weeks in each section of the shop and that really made me want to continue to do this, so I joined the competition.”
Whitestone uses different printing equipment, one being offset presses — which she uses in competition — and the other being digital equipment. She has to mix ink and perform maintenance on both machines. The printing process involves multiple parts and processes, but think of it as the work with ink, metal and paper that a printing press uses to produce a newspaper.
She competed in her first regional competition at the age of 17 and, after placing second, she decided she needed to work harder.
“When I first went, compared to all the other regions, I got second place that day,” Whitestone said. “I was like ‘Oh wow, I really need to step it up.’ So, I created what I call my print bible, it’s a five-inch binder that has everything printing-related that I have ever learned in my life. I’ve cut apart books and hole-punched them and put them in this binder. I have notes in it, I have practice tests, I have finished practice tests with notes on it. So, I use that binder to study for states and nationals.”
SkillsUSA, the national representative of the U.S. WorldSkills team, organizes the regional and national competitions in which Whitestone has participated.
Due to all of Whitestone’s hard work after regionals, she later went on to win nationals, which was a complete surprise to her but ultimately, she said, it was because of her dedication and passion for what she does.
In her preparation for her competitions, Whitestone has to work with a large printing machine that is hard to come by. She had to drive an hour away twice a week to a facility with the equipment to train.
“For the national competition, I went to the Center of Applied Technologies North in Severn, and I’m from Westminster, so I drove like an hour a couple times a week to practice on some of the equipment because my high school doesn’t have the equipment needed,” Whitestone said. “The Carroll County Technology Center didn’t have the presses that we needed in order to be able to train to go to nationals, so I would drive down there often. So, now since I’m training for worlds, it’s a bigger scale, so I actually drive to Allentown, Pa., and I train there for a couple days a week on their equipment at the Lehigh Career and Technical Institute.”
Her family has been supportive of her success in print media technology and her competitions.
“My family is very excited,” Whitestone said, “they’ve actually been able to see me compete at the state level and whenever I go to a competition, whether it’d be like nationals or whatever, they’re always watching the award ceremonies at home. I think that’s really cool to have such an amazing support system. Whenever I go to train, sometimes they want to go along with me to see exactly what it is that I do because they didn’t really know what printing was when I first started. Having them interested in what I do is really cool.”
Whitestone, 20, is a rising senior at California University of Pennsylvania, where she is majoring in graphics in multimedia and where she does print and design. Whitestone hopes to keep competing, and after graduation she wants to find a job in the industry of print media.
“This is something I want to do for the rest of my life. I graduate next year, and I hope that when I graduate I can jump right in and get into the industry and work in it for the rest of my life. I have like two ideas in my mind and I haven’t really decided yet, but one of them is I want run offset equipment, like what we use in the competition. I also want to estimate, which is essentially finding out the price of the different jobs on different equipment.”
Although Whitestone is feeling some hesitation about competing in Russia, she is also excited to expand her knowledge of other cultures while competing.
“I am excited and scared. I’m really excited to be able to go and learn from all the other cultures — I think that’s going to be one of the coolest experiences of this. When I went to France back in November, seeing how they do things and seeing how it’s different from how we do things was really cool, so I feel like seeing that on a world scale will be really, really interesting.” She went to a competition in France as an exhibition competitor, she said, so she couldn’t compete to place for a medal.
For others interested in joining the world of print media technology or WorldSkills, Whitestone wants them to know one main thing — “never give up.”
“I remember my first competition when I got second place I was completely devastated, but it’s not something you should just ‘OK, I’ll give up’ because if you keep trying you can get to where you need to be.”
Whitestone is scheduled to leave for Russia on Aug. 18, and the competition will be held from Aug. 22 to 27.
The WorldSkills USA competitions are important to Whitestone — she’s amazed at how far it has taken her.
“[SkillsUSA] has really been the biggest part of my life for the part four or five years. When I started, I didn’t think I’d get to where I am today. I kind of started as like, ‘Oh this sounds fun, let me sign up for this,’ but … I’ve grown so much, I’ve been able to meet people and network. It’s been an amazing experience.”