Recognizing His Digital Skills Beyond the Classroom

Asa Gordon

Winning a national award at SkillsUSA last year in video game design gave Asa Gordon the confidence to compete again this year in digital animation and 3D modeling. As he and his teammate, Alondra Chavez, won first place in the state competition in April, they are on track again this year to compete in the national competition in June, in Louisville, Kentucky. In fact, SkillsUSA was more than a competition as Gordon learned from another team about a game engine which he will soon share with architecture students.

It didn’t take long for Gordon to learn that studying in college can be more challenging than in high school. When he didn’t get into the digital effects program right away, he began taking general education classes. “I brought my high school work ethic to college of waiting until the last minute and realized that wasn’t working…I only passed one class that semester!”

He quickly turned things around and would spend hours in the classroom, outside of class, doing research and tutorials to expand his technical skills. That is most likely what landed Gordon a job as a laboratory technician for the digital effects and animation lab.

Gordon shared, “I had my application for Wendy’s with me at school to apply for a job after class. Then Mr. Burns (former department chair of Digital Effects and Animation) called me and offered me the job as a lab tech. I was so excited I didn’t even ask if it was a paid position!”

Getting noticed outside the department, Gordon’s skills preceded him. When a local entrepreneur, Bianca Woodberry, was interested in working on a product development project with Forsyth Tech, she contacted David Dinkins, department chair of Advanced Manufacturing. Dinkins contacted John Kelly, program coordinator of Digital Effects, who said Gordon was the one for the project. Gordon took ownership for designing a prototype and went from concept to development, working with Woodberry. Her product will launch this fall.

Gordon’s family is originally from Guyana, South America, and moved to New York before Asa was born. They moved to Winston-Salem when he was eight. Asa’s goal for his future was to work in video gaming and move back to New York. However, he’s made so many connections here, he feels he will stay in N.C. for a while.

With the variety of skills he has developed at Forsyth Tech, he is re-thinking his future options. “I’m going where the wind takes me,” he laughed.

Following graduation in the spring, he won’t travel far as he will be teaching a game engine called “Unreal Engine” to architecture students at Forsyth Tech during summer school. They will use the game engine to learn more about 3D modeling and rendering architectural plans. Asa says he continues to learn different ways to digitally represent his designs.

How High a Stokes Falcon Can Fly

Tori Hicks

Having attended Stokes Early College since the 9th grade, Tori Hicks seems wiser than her years. One of her instructors, Elizabeth Guiles, English teacher, Senior Class Sponsor and proclaimed “Graduation Guru,” described Hicks as never letting her situation or environment control her attitude. Despite difficult circumstances, and sometimes working two jobs, Hicks managed to be in the top percentage of her graduating class.

Tori demonstrated incredible determination and diligence, showing other students just how high a Stokes Falcon can fly when she is willing to put in the work and take advantage of Stokes’ programs. In addition to her strong work ethic, Tori embodies kindness and compassion towards her fellow classmates and teachers. She is a young woman of strong character and great heart, which will carry her far in her nursing career goals.

“As the oldest of five children, I wanted to set an example for my brothers and sisters and do well in school,” said Hicks. “In the future, I would like to come back to Stokes County and give back to the community that helped raise me.”

A member of the Student Government Association during her junior and senior years, Hicks was also on the prom committee. She graduated summa cum laude and was the graduation speaker for her senior class. Hick’s future plans include enrolling in the Associate Degree in Nursing program at Forsyth Technical Community College to become a Registered Nurse (RN).