Mary Kamuiru was chosen from a pool of 14 nominees out of the more than 2,000 Tennessee Technology Center students as Chattanooga State Community College’s Outstanding Student of the Year.

Each year, TTC instructors nominate exceptional students to attend an Outstanding Student of the Year luncheon, and the winner is named there. The judges who chose this year’s winner, an aesthetics student, called the decision “excruciating.”

Nominees are judged on community service, leadership, attendance and performance in the classroom. Judges also look at obstacles that the students have faced, such as deaths in the family, single parenthood, etc.


Kamuiru and her family came to the United States 18 yeas ago from Kenya to join her father, who was attending seminary. Thanks to winning a green card lottery, they were granted admission to this country and a chance for citizenship.

Kamuiru lives in Chattanooga with her daughter, Rachel.

Kamuiru earned a nursing degree from UTC and has worked part time in Memorial Hospital’s ER. Currently, she’s working in Chattanooga State’s Enrollment Services Department. Her goal is to become a technology instructor in either practical nursing or aesthetics. Additionally, she would like to own a medical aesthetics business.

She has risen through the ranks of SkillsUSA from local chapter president in 2011 to secretary at the state level. She was elected national secretary in June of this year at the annual SkillsUSA conference in Kansas City.

Next for Kamuiru is the regional competition in Knoxville on Dec. 6. The regional winners will be announced on Dec. 11. From there, the top three candidates will attend the American Technical Education Association Conference, held annually in Chattanooga and beginning March 20.

The Outstanding Student of the Year winner for the state of Tennessee will be announced at a banquet with an expected attendance of more than 900. The winner receives the keys to a new car.

Other candidates for Outstanding Student of the Year were Misty Smith, who along with Kamuiru was nominated by aesthetics instructor Rhonda Castleberry; Andrew Lippard, nominated by automotive technology instructors Bill Heckathorn and Marty Hicks; Kyle Barham, nominated by computer operations technology instructors Jill Wentworth and Mike Mercer; David Benton, nominated by industrial electricity instructor/industrial electronics Winston Lay; Sarah Carrico, Melissa Hargis and Lynette Hargis, nominated by medical assisting instructor Cindy Quick; Stephanie Lewis, nominated by massage therapy instructor Michael Matthews; Jonathan Carmack, Harrison Eller and Keith Pruett, nominated by machine tool instructor Wade Silvey; Kristie McDowell, nominated by motorcycle and marine engine instructors Ed Grun and Jimmy Jones; and Ryan Whary, nominated by Volkswagen Academy automotive mechatronics instructor Ralph Gwaltney.