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Top four to demonstrate their mastery at
Worldwide Competition in Park City, UT this August

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Certiport, the official test delivery solution provider for the global workforce and academic markets, would like to congratulate all of the participants in the United States Competition on Microsoft® Office.

More than 64,000 students from the United States competed from December 2009 to June 2010, demonstrating their proficiency with the world’s foremost desktop computing applications. The top four finalists will now prepare for the final leg of the Microsoft ® Office competition: the Certiport-sponsored Worldwide Competition held in Park City, Utah on August 8 — 10, 2010.

Student participants who outperformed their peers generally had perfect or near-perfect exam scores and completion times well below the allotted examination time. The individuals highlighted below will represent the United States for the title of “World Champ” at this year’s global competition.

2010 United States Competition Finalists

Nicole Sponaugle's pic

Nicole Sponaugle

Kaiserslautern High School
(DoDEA, VA), Germany
Microsoft Word 2003
Jason Bays' pic

Jason Bays

Eastern High School, KY
Microsoft Excel® 2003
Ryan Miguel's pic

Ryan Miguel

Danbury High School, CT
Microsoft Word 2007
Adrian Mercado's pic

Adrian Mercado

George Washington
High School, IL
Microsoft Excel® 2007

Learn more about the Worldwide Competition on Microsoft® Office at the
Official Competition Site.

Nicole Sponaugle's larger pic

Nicole Sponaugle

Kaiserslautern High School (DoDEA, VA), Germany
High School Class of 2010
Microsoft Word 2003 Finalist

Nicole Sponaugle, the Microsoft Word 2003 United States finalist, just graduated from Kaiserslautern High School, a U.S. military base school in Germany. Nicole has lived in Germany with her parents for the past 10 years, and plans to continue to live there while taking college courses online. She graduated with honors, took several Advanced Placement courses and obtained four Microsoft certifications.

“I had room in my schedule and decided to take the course that included Microsoft certification,” said Nicole. “I thought I was pretty good at using the applications, but I realized there was so much more they could do. I think I did well on the Microsoft Word certification because I took all four of the exams and they all have a similar format.”

At Kaiserslautern High School, students are encouraged to earn industry certifications to improve their desktop skills, which helps them complete their homework and create better presentations. Nicole was impressed that her certified skills are transferable and so whether or not she is attending school in Germany or elsewhere, her proficiency will be recognized across the globe.

Nicole attributes her success to her teacher and school, both big supporters of certification. She said students take practice tests utilized as baseline tests for assessment. And although her teacher wanted all students to be certified, she has raised the bar by requiring that a student must achieve at least a 95% on the baseline test in order to receive a voucher for the certification exam.

Nicole is excited to visit Utah for the Worldwide Championship, and she believes the certifications will help her in the future as she takes college courses online and works to become a substitute teacher on the military base in Germany.

Nicole said, “Some people think certifications are only for people who want a career in technology. I disagree – I am a prime example that anyone can benefit from taking the Microsoft certifications.”

Ryan Miguel's larger pic

Ryan Miguel

Danbury High School, CT
High School Class of 2010
Microsoft Word 2007 Finalist

Ryan Miguel, the U.S. finalist for Microsoft Word 2007, just graduated from Danbury High School in Connecticut. Ryan plans to major in Management Information Systems at Western Connecticut State this fall. Ryan always knew he would choose a technical major in college, so he prepared himself by taking business classes in high school and recently passed both the Microsoft Word and Excel 2007 certification exams.

“There was a lot of competition in high school, and I knew I had to do some things different in order to stand out," said Ryan. "Having an industry certification would be helpful for me on both job and college applications. It wouldn't be easy, but obtaining them would be well worth it.”

Ryan’s business education teacher, Diane Mohs, helped prepare him for the exam. She researched daily lessons and tutorials, gave regular practice tests and taught her class of 25 students the Microsoft exam objectives. Nine students took the exam, and they all passed.

“Computer skills come easy to Ryan, and knowing what he wanted to do after graduation helped motivate him even further in the class," said Diane. “Each student that took the certification exam was required to come in after school and take the test on their own time. Ryan is an example of student who showed initiative, determination, and went the second mile in order to demonstrate his technology skills at a proven level.”

Ryan is excited to compete on a global level, and believes the experience will bolster his resume and help him obtain technical jobs in the future.

Jason Bays' larger pic

Jason Bays

Eastern High School, KY
High School Class of 2013
Microsoft Excel® 2003 Finalist

Jason Bays, a self-proclaimed ‘computer nerd,’ is the U.S. finalist on Microsoft Excel 2003. Jason was first introduced to computers by his father at age five, and he has been immersed in technology ever since. As a freshman at Eastern High School in Kentucky, Jason is leaning towards a career in Web design and has already earned seven industry-recognized certifications before reaching age 15.

“I plan to work with computers for the rest of my life, and I know industry certifications will help me get into college and prove that I have the skills to perform technical jobs,” said Jason.

Eastern High School offers a large number of technology courses and opportunities for students to earn industry certifications. John Lanham, Eastern's IC³ and MOS testing and curriculum coordinator, said the key to having students succeed comes from continual assessment and high-quality, meaningful instruction leading towards an industry-recognized certification.

“Jason is very motivated, has natural-born problem solving skills and is a model student,” said John. “Most of my students are only 14-years-old, and obtaining technical certifications gives them an immediate step up – proving they have useful skills before they are even old enough to have a job.”

Jason took the Microsoft Excel 2003 certification in February 2010, and will be one of the youngest competitors at the Worldwide Competition on Microsoft Office where he will be tested on his ability to create, analyze and format data in Excel.

“Competing in the global competition is building my self confidence and this whole experience has inspired me to look for other ways to showcase my skills,” Jason added.

Adrian Mercado's larger pic

Adrian Mercado

George Washington High School, IL
High School Class of 2011
Microsoft Excel® 2007 Finalist

A year ago, U.S. finalist for Microsoft Excel 2007 Adrian Mercado was not sure what he wanted to do with his life. His grades were not a priority, but he has a passion for computers and enrolled in a computer software course at George Washington High School in Chicago. He took and passed the Microsoft Word and Excel 2007 certifications exams and found his drive – he was even on the honor roll by the end of the school year.

“As part of our computer course, we visited the Microsoft campus in Chicago and it was very inspiring,” said Adrian. “We had a guest speaker that spoke of his life's journey, something similar to my own. He had dropped out of school, but ended up going to college and now has a great job. Now as a finalist for the Microsoft competition, I not only feel like a celebrity at my school, but feel like I can accomplish anything.”

Adrian’s teacher, Michelle Ferguson, said he truly is a ‘go getter.” She sees certification as something that provides all her students with a step ahead in both academia and the workplace.

“Certification gives our students an edge over their peers,” said Michelle. “Many students start the course and are overconfident in their technical ability. However, once we dive deeper into course, most students will quickly agree there is so much more to learn. Once certified, a student can then prove they can really do what will be expected of them.”

Adrain volunteers at a local community center where he uses his skills in Excel to teach younger students how to more effectively create graphs, tables and charts. He is also a member of a school club, the Tech Crew, aimed to help teachers and others more effectively utilize Microsoft applications through an increased understanding of its features and functionality.

“Adrian is doing all that he can to succeed,” Michelle added. “He is very motivated and I am so proud of him. His hard work is paying off.”