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I just got back from San Diego, where I got to meet some of the finalists in the 2011 Worldwide Competition on Microsoft Office, hosted by our certification partner Certiport. For the 10th year, Certiport has held this competition to give students the chance to showcase their skills in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. What an experience! There were students from all around the world, and it was so gratifying to see their passion and camaraderie at the event. They were competing with each other but also helping each other and having fun in the process.One of the finalists, Juliana Toyloy-Stanton of Dunbar High School in Fort Myers, Florida, beat more than 70,000 United States students in Microsoft PowerPoint 2007. Here's what she had to say, as reported in the local press:“When I passed the Microsoft PowerPoint exam I felt like I could accomplish anything. My mom is from Trinidad and she didn’t have these types of opportunities, so I’m grateful for my participation in the Academy for Technology Excellence at Dunbar that offers me the opportunity to validate my skills. After I graduate I hope to work in game art and design, and Microsoft certification will be a good résumé booster for that career.”Good work, Juliana! Then there was the young lady from England, 15-year old Rebecca Rickwood, who won the Excel championship. The BBC interviewed her: “When I was waiting with all the other students from around the world to hear the result I was really nervous. I just can’t believe I won and now I’m world champion. It’s a day I’ll never forget.” Soon after the competition, ZDNet reported that Rebecca was offered a job upon completion of her schooling, with the Bath-based training firm Course Academy, for a lucrative six-figure salary. Let's repeat: she is 15.Beyond the enthusiasm of the individual students, it was amazing to see how this competition continues to increase in scale and popularity. I attended the same event held last year, and blogged about it then, and the growth this year was palpable. More than 228,000 students from 57 countries competed -- a 49 percent increase in participation from 2010. This is another proof point that the next generation doesn't only care about social media, but that many understand the importance of learning fundamental technology and computing skills.Each one of the student competitors had a profound aura of energy and confidence that made me believe these are the types of students who can succeed in any endeavor they pursue. I was just humbled that they chose Office as the subject of their passion and focus. The future generation of users is very important to us at Microsoft. For me, engagements like the Office World Championship refresh my enthusiasm for my job and give meaning to the kind of work we have the privilege to do in Office.Congratulations to everyone who competed in the Office World Championships!You can read all about the award winners at the Certiport website.
—Takeshi Numoto, Corporate Vice President, Office