Manatee Technical College students advance to SkillsUSA state competition | From the Observer

MTC cosmetology students among medal winners in SkillsUSA competition in Bradenton.

During the regional SkillsUSA competition, Manatee Technical College cosmetology students Christian Zambrano, Genesis Martinez and Izzy Tapia were just numbers.

The judges didn’t know their names, their skills or anything about the students who enrolled in the technical college’s cosmetology course in August.

Being known by only a number helped Zambrano, Martinez and Tapia relax for a moment as they knew there were no expectations because they are students at MTC or because they have a certain teacher. It was a blank slate.

“Sometimes it’s good just to be a number,” Zambrano said.

Zambrano, Martinez and Tapia let their cosmetology and passion show through during the regional SkillsUSA competition Feb. 10 at MTC.

Manatee Technical College cosmetology students Christian Zambrano, Genesis Martinez and Izzy Tapia look forward to competing at the SkillsUSA state competition.

Zambrano, Martinez and Tapia all have had an interest in hair and makeup for years and want to pursue careers in cosmetology, which Tapia said the judges could see.

“It’s crazy how sometimes you don’t believe in yourself and then somebody comes back and tells you, ‘This is perfection,’” Zambrano said. “You don’t see it. You have to step back 20 feet away and see it from somebody else’s point of view.”

Their passion and dedication to learning their skills paid off when Zambrano, Martinez and Tapia were given gold, silver and bronze medals respectively at the competition. They were among 26 MTC students to receive medals at the competition, and many of them will go on to compete at the SkillsUSA state competition April 18-21 in Jacksonville, Florida.

The competition didn’t come without its challenges and anxieties.

The cosmetology students and Marine Service Technology students Logan LaFave and Terry Jones, who received gold and silver respectively, all didn’t practice their tasks with a time constraint.

“We went from working at our own pace to all of a sudden having 20 minutes to do something that we’ve never been able to do in under an hour prior,” LaFave said.

Anxiety came from knowing industry professionals were judging them on their work.

Zambrano watched in horror as the judges shook her mannequin head around trying to get her 1940s style updo to fall.

She was relieved to see that not one strand of hair fell out of place.

The students were thankful the judges spent the time to provide constructive criticism to help them improve.

“They were showing us some tips and tricks to accomplish the tasks in a timely manner after the competition was said and done,” LaFave said. “They stuck around to help show everybody those things, which was pretty neat.”

Logan LaFave and Terry Jones, who are Marine Service Technology students at Manatee Technical College, received a gold and silver medal respectively at the regional SkillsUSA competition.

All the students look forward to the opportunity to see how their skills and training measure up to others in the state. The state competition also will give them an opportunity to learn techniques from other competitors.

Participating in SkillsUSA has given some students an opportunity to showcase their skills to potential employers. Local salons already have expressed interest in hiring Zambrano, Martinez and Tapia.

The cosmetology students are proud to have the skills to be able to take any type of hair and make it into something beautiful.

“It’s like when you’re a little kid and you get so excited over the smallest thing that only you understand,” Tapia said. “You just do this little happy dance.”


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