Skills to pay the bills

Tech campus students compete at SkillsUSA competition


Photo by Photo used with permission by Caroline Clouse

Cosmetologists work on their models’ makeup at Skills USA. Caroline Clouse, junior, who participated in this event,. said that it was very interesting to see what other artists were doing, and that one of the participants “drew a spider that looked like it was alive.”

Competitions at LZ rarely involve the use of surgical gloves or makeup brushes, blood pressure monitors or eyeshadow palettes, but the event that two tech campus students competed in is one exception.

Anthony Libman and Caroline Clouse, junior tech campus students, competed at Skills USA’s 2019 State Leadership and Skills Conference, April 11-13, where they proved their expertise in their respective fields through hands-on tasks given to them by professionals in their industry.

“It’s a great environment because there’s tons of employers [at Skills USA] who watch you  which gives you more of a chance of getting into whatever field you’re interested in,” Libman said, “You’re usually given a written test at first, and then after that you have to actually perform a lot of the things you would actually do in real life in that field.”

Since the competition is specialized by field, there were a variety of experiences to be had. While Libman, who placed 3rd in medical assisting, was busy measuring vitals, taking blood pressure manually, and putting on surgeon gloves, Clouse, who placed 5th in cosmetology, was tasked with doing facials and creating an optical-illusion makeup look.

For both participants, the events that they chose to do at Skills USA were directly related to their hopes for the future. Clouse said that her participation in Skills USA was not just a means to practice her cosmetology skills and work towards her long term goal of opening her own salon, but also a way to prove herself.

“I love what I do and I thought that [Skills] would be a great way to prove not only to myself but to my family that I’m serious about [cosmetology],” Clouse said. “Originally, my dad wanted me to get into real estate but doing this is showed him that I’m actually serious about [cosmetology], that I want to do this and I’m going to do well at it because nobody knows myself better than me. And now my dad is very proud of me and he says he couldn’t imagine me anywhere else now.”


Photo used with permission of Anthony Libman
Anthony Libman, junior, standing with his 3rd place plaque and his medical assisting teacher. Through her lessons at tech school. Libman said he was well prepared for his Skills USA event..

Libman also chose to participate in his event for a reason: in the future, he hopes to become a registered nurse. After competing in medical assisting this year, he says that he will most likely compete in nurse assisting next year, as stepping stones towards his dream.


“I volunteered at Good Shepherd last summer, which introduced me to the medical world,  and it just seemed really interesting to me,” Libman said. “I liked helping the patients and everything and I didn’t do much then, but I still liked that experience so I thought if I got to do that on a higher level I’d enjoy it even more.”

Although both students said their tech campus curriculums had prepared them for the competition, Clouse admitted that her nerves still came out during her event.


“It was a little nerve-wracking because there’s judges standing over you and they’re not critiquing you, but you can tell they kind of want to,” Clouse said. “At the same time, though, I was like, ‘this is what it’s going to be like in the real world’ and I got a little bit of real world experience because I had a model to work on, who was essentially my client.”

After their experiences at Skills USA, both Clouse and Libman say they have learned important lessons that they will take with them when they compete again next year. For Clouse, she said the feedback she got from her judges was invaluable, and while Libman realized the importance of “try[ing] new things because at first, I was super hesitant about going, but at the end, it was worth it.”