ASU-Newport Graduate Takes Top Honors at National SkillsUSA Competition

MARKED TREE, Ark. (7-2-2014) — Brigitte Schwartz, a May graduate of Arkansas State University-Newport, took top honors in the Esthetics division of the National SkillsUSA competition held last week in Kansas City, Mo.   Schwartz, of Jonesboro, won the gold medal by beating out more than 40 competitors from across the nation who had won their state-level SkillsUSA competitions.

ASUN Instructor of Cosmetology Melinda Odom and Brigitte Schwartz

ASUN Instructor of Cosmetology Melinda Odom and Brigitte Schwartz

Schwartz competed under the instruction of Melinda Odom, ASUN Instructor of Cosmetology on the Marked Tree campus. Brittany Reed of Jonesboro served as the model for Schwartz at the competition, which was held June 23-27.

“I was very surprised,” said Schwartz when asked about winning. “I heard the second and third place winners called out and got nervous. And then they called my name, and so obviously we were very happy and excited. I didn’t really believe it at first, then we all started crying, we were so happy. It was surreal.”

Schwartz’s gold medal marks the second consecutive year that an ASU-Newport student has placed in the top three at the national SkillsUSA competition, but Schwartz is ASUN’s first gold medalist at the event. Last year, ASUN’s Rachel Clements finished third nationally in the Cosmetology competition.

“They called out the third place winner, and then the second place, and at that point I knew,” said Odom. “I just knew we had to be first. I saw the competition and knew in my heart that we had won. All I can remember is jumping up and screaming.”

The competition consisted of two written tests on esthetics and one over general knowledge and procedures.

“We also had to do an oral presentation, and we had to give facials, a facial massage, do daytime makeup and special effects or fantasy makeup,” said Schwartz. “The theme this year was ‘Avatar,’ so we did Avatar makeup for our special effects.”

Schwartz earned her Technical Certificate in Cosmetology from ASUN in May.

Arkansas State University-Newport’s Cosmetology students have competed in SkillsUSA competitions for 27 consecutive years. The ASUN Cosmetology program is located on the Marked Tree campus, and applications for the January 2015 class are currently being accepted. To begin the application process, call the ASUN Marked Tree campus at 870-358-2117.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA helps each student excel, and is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including health occupations.

The SkillsUSA Championships are considered the largest single day of corporate volunteerism in America, and valued at $36 million in industry support of donated time, equipment, cash and material. All contests are run and judged by industry leaders using industry standards for employment. Over 1,100 industry judges will participate this year, with more than 6,000 students from every state and three territories competing in 98 contests in technical, skilled, health and service occupations.