Southeastern student wins $1,000 scholarship for national convention
Bridgette Hayward, of East Bridgewater, a student at Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School, has won a $1,000 scholarship from the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, which will go towards travel expenses to attend the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, from June 23 – 27. Bridgette, a Massachusetts gold medal finalist in the SkillsUSA Job Interview competition, will be attending the national conference with three other Southeastern state gold medalists: Peter Huckins, of Norton, who will be competing in Automotive Technology; Michael Gallagher, of Brockton, who will be competing in Carpentry, and Christopher Glover, of Brockton, who will be competing in Photography.
Bridgette won the scholarship by writing an essay that discussed her financial needs, the challenges of job interviewing, and her positive experience with SkillsUSA. She was one of 50 national recipients who received the financial awards.
The mikeroweWORKS Foundation was created in 2008 by Mike Rowe, host of the Discovery Channel’s series Dirty Jobs. He created his foundation as a way to “give back and challenge the definition of a ‘good’ job.” His foundation has partnered with Skills USA in offering student scholarships.
Bridgette is a cosmetology major, and she will be attending the national convention with her instructor, Cyra Hathaway. She competed against 30 other students in the state competition, which included filling out a generic job application form and going through a mock job interview.
She said she has been working hard to prepare for the national competition and has appreciated all the help she has gotten from her classmates, teachers and her family. She has just finished her junior year at Southeastern, and is a part-time employee at Starbucks, at a Target store.
SkillsUSA is a nonprofit organization that prepares high school and college students for careers in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations. It holds district, state and national competitions each year, which allows students to showcase their technical skills and leadership abilities. Its programs teach leadership citizenship and character development to complement technical skill training. The organization also emphasizes respect for the dignity of work, ethics, workmanship, scholarship and safety.
Bridgette’s winning essay:
Being a teenager is a struggle. So much can be expected and there’s that constant feeling of being rushed to grow up. As soon as I turned 16, I had to find a job. Working was the only way that I could pay for the activities this year, as a junior in high school. After working to get my driver’s license, my expenses nearly skyrocketed. I had to pay for gas, insurance, phone bills, and any other daily expenses that occurred. I became an independent young woman over a few short months. I was forced to rely on myself for just about everything you could think of, and it was an adjustment.
As the second oldest of four children, my family has always expected a lot from me. When my older brother left for Afghanistan at 17 years old, the weight on my shoulders multiplied greatly. The realization that the reason he was leaving for the army was to pay for his own education finally hit me. My family couldn’t afford to put him through school, which meant I was on my own as well. Knowing that I didn’t have the physical abilities or the desire to join the military, I became frantic, looking for any possible way to put myself through school. I researched scholarships and community service projects that applied to my situation, but very few were available. I knew I was going to have to pay for my own education by working in a salon. The economy that we live in isn’t exactly flourishing with job opportunities; however, when there are job openings, I needed to learn which skills would set me apart from the others.
Immediately after this realization, SkillsUSA became much like a blinking neon sign shining right in my eyes. I thought to myself, what skills do I have, that would be valued and sought after by employers? When I was told about the leadership events at the SkillsUSA State Conference, I was immediately interested. Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve been outgoing around my family and friends, but often fell shy around my peers that I didn’t know particularly well. I respond well to adults and have always had an incredible sense of respect for those who had overcome their teenage years.
I believe that what every person needs when applying for a job in the cosmetology field are people skills. Communication with an employer is important, and effective communication is the key to success with clients. That is exactly why I believed that I would be successful in the Job Interview competition of the leadership events. Through this process, I have learned to communicate, while being an attentive listener and a clear speaker. That, alone, makes me a great standing candidate for any job. After weeks and weeks of hard work and gaining support from my school, I succeeded at the state level of SkillsUSA, winning the gold medal in job interview.
Accomplishing something as amazing as winning 1st place out of over 30 other students, I was able to show my family that SkillsUSA was giving me incredible opportunities that could help make my dreams into reality. When my parents found out Nationals were in Kansas City, they felt terrible that they wouldn’t be able to pay for me to go. In my school, there are students from a total of nine communities. So many of my classmates are living on government funding and the school is providing them with free or reduced lunch. My school and its faculty do as much as they possibly can for the students, but sometimes, there isn’t enough funding. For a kid whose parents could never afford extravagant out of state trips, my travel experiences are limited to two states, one of which I lived in. Going to Nationals would allow me to step outside of my comfort zone, broaden my horizons, and to continue to build the skills needed to be a world class worker.
From being an active member in SkillsUSA, my life has been changed. I’m no longer that shy, awkward girl. I’ve grown as a person, a student, and a daughter. I try my hardest at every little thing I do, no matter what struggles may come my way. I’ve made friends that are like family to me now and I’ve got my family behind me with every decision I make. Please consider me as a travel scholarship recipient for MikeRoweWORKS Foundation.