April Keck

gold medal winner, Skills USA state competition, cosmetology

Your team from Tennessee Technology Center won an award for the most medals at the state Skills USA competition—was it more like Jeopardy or Top Chef?

It's more hands on—you have to cut the hair and style it, not just answer questions. But we do take the written test, too, so it really covers both angles.

Other students won in categories like "collision repair" and "nursing." Do you play as a team?

Not really. We more travel together and we were definitely concerned for one another. When they were handing out the awards, we were each cheering and hoping for each other to get a medal.

You leave for the nationals in Kansas City on June 23. What will that be like?

What will happen is, hopefully, I'll complete three haircuts and one long hair design. On the haircuts, you get a picture and try to copy the picture in the best way you can.

Are you working on real people?

No, just on mannequins.

Is there any time to see the sights?

Yes, that was the great thing about going to the state tournament in Chattanooga. We got to tour around and spend time getting to know the team and the instructors better. We'll have time for ourselves in Kansas City, too.

How long have you been studying cosmetology?

You have to have 1,500 hours for a license, and they say it's about a 15-16 month program usually—if you miss a day, that adds to the time. I've been at this location since June, but I came with some cosmetology hours from Gibbs High School, too.

Will the gold medal help when you look for a job?

Yes, that's one of the reasons I wanted to do this. It is a good experience, but I think having the award will look good on a resume.

Are you nervous about nationals?

Very. I'm just hoping to do my best. That's all I'm really asking for.