When she was younger, Miss Vanessa Quek was more interested in practical skills than studying.
The 18-year-old Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College East student confessed: "Even in secondary school, I was not the studying type. I was more into pursuits like make-up."
So after her O levels, she took a Nitec course in Beauty and Wellness, and it has paid off handsomely.
Miss Quek and her schoolmate, Miss Eunice Wong, 18, were awarded a gold medal each in the Beauty Therapy category at the 10th ASEAN Skills Competition in Hanoi from Oct 23 to 28.
They were the only gold medallists in the category. The other seven competitors were from Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
The 10th ASEAN Skills Competition aims to boost vocational training and professional skills in young people.
For Miss Quek and Miss Wong, the road to success has been challenging.
Miss Wong told The New Paper that training for the competition started last year.
The girls also had to juggle training with studies and examinations.
She said: "There were times I wanted to give up, but I told myself to keep training for the competition. If I were to quit halfway, it would be wasted. At least if I won a medal, it would be an achievement."
This was their first international competition.
Miss Wong said: "We were very nervous. Some of the participants were more skilled than us."
Miss Quek recounted one challenge during the Body Massage section of the competition.
"We perspired a lot, but we couldn't stop and wipe away our sweat. So we had to continue massaging even though there was sweat in our eyes," she said with a laugh.
Their parents threw their support behind the girls as they prepared for the competition.
Miss Quek said: "My mum knew how hard I worked and trained for this competition, and she is sometimes my model for my make-up practice."
Miss Wong said the training often ate into family time.
"Sometimes, I didn't even have dinner with my family because I was too tired from all the preparation," she said.
The duo are now working as interns at The Retreat Spa at Sheraton Towers Hotel as therapists. Yesterday was their first day at work.
Miss Wong wants to be a make-up artist and open her own spa in future. Miss Quek hopes to front a beauty parlour that will offer makeovers, nail and spa treatments.
Miss Quek said: "I want to teach my customers how to do their own make-up and give skincare lessons."
This article was first published on Nov 4, 2014.
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