Van Tech Secondary's Hairdressing student Vya Bolislis won gold and Tereeza Matti won silver at the 2015 BC Skills. They competed in three categories: Ladies Creative, Ladies Hair by Night, and Men's Trend Cut. These categories tested their cutting, colouring, and styling techniques.
"This is only the second time Van Tech's Hairdressing won the BC Skills. The first time was in 2006, so it's a big deal to have Van Tech represent British Columbia at the Canadian Skills Competition next month in Saskatchewan," says Van Tech teacher Malani de Leon. "On a personal level, this win confirms their hard work is paying off. Both Tereeza and Vya left David Thompson Secondary in their final year to attend the Ace It Hairdressing program at Van Tech."
Leon says both students made big sacrifices when they left their home schools to attend Van Tech. To attend the ACE IT course, Matti commutes three hours each day. Meanwhile Bolislis says it's the disconnection from her friends that's the biggest sacrifice. However both students admit they wouldn't do it any other way.
"This is a great opportunity. I get to study hair for free and I get to do it while I'm still in high school," says Bolislis.
Leon says that for many students the trades programs in public schools give them a chance to pursue a career that would otherwise be financially out of reach.
"This is extremely important for students such as Vya and Tereeza. Both girls are recent immigrants. Tereeza left Iraq during the war and lived in Syria for four years prior to being admitted to Canada. Vya, on the other hand, lived without her mother in the Philippines for eight years," she says.
Leon says Bolislis and her brother only recently reunited with their mother in 2011 after she raised enough money working as a nanny to come to Canada. Besides going to school full time, both girls hold a part time job to help provide for their families.
To learn more about the Van Tech Hair Design program, follow them on Instagram.