Hersey native competes at WorldSkills in Brazil, earns honor

BIG RAPIDS —There were joy, tears, stress and excitement, among other things, when Lauryn Erickson traveled to Brazil earlier this month for an international hairstyling competition.

Erickson, of Hersey, is a graduate of the Mecosta-Osceola Career Center cosmetology program. She won the SkillsUSA national competition in 2014, and was selected in February to represent the U.S. at WorldSkills in the hairstyling division. WorldSkills is an international competition held every two years at locations around the world, where participants from across the globe test their skills in varying categories.

For Erickson, being surrounded by hundreds of people around her age from 59 other countries was an amazing experience. WorldSkills was about much more than competing, she explained.

“A friend from my team posted on Facebook about how when we were on the way to WorldSkills we thought it was a competition, but when we got there we realized it was more like a celebration,” Erickson said. “I totally agree with that. Everyone there knows they are the best in their country at something and it’s just cool to showcase our talents.”

Throughout the event, Erickson was tasked with styling, cutting and coloring hair on male and female mannequins.

In the end, Erickson placed 21st out of 32 stylists in the competition. Overall, Erickson was proud of how she finished at WorldSkills, especially after overcoming a few obstacles.

After eating some pasta, which unbeknownst to Erickson contained nuts, she suffered a severe allergic reaction, requiring IV medication.

“I was up until 12:30 a.m. the night before competition, but still got my butt up to compete. I think that showed a lot of determination,” she said. “I was going to compete no matter what because it was so important to me.”

Another mishap occurred when her clippers quit working just before one of her style sessions. She was able to use a borrowed set, but they felt completely different than the ones she’d practiced with for five months leading up to WorldSkills..

“We got it figured out, had a couple tears, but I got over it pretty quick,” she said. “I’m proud of how I did.”

While she may not have placed as highly as she’d hoped, Erickson was rewarded for her work and was awarded “Best of Nation” by the director of SkillsUSA and other team leaders. The award is given to one competitor in each country’s team.

“I received the award because of my perseverance and who I was as a competitor rather than how I placed,” she explained. “They saw that drive in me.”

Additional competitions may be in Erickson’s future, but right now she’s a little burnt out and hopes to keep her clippers busy while working at The STudio in Big Rapids.

“I just want to focus on my clients and career at the salon and see where it takes me,” she said. “I would love to compete again, but probably not anytime very soon.”