From L to R: Three Señoritas: Crystal Aguilar Gonzalez, Stephanie Ramos Cabrera and Briana Lopez. Photo courtesy of Providence Career and Technical Academy.
At the beginning of each school year, Providence Career and Technical Academy SkillsUSA advisor and cosmetology instructor Rahsaan Gomes-McCreary asks her students what competitions and activities they’d like to participate in. For the 2022-23 school year, sophomores Stephanie Ramos Cabrera, Crystal Aguilar Gonzalez and Briana Lopez chose the SkillsUSA Community Service competition. Strangers at first, the trio soon became friends while successfully completing five community service projects before the year was out. They also came up with an unofficial name for their partnership: “The Three Señoritas.”
Gomes-McCreary explains: “They decided their team’s name would be the ‘Three Señoritas,’ because the cosmetology students and teachers call everyone who enters the salon by either ‘señorita’ or ‘señor’ to be inclusive to all and help erase stereotypes based on skin color or heritage.”
The trio leveraged the PCTA’s monthly “Salon Saturdays” program to gain community support for their projects. On Salon Saturdays, area residents receive hair styling from the cosmetology students at a discounted price. It’s a popular program that gave the students an easy way to spread the word organically about their service projects.
One project involved a contest among different trade programs at PCTA that encouraged student attendance. Prizes and weekly incentives were involved, and when the contest was over, the “Three Señoritas” reported a 99% increase in the number of students who attended school regularly and on time from the beginning of the year.
When it was discovered that one of the reasons some students didn’t want to return to school was because they didn’t have new clothes to wear, the Three Señoritas, in coordination with school nurse Victoria Silva, started a clothes drive. The team got the whole school involved, as well as others from the community who visited their Salon Saturdays program. “We gave $5 off of an already discounted price if they brought in clothing or a gift card,” says Gomes-McCreary. “The team organized the clothes, and students came to ‘shop’ by getting a pass to see the nurse. After everyone had a chance to shop, we had to stop because we were running out of storage space.”
Other projects included a successful blood drive, a baby shower for young pregnant women in the foster care system, and the collection of hundreds of toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste to benefit students in need at a local daycare center.
“It was so nice to be able to be a part of so many projects,” says Cabrera. “We were able to help others and that’s important.”
“Helping others makes me feel good,” Gonzalez adds. “Being part of the projects made me feel like I’m part of a change and improvement in the community,” says Lopez.
The difference-making “Three Señoritas” chronicled their service efforts for the year and submitted them to the SkillsUSA Rhode Island State Leadership & Skills Conference. The result? A gold medal in the Community Service competition and a trip to Atlanta to compete in the SkillsUSA Championships in June. The result there? A national gold medal for the team!
“These students became so involved with these projects, and they applied their SkillsUSA Framework skills with each of them,” says Gomes-McCreary. “SkillsUSA changes lives,” she adds, “and many lives were changed through these students’ community service projects — including their own.”