She helps others look or feel good

Ms Vanessa Quek (photo), 19, never imagined that her childhood hobby of painting nails would put her on a world stage.

She will be up against 25 beauty therapy contestants at the WorldSkills competition next month.

They will need to finish six tasks, such as giving a model a 11/2- hour lomi lomi massage and putting on evening makeup.

The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) student, who is in its Higher Nitec course in beauty and spa management, hopes to win a medal. Two of the three ITE competitors in 2011 and 2013 won gold in the same category.

"It's quite stressful, but since I've been chosen, I'm motivated to do my best and train harder," said Ms Quek, an only child. Her father is a taxi driver and her mother an administrative worker.

She first started training for WorldSkills Singapore - the local edition of the contest - in 2013, and emerged top in her field. She was also one of two Singaporeans who won gold in beauty therapy at last year's Asean WorldSkills contest.

For the past two years, she has been spending six to nine hours a day training with her coaches, practising a range of skills from body scrubs to massaging and pedicures.

She said: "It's quite tiring and I still have to complete assignments after training, but I enjoy making people look good because it makes them happy.

"I want to take part in this competition because it's challenging and I want to do something special."

Ms Judith Chng, course manager of ITE's beauty and spa management department, said Ms Quek "knows what she wants and she has a fighting spirit, which is what we need in the competition".

Amelia Teng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2015, with the headline 'She helps others look or feel good'. Print Edition | Subscribe