HOT SPRINGS - After overcoming adversity, a high school senior was one of a few chosen to represent her school during this year's SkillsUSA competition.
Sierra Rose Villalvazo, 18, of Mountain Home did not know how
to use a torch or even read a tape measure when she first enrolled in welding courses.
"I took a class I knew nothing about because I wanted to be able to create anything I could imagine," Villalvazo said.
Villalvazo credits her welding instructor for her confidence in learning these new skills. “It was my instructor that made me truly believe in myself,” Villalvazo said. “Through his patience and willingness to teach me, I learned that there was nothing I couldn’t do if I just applied myself. I was determined to push myself to become better every day.”
Last year, Villalvazo broke both of her legs during an accident. She was only in her first year of welding and was concerned that this accident could be the end of her dream of becoming a welder. “All I could think about was, ‘Will I be able to weld again?’” Villalvazo said.
She spent 27 days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and had four reconstructive surgeries to repair her legs. After five months of rehabilitation, she regained enough muscle strength to be able to return to welding in boots and on crutches. It was later that school year that she was chosen to compete.
“Throughout Rose’s process she has shown so much heart and determination for her love of welding,” her welding instructor Rick Hastings said. “She shows great morals and values with her excellent work ethic and her attentiveness to her learning process.”
Villalvazo will attend Arkansas State University-Mountain Home, where Hastings teaches, to pursue a degree in the welding program.
“I am elated for Rose’s future in the welding industry as she continues to push through the minority and rises to the task set before her,” Hastings said.
Villalvazo did not win at SkillsUSA; however, she is proud of the progress she has made in the pursuit of her dream and overcoming the challenges she has faced. “What matters the most is that I’ve come a long way from where I began,” Villalvazo said.
(Photo: Rose Villalvazo was one of few chosen to compete in this year's SkillsUSA competition after enduring multiple reconstructive surgeries in both legs.)