Guest post from Yolanda Barr, a 22-year-old graphic designer from the Bahamas
Earlier this year I became fully certified in Adobe Photoshop then competed in the BahaBeach Adobe Caribbean Championships. I was named the Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) Caribbean Champion and was invited to compete in the ACA World Championship (ACAWC) in Orlando, Florida in August.
Before I left for the competition I participated in a month long boot camp to train for the event. I had a lot of anxiety building up inside but when the time came to leave for the ACAWC I decided I would do the best I could no matter what and realized that being there to compete was an achievement. I was going to the design Olympics!
I remember pulling up to the Hilton Lake Buena Vista Hotel and I was at a loss for words. It was amazing to be in a place with the best of the best under the age of 23. I learned that I was not only representing the Bahamas but the entire Caribbean which was another heart dropping achievement.
The first day was amazing with registration and a welcome reception. I met my fellow ACA competitors, the Microsoft Office Specialist competitors, industry greats, district heads, Adobe managers, Microsoft managers, Certiport employees and more.
The second day was game day – competition day. I was in a design lab for 8 hours with 30 finalists from around the world creating a poster for the International Child Art Foundation. I had trained for the competition but when I started to read the guidelines and instructions I had to trash everything and conceptualize from scratch. I spent four hours trying and deleting designs and four hours creating my final idea. Thankfully I finished in time, and training to keep my composure helped greatly.
The third day was spent at Disneyworld! Day four was the ACA World Championship Awards Ceremony. My teammates and I sat at a round table awaiting the results. My parents, nephews, friends and even my aunt from Guyana came to cheer me on. I crossed my fingers praying for something good. I told myself even if I didn’t get 1st, 2nd or 3rd I would be humbly thankful for a top 10 position. I prayed so hard. 10th place went by, then 9th, 8th, and 7th. I didn’t hear my name until they called 6th place. “Placing 6th is Yolanda Barr representing the Caribbean.” I stood up in excitement I didn’t know how to feel. I began talking to myself! “Did I really beat all of those people…this can’t be real.” As the ceremony came to a close I started to break out in tears as I learned that I was the first person to represent the Caribbean to ever place in the ACA World Championship. That was history.
Some people don’t understand how big this achievement is, but I feel like I finally made something of myself. I have been designing since I was 11 and perfecting my skills since then. I’ve had managers, business owners and executives approach me to stay in contact with them for job opportunities in the future. The competition meant the world to me!