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Jessica Nguyen

Jessica Nguyen
A CUT ABOVE THE REST: Stylist doo-ing it differently

Jessica Nguyen, Adult Cosmetology, Class of: 2010
Change is never easy.

But the fact of the matter is that at one time or another, we all make life-changing, career decisions.

For instance, when Jessica Nguyen decided to further her education, she chose career-technical education and the Lorain County JVS over college.

"I gave college a try, but there was a language barrier," said Nguyen, who is Vietnamese. "I struggled with reading materials and had no help tutoring. It wasn't the right choice for me, especially financially."

Nguyen and her fiancé were struggling enough providing for their newborn daughter.

A catalog from the JVS Adult Career Center changed all that - a change that would soon take her from poverty to home ownership.

"I had been out of school for four years and I wasn't doing much with my life," said Nguyen, who enrolled in the JVS Adult Cosmetology Program in 2008. "I was nervous because of my past failures, afraid that I wouldn't follow through."

But Nguyen's instructors helped her exceed the requirements of the two-year program.

"I had so much structure from my teachers, I looked forward to going to school," said Nguyen, who had perfect attendance. "It was a very diverse group of students, very ethnic. We were all there to learn. We respected each other. It made the experience so much better."

Location, schedule and cost were also convenient for Nguyen.

"It was only a 20 minute drive from my home and night classes allowed me to spend my days raising my daughter," Nguyen said. "Best of all, I received a Pell grant, so my education was paid for; everything from tuition to supplies."

Nguyen, from Lorain, found full-time employment with JCPenney at the Midway Mall the day after she graduated in 2010.

"I went looking for jobs, after I perfected my skills by participating in several SkillsUSA competitions, including bringing home a Bronze Medal in the Skills USA National Competition in Kansas City, Missouri, jobs came looking for me!" Nguyen laughed.

"My teachers pushed me, believed in me, encouraged me to compete," she said. "It opened my eyes to being professional, interacting in business with adults, dressing and talking professionally. I received letters from salons and other businesses congratulating me and offering me work."

Nguyen wasted no time establishing herself at Penney's, building her own kiosk, giving away products and offering free services, such as free nail art, to attract new clientele.

"I hustled. I worked hard," she said. "I was bringing in more clientele than some of the stylists that had been there for many years, which attracted the attention of a rival salon."

The owner decided to investigate Nguyen's work in person. "He came in for a haircut," said Nguyen. "We talked and he asked for a manicure. He was very complimentary and invited me to visit his salon."

Nguyen's visit ended with a job offer at Dep Nails and Salon in North Olmsted. "He made me an offer I couldn't refuse," she said.

Nguyen brought change to Dep Nails and Salon, creating a facial room and adding features to the waxing menu. The company's three cosmetologists now also cater to weddings and parties instead of just providing nail/manicure services at the salon.

Two months after being hired, Nguyen was promoted to salon manager.

"He liked me as a stylist," she said. "He especially liked my success at rebooking clients."

"Being professional is the key," Nguyen said.

"I don't ignore anyone. I help everybody," she said. "I'm a good example of what an ideal stylist is. Be clean, be organized, be early for work."

Nguyen also gives back to the JVS through volunteering to judge SkillsUSA competitions.

"It's all very satisfying. It all began with my instructors," she said. "I learned to set goals, both short-term and long term. I wrote them down, put them in black and white, made them real instead of just thinking about them."

Said Nguyen: "I was living in poverty. I went from the poor house to becoming a homeowner. Nothing is handed to you. Everything that I have, I've worked hard for. I put in very long hours."

And her ultimate career goal? Nguyen plans to open her own salon one day. "And the training I received at the JVS Adult Career Center will help me accomplish this goal in my future."
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The Lorain County Joint Vocational School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its programs and activities, and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. © 2022. The Lorain County Joint Vocational School District. All Rights Reserved.