WARSAW — Since August 2016, juniors and seniors from Kosciusko County high schools have been taking advantage of a new, two-year cosmetology program at Inspire College of Cosmetology, 3171 E. Center St., Warsaw, the result of a partnership between Inspire and the Warsaw Area Career Center.
“We’d been receiving requests from students for a cosmetology program for many, many years,” explained Ronna Kawsky, WACC director, “We were waiting for the right opportunity to form a partnership.”
That opportunity was presented by Nicole Lawrence, owner and educator at Inspire. She and Kawsky discussed the program for a year and a half before Lawrence opened the school in May 2016. “The timing was right … We just meshed,” she said.
Inspire College is the realization of a dream Lawrence has had since her own days at cosmetology school, 11 years ago. She was dissatisfied with instruction that “only gave you the basics” before sending stylists out to fend for themselves. Lawrence, who is also a licensed instructor, explained, “I want salon owners asking for our next grad.”
Inspire instruction covers advanced make-up, color, cutting, texturizing as well as the economics of the business. “We teach them how to market themselves,” stated Lawrence. “There’s more than working behind the chair.” Graduates interested in sales can combine it with a knowledge of cosmetics. There are also jobs working for companies, in education and “platform artistry” — audience demonstrations.
Students can also learn about skin care, a “billion dollar industry,” according to Lawrence, and a market her students can tap in to.
The students reflect her enthusiasm. Liz Armstrong, a senior at Warsaw Community High School, is happy to be getting half of her schooling paid for. “I really like hair and makeup,” she commented, “all the girly stuff.” Of course, this “girly stuff” includes chemistry, anatomy, physiology, color theory and more, all covered in a comprehensive text book.
Warsaw junior Betzy Navarro called the program “a great opportunity … I love learning new things and it fits in with my future career interests.”
Next year, the number of students may double as another high school cohort is added. With a full complement of students, juniors will typically spend four hours at Inspire in the morning, followed in the afternoon by seniors, or other second-year students.
After gaining 250 hours, some students will begin working at Inspire’s salon, where members of the community can have their hair and nails done at reduced price by trainees, who use the opportunity to work on their speed. Services offered by the salon include cuts, coloring, texture — perms, for example — and nail services such as manicures, pedicures and artificial nails. “We appreciate community support,” said Lawrence.
“Not everybody is made for college,” Lawrence asserted. Many of her students will be “career ready” when they graduate from high school. “That’s an awesome thing for our community,” Kawsky stated. “We’re able to make a lot of dreams come true.”
“I’ve enjoyed it even more than I thought,” Lawrence admitted. Already, she has seen lives transformed by the program, as students who may have felt adrift in the traditional system find purpose and direction. The reality, she said, has proven to be “bigger than my dream.”
For more information on the cosmetology program, call the Warsaw Area Career Center, (574) 371-5074 or Inspire College of Cosmetology, (574) 267-2245.