The Sydell & Arnold Miller Family Foundation is investing in the future of professional beauty by funding six cosmetology and esthetic scholarship awards administered by Beauty Changes Lives. The latest recipients are:

Esther Knorpp, @estherknorpp
Aveda Arts & Sciences Institute, Charlotte, NC
Arnold M. Miller Find-A-Way Scholarship: $15,000
Watch Esther Knorpp's video


As a foster child in China, Esther Knorpp did not imagine a future full of possibilities. Adopted at age 9, Knorpp was surprised by a simple question her mother asked: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Knorpp recalls, "I didn’t think about what I could be, because I wasn’t used to people caring about me.”

She remembers that, as a young child, playing with hair was among her happiest moments. “If I could go back and talk to the little girl I was, I’d tell her that she is strong and capable and that life can be so full,” she says.

Expressing her gratitude to the Miller Family Foundation, Knorpp says the scholarship will allow her to apply her passion for hair into a future that transcends anything she imagined as a young child.

Alexia Guerra Chavez, @alexiaguerra
Atelier Esthetique Institute of Esthetics, New York, NY 
The Sydell L. Miller Total Image Beauty Schlarship: $7,500
Watch Alexia Guerra Chavez's video


Immigrating to the U.S. from Guatemala, Alexia Guerra Chavez found that art was a form of escape and communication that transcended language barriers. Unfortunately, other students and even a guidance counselor discouraged her artistic interests.

“I was told by one classmate I’d be homeless if I pursued art as a career," Chavez says. She dismissed the warning and decided to pursue her passion.

Chavez says that building a career in esthetics will allow her to combine her passion for art with an interest in skincare and helping others put their most confident face forward. The bold, colorful make-up looks submitted in her scholarship application evoke her talent for bringing artwork to the canvass of a client’s complexion. 

Averi Mazur, @averimazur
Avenue Five Institute, Austin, TX
The Sydell L. Miller Total Image Beauty Scholarship: $7,500
Watch Averi Mazur's video


A recent college graduate and fitness class instructor, Averi Mazur is an advocate for self-care.

“Whether it is a 50-minute fitness class or a 50-minute facial, I believe in the benefits of self-care,” Mazur says, noting that self-care is also an investment in mental health.

In high school, Mazur blended her interest in makeup and skincare with budding entrepreneurial talent, doing makeup for proms and pageants. She appreciates the power of aesthetics to go beyond the surface and help clients replenish not only their skin but their sense of self. 

Makayla McGary, @thebridetrends
Paul Mitchell The School, Rexburg, ID
Art of Hairdressing Scholarship, $5,000
Watch Makayla McGary's video


Makayla McGary believes that every great haircut begins with a creative vision in mind—whether it’s to honor a client’s face shape, create a dynamic angle or add movement and body. She is just as direct when it comes to her top three reasons for becoming a hairstylist.

“First, I want to help clients look and feel their best," McGary says. "Second, I want to make a difference one great haircut at a time. And third, I want to change the world for the better by being a good and kind hairstylist.”

Rayna Byrd, @rayna.wall_styles
Broken Arrow Beauty College, Tulsa, OK
Art of Hairdressing: $5,000
Watch Rayna Byrd's video


Participating in a recent ministry project that served incarcerated women, Rayna Byrd was overcome by the reactions of women receiving hair and makeup services.

“For many of these women it was their first time sitting in a salon chair,” Byrd says. “It’s not about what these women did in the past, but who they are becoming.”

Rayna views hairstyling as a means to empower women with confidence and help them embrace a new vision of themselves. And while technique is important, Rayna also values listening. “I ask women what they want their hair to look like,” she says, noting that’s the first step to moving toward a new vision.

Sierra DeLeon, @curlgirlmagic
Summit Salon Academy, Tampa, FL
Art of Hair Coloring: $5,000
Watch Sierra DeLeon's video


Sierra DeLeon’s approach to hairstyling is inspired by nature, family and popular culture, but always by her experiences as a “curly girl.” Not content to settle with the basics, DeLeon believes in lifelong education.

“I want to learn what I don’t know—and help others learn to love their own curls,” she says. Upon finishing her program, DeLeon wants to create a safe haven for curly hair types who don’t want to resort to “the big chop.”

“I’ve learned so much, and I’m looking forward to giving back,” she says.

Awards twice a year

The Sydell & Arnold Miller Family Foundation Scholarships are awarded twice annually to students enrolled in an accredited cosmetology or esthetics program. The influence of scholarship recipients is already being seen via their contributions to the industry. Previous awardees have founded salons and have been featured in leading media outlets.

“The generous financial support the Miller Family Foundation provides to next-gen talent is making a difference to the future of professional beauty, one winner at a time,” says Lynelle Lynch, president of Beauty Changes Lives. “We are honored that the Miller family’s generosity is nurturing emerging talent and helping change lives.” More information on upcoming scholarships is available at

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Originally posted on Salon Today