Beauty Changes Lives: Alvina Chulanon's Story
The American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS) is a network of more than 900 schools dedicated to providing excellence in beauty education, and to champion a message of “Beauty Changes Lives.” Discover how beauty changed the life of Alvina Chulanon, who entered Pivot Point International Academies’ Anything But Hair contest and finally pursued her dream of a career in beauty. Share your own journey with Editor Alison Shipley, [email protected] story could appear here!
By: Alvina Chulanon
I like to think of myself as the “Jill of all trades.” I’m a mother, wife, daughter, sister, performer (singing in the shower and the karaoke clubs count, right?), economist and, now, a cosmetologist in training.
I graduated from University of Illinois at Chicago with a degree in Economics. Straight out of college I began my work with the federal government—dealing with statistics for workers who are injured or die while on the job. I knew the work I did was very important but, after 12 years, the cycle has run its course. I needed a change.
My father was a doctor and my mother was a nurse—I had always been interested in beauty but had been lead away from it because of what my parents wanted me to be and what I thought I needed to be for my family.
My first daughter was born premature and I was on bed rest for four months with my second pregnancy because doctors feared she would be born earlier than my first. At the same time my mother was starting the beginnings of her battle with cancer, shortly after we lost our home and lived in a hotel months. My mother has since passed and, in her passing, has given me strength to get my life back on track.
Education has always been very important in my life and has always been heavily emphasized to me from a very young age. The idea of being able to channel my creative energy into something that can be seen and elicit an emotion is very exciting. As a frequent client to a number of spas and salons, I have always been intrigued. The thought of going to beauty school seemed like that would only happen in a far off parallel universe. I didn’t know where to start, where I would get the money, or how I would manage to go to school, keep a full-time job, or wear all my hats.
I decided to do my research—as I perused the Pivot Point website, I stumbled upon the Anything But Hair contest they were running—to make an original creation using anything but hair on a head form. I whipped out my highlighter and read all the rules, terms and conditions: the grand prize was a full scholarship for the cosmetology program.
For days, thoughts were running through my mind 100 miles per second—could I do this? Yes. Should I do this? Yes. Will I win? I did.
The rest is history. I began classes in May 2012 and I have since learned so much. The major thing I have learned is that the beauty industry is truly a service oriented industry. The experience I have dealing with different people has opened my eyes to customer service and what it truly means. Everyone wants to feel special, even if only for a little bit.
As a cosmetologist it will be my job to make that happen from start to finish. This is where my different “Jill of Trades” hats come in handy. It’s not just about the technical aspect of getting the job done, but about all those “soft skills” that keep people wanting to come back to you and wanting to tell other people to work with you. Being able to be a good listener, being able to anticipate needs, and being able to be whoever that person needs you to be.
With each passing day, my passion for what is out when I’m done with my classes seems infinite. I could be working in a salon, a platform artist, educator, researcher—I don’t want to limit myself right now. There are so many different directions I can take but, at the core of my direction, is the hope to inspire others to follow their passions. It’s never too late to change your life’s course and to make your dreams your reality.