By Daniel Johnson, Investigative Reporter | Photos By Daniel Johnson
Learning in an environment that actually allows a student the ability to gauge their own progress on real clients for school credit is something that is distinctive to the Cosmetology program at the South Valley CNM campus, said Cosmetology major, Valerie Archibeque.
Archibeque said students learn to do all kinds of cool stuff at the campus on 5816 Isleta Blvd. SE, such as manicures, pedicures, acrylic nails, haircuts, and hair coloring, but being able to do those things on real people is what makes the learning process easier.
“It is awesome, because coming to this class is not like coming to school at all—I get to do what I love all day, every day,” Archibeque said.
The instructors provide the students with information about the industry but there are also guest speakers who come and educate the students as well, she said.
“We invite the public to come to the salon and receive any of the treatments that are offered,” Archibeque said.
The process is first come first serve and offered to anybody that shows up, she said.
If a person has a student who they prefer they can request that student to perform the services, she said.
Some services require a test for possible allergic reactions, but if a person is cleared then they can choose from a wide variety of what they have to offer, she said.
The program has been around for a long time Archibeque said, but that not a lot of people know about the services that they provide on the campus.
“Everybody here is good at what they do and enjoy being able to interact with people, so everyone should come down and try us out at least once,” Archibeque said.
Cosmetology Instructional Technician, Yolanda Santos said all of the students deal with clients one-on-one, so they are able to build their communication skills, as well as working on the business side of their learning.
Santos said the salon is fully equipped for 17 clients for hair, and 17 clients for nails, but the amount of students doing these procedures differs depending on the time of day.
All of the equipment that is used is up to date and sanitary, she said.
Prices for services can range anywhere from free for a manicure, $5 deep conditioning, or $40 for all over hair coloring lightener and tone being the most expensive, she said.
“Even though $40 seems like a lot, it is actually the cheapest price for that service you will find anywhere in town,” Santos said.
All products used in the salon are professional grade style items, and the salon also has a fully operational facial room that students can utilize to provide client services, she said.
Customer service is another aspect that students learn, but is a skill that is mostly learned with hands on experience, she said.
Students need to learn to deal with all kinds of people because there is always a chance that they will get someone who is rude or difficult to deal with sometime in their careers, she said.
“Thankfully in the years that I have worked here, we have only had to throw out one client for being rude and mean,” Santos said.
Cosmetology Instructional Technician, Babette Harmon said students come in with an idea of wanting to create; but with the help of instructors, as well as the curriculum, students learn to visualize and determine what is needed to make these creations possible.
Learning basic skills is what allows students the ability to pass the state board test, but she said by the time they graduate the program she would like to see students be equipped with advanced skills that are better than what the state requires.
“The cosmetology program might seem short because it is separated in to just four terms, but students have to work their butts off and be dedicated to do well in these classes,” she said.
Harmon said the cosmetology students have a rigorous class schedule in that time where they attend class four days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., so that students can also get used to being on their feet and working for an eight hour workday.
The first term is almost all bookwork and basic skills, and these newer students only work on mannequins and one another in the beginning, she said.
Second term students start to work on clients and by the fourth term students should have repeat clients that they have established a working relationship with over those three terms, she said.
Twice a year the beginning class opens to 16 students for a total of 32 new students a year, but when the class goes to graduation about 98 percent of those students graduate, she said.
Since the class size is so small the program can be difficult to get into sometimes, she said.
“We fill up fast every semester— it seems like as soon as registration starts, we have our classes full on the first day,” Harmon said.
Prerequisites for cosmetology are general education classes, but upon entering the first term the students study safety and sanitation extensively, she said.
“Our safety and sanitation is all based on running a clean and healthy salon,” Harmon said.
When the students start the first term; they go for five weeks of safety and sanitation, five weeks of hair cutting, five weeks of color, and so on until graduation, she said.
The mid-term for the class consists of students having to take a mannequin and make it blend with nature in all aspects of hair and makeup, she said.
“We are very proud of the students and the work that they do,” Harmon said.
For more information on the services provided by cosmetology students at 5816 Isleta Blvd. SE, call 224-5034.