By Joey Gomez
McALLEN, TEXAS – Yazmin Sandoval remembers the small twist of fate that she said changed her life forever, making her one among 15 students that comprised the first graduating class from the new South Texas College Cosmetology Operator Certificate, which began in the spring.
Looking to move beyond her initial job as a restaurant server, which she has held since 2017, Sandoval said it was by chance that a representative from STC’s Admissions office walked in one day while she was working and informed her about a new program for cosmetologists starting at the college.
It was early 2023 and Sandoval said she had just graduated from STC in December, receiving an associate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, but was looking for the next step in her educational journey while balancing a job that had her working from early mornings and to late at night.
She didn’t know at the time, but Sandoval would eventually be part of STC history, becoming part of the first class of licensed cosmetologists from the college.
“I remember doubting it was for me, but I was looking for a better opportunity for myself, so I took a leap of faith and never looked back. I believe my life has been forever changed,” Sandoval said. “I have come a long way over these last nine months in the program.”
The Cosmetology graduate ceremony was the culmination of a top priority by STC President Ricardo J. Solis, Ph.D., who championed the start of the program when he began at the college in 2021.
Solis was in attendance along with college administrators, faculty and family members to commemorate the event with students, their family and friends.
“Being here with all the family members; husbands, wives and parents I share with all of you, your pride in this achievement,” Solis told attendees at the ceremony. “You students have received the best education with the best programs to meet your needs and help you continue with your dreams.”
STC’s Cosmetology program began in spring 2023 in order to create skilled professionals entering the beauty industry at half the cost of traditional programs in the region.
The Cosmetology Operators Certificate, which can be completed in two semesters, includes theory, knowledge and hands-on training so students are prepared for state written and practical exams for licensure.
Along with skills and safe application methods, students master the technical, professional and soft skills through courses in Fundamentals of Cosmetology, Creative Artistry of Hair, Principles of Skin and Nails, Safety and Sanitation.
Career options for students finishing the program include positions as entry-level stylists, booth rental or contractor; make-up artist; theatre makeup or artist for special occasions; esthetician specializing in skin care facial treatments; or nail technicians specializing in manicure, pedicure and nail enhancement.
“I am so grateful to be a part of this educational experience, leading our first cohort of cosmetology students, which allowed me the opportunity to sculpt and prepare future beauty professional for a successful career,” said Instructor of Cosmetology Carla Balleza. “It was also so exciting to see the first cosmetology class develop and hone their skills and become confident.”
Currently a library services technician at STC’s Mid-Valley campus, Karina Hernandez said she has worked at the college for over a decade and applied to the program despite having no prior knowledge of Cosmetology apart from personal applications.
Hernandez said she was looking for an outlet that would enable her to get out of her comfort zone and expand her knowledge.
“I started with a complete blank slate, without much knowledge of cosmetology aside from what I already knew personally, applying my own makeup and hair,” Hernandez said. “I want to tell everyone who has even a passing interest to give this a shot, because this has turned out to be a wonderful experience with wonderful people and limitless potential to grow.”
For more information about STC’s Cosmetology program visit www.southtexascollege.edu/academics/cosmetology/.