Tell us about yourself and what it was like to be a part of the West-MEC Cosmetology program.
My name is Megan McCrohan and I just completed the West-MEC Cosmetology program. I started the program during my junior year of high
school and graduated both high school and Cosmetology at the same time. The West-MEC Cosmetology program was a great experience because it taught me everything I needed to know about getting started in the cosmetology industry. For example, we began the program learning basic hair-cutting techniques. This was a particular favorite of mine because I took to the skill so easily. Other skills, such as color applications and perms, took practice but were skills I enjoyed as the training progressed into more advanced and fun techniques. Being a part of this industry really gives you the opportunity to be creative and try out different things. The time I spent on the “clinic” or salon floor was my favorite because we got to a) work on actual clients and b) experiment on our mannequins. The cosmetology world can be such an intricate, creative and fun profession if it is something you aspire to become involved in as a working adult. The program provides students with the basics and then encourages students to expand and grow into whatever they want to be as a stylist.
You were home schooled and a West-MEC student, right? What was that like and did it bring about any challenges, frustrations, benefits,
I was homeschooled before I started the West-MEC program. I started my junior year at Peoria High School at the same time as my Cosmetology program. Boy, was that a culture shock! It was like stepping into a completely foreign world. I used to consider myself a mega-introvert, so you can imagine how hard it was for me to put myself out there on the first day of two new schools on the same day. I suppose the biggest challenge going from homeschool to public school/West-MEC was learning how to handle people. In cosmetology, a huge part of the job is customer service, so it was super important for me to know how to talk and interact with people from all walks of life. I was painfully shy and awkward for the first few months, but I managed to grow out of it. (To a point… Some of my friends beg to differ!) It was actually a great advantage in the long run to be thrust into a completely new world of public school and a Career and Technical Education (CTE) training program. I learned quickly how to stand up for myself and make my ideas and/or opinions known. Not in a rude way, obviously, but it’s just important to have your own voice and make it heard.
Share with us any opportunities/competitions/speaking engagements/etc. you participated in while in the program. What did you learn from them?
I was a part of the student council at the Cutting Edge Style Academy, West-MEC and Maricopa Skill Center’s cosmetology school. At the last minute, I was elected treasurer. Literally, as elections were starting, my friends convinced me to put my name down on the ballot as a last-minute entrant. I never dreamed I would get the position. Eventually, I moved up to president. I honestly loved being StuCo President (and not for the power, if that’s what you were thinking). Being president really brought out strong, leadership qualities I didn’t know I had. I found that I really loved heading projects or events and just being someone that people knew they could go to if they had questions or concerns. You really learn how to be reliable and commit to doing what you say you’re going to do. People really notice your character when you’re in a position to lead, so you have to make sure you try to always be fair and keep things as even as possible. Not everyone is going to like you because of that, but you really have to learn how to deal with that and make the best of it. Overall, I loved it.
Another opportunity I had was being chosen as a speaker for West-MEC’s annual end-of-the-year Recognition Ceremony. The ceremony celebrates the accomplishments of students who successfully complete their central programs. And I’m not just talking about cosmetology; I’m talking about all of the West-MEC Central Programs. It was terrifying, to say the least. Public speaking is not really a strong suit for me. A couple of teachers from my session encouraged me to submit the application, saying I would be great for it. I begrudgingly did it, not really expecting to be chosen. But of course, I was. That being said, it was one of the best things I ever made myself do. I was terrified up on that stage, giving my opening student address, but I had never felt stronger. I made it through all without collapsing (a miracle, truly) and I walked back feeling invigorated. It’s really true what they tell you about how you’ll never grow if you don’t push yourself… I grew a lot from that experience and I am so glad I pushed myself completely out of my comfort zone and just did it!
When you are not at school, what do you enjoy doing?
I really enjoy doing a lot of creative things. I love to draw, paint,write, read– stuff like that. I’m also involved in my church – my
religion is very important to me! Really, I just like hanging out with friends, doing whatever comes to mind. We seem to get up to the most
fun while simply going out to dinner together and what not. My friends mean a lot to me, so any time I can spend with them is perfect.
What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing the West-MEC Cosmetology Program?
Stay diligent. There is a lot of time after you learn the basics where YOU are in charge of what you learn. Practicing the same thing over and over again isn’t useless – there is a lot you can learn just from repetition! Ask questions for everything. That’s what the teachers are there for and a lot of them have very useful information they are willing to give you, if you ask. Make the best of every situation you are put in. It’s not always going to be exciting or fast-paced. There are times where it will be slow, and it will seem like the day will take forever to get through, but there is always something you can be practicing or making the best of. And finally, enjoy the time you have in school! Really, you will come to miss it when it’s gone, so appreciate it when you have it.