Since fall of 2020, Mesa Community College has been offering an associate in applied science degree in beauty and wellness for hair and beauty artists looking to succeed in today’s industry.
MCC has partnered with well respected names in the beauty industry such as the one of the world’s current largest cosmetics companies, L’Oréal, and longtime Arizona beauty salon, Rolfs, to deliver an online cohort experience for students.
“We are the first one of a kind program that is actually empowering our beauty professionals. Most of our beauty professionals are underrepresented populations of students. They got women, students of color, the LGBTQ+ community, we have students that are first generation, and then we have students that are poverty. So we are working to create intelligent beauty and drive change,” said Joy Henry, career navigator for the beauty and wellness program, entrepreneurial studies, and fashion design.
Graduate Gisella Puchi working at Rolf’s salon. (Photo provided by Joy Henry)
The CEO of Rolfs Global Institute, Francis Tesmer, works closely with the program’s lead cohort to ensure one on one professional and academic development for each beauty student.
According to Henry, students coming in for the cohort experience have classes and professors that are handpicked for their field.
The professors in the program work to create and cater their course to fit with the beauty professional coming to learn, added Henry.
Licensed beauty professionals looking to work towards their associates degree are acknowledged for their experience by receiving college credit at no cost to their 60-68 credit degree, mentioned Henry.
Those with a cosmetology license get 30 credits, hair stylist and barbers get 24 credits, and estheticians receive 12 credits, explained Henry.
The curriculum is designed to go straight into Arizona State University’s new two year bachelor’s degree once completing MCC’s one year associate’s degree.
According to Henry, although the curriculum is fully online, the program ensures that all students get the help they need to make it an engaging learning experience.
“We are all about connecting especially with this population of students because they tend to be very visual learners in that industry. So each one of our professors, even though we’re fully online, we have office hours, we do pop up sessions, we do live engagement with our students. Actually I’m doing an end of the semester for our cohort number six making it through their first semester so I’m doing a fully online virtual celebratory experience for them so they can come together and really honor each other,” said Henry
Henry also talked about her podcast, “Joycast”, where students can always tune in to listen to the lecture wherever they are.
There are also embedded math tutors within the program that meet with students virtually every week for those who need extra help, explained Henry.
According to Henry, the program ensures students have access to everything they need, especially connections with industry professionals.
Rolfs beauty salon allows students to come in and get the professional development they need, as well as helping students get paid as an employee while attending school.
Once students graduate, Rolfs meets with them for business opportunities and helps build proposals. Seed money is also available for students looking to build their careers for the future.
The program is currently onboarding its seventh cohort, and Henry described it as the longest cohort the program has had. What started with a cohort of 20 has now developed into 80 students for the spring semester.
There are many exciting developments that will be announced soon, such as mentions of a new degree, continuations with industry partners, and opportunities for students to receive a beauty license, according to Henry.
Henry described how she anticipates the program being one of the larger programs on campus in the next five to seven years.