“I was a very shy girl who lacked confidence,” recalled Christina Castaneda about her pre-cosmetology days. She decided to enroll at Milan Institute of Cosmetology in La Quinta, California, to overcome her shyness and build up her confidence. Before starting the Cosmetology program, she had recently been laid off from her job. She decided to go back to school because, as a single mother, she wanted to provide a better life for her child, “I wanted to show my daughter that the sky is the limit,” Christina said.

Although she faced many obstacles while enrolled in the program, including a custody battle for her daughter, Christina’s time at Milan Institute of Cosmetology was unforgettable. According to Christina, “My experience at Milan improved my self esteem. If it wasn’t for the love and strength I received from the instructors, students, and staff who helped me along the way, I might have quit school and given up on my dream.” Christina successfully completed her training in about 13 months. “At the time, the program seemed like a very long road, but when I reached the end, I experienced a feeling of pride that I will never forget,” she said.

Since graduating, Christina has become a hairstylist at the Great Clips salon in La Quinta. Regarding her new career, she declared, “I love what I do. My manager is an amazing hairstylist and a role model.” According to Milan’s career services staff, “Christina is currently being considered for a salon manager position with Great Clips. The salon manager has asked us to send them twenty-five more graduates just like her.” Christina has a passion for making people feel good about themselves. She revealed, “The real reward is to see a huge smile when the client gets up from my chair. It’s a very satisfying feeling.”

Christina continues to dream big. She is currently enrolled in school pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration and marketing with a long-term goal of someday owning several salons. When asked what advice she would give to future Milan students and graduates, she recommended, “We all want a better life, whether it is financially or enabling our kids to live more comfortably. No matter what happens in life, keep pushing forward and strive to accomplish your dream. Dreams do come true!”

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