July 17, 2021

Choice Scholarship: Peter Smagacz

Makeup brushes

At Don Roberts School of Hair Design, our mission is simple; quality education, practice, state exams, and employment. Our privately funded Choice Scholarship is just as simple; show up, work hard and (of course) state exams, and employment. We are proud to congratulate Peter, one of our recent graduates and Choice Scholarship recipients who received the full award of our resident scholarship by maintaining a 90% or above in attendance, academics, and supervised service performed.

Peter Smagacz is a licensed esthetician and makeup artist who still chooses to go above and beyond professional expectations with love and hustle. We recently visited him at Jay Marie Salon & Spa (read more about our visit here)  to award him with his last scholarship installment payment and to reflect on his educational experience. 

Question (Q): Tell us about you! 

Answer (A): Hello, my name is Peter Smagacz. I graduated from the Don Roberts Esthetics Program in 2020, and I am currently a licensed esthetician and makeup artist at Jay Marie Salon & Spa in Schererville, Indiana. Prior to finding a home in the beauty industry, I explored multiple disciplines and am happy to have finally ended my search with a career in esthetics.

Makeup artist working with a client

Peter, licensed esthetician, performing a makeup application. (quite beautifully too)

Q: Why did you choose Don Roberts School of Hair Design for your licensing education program? 

A: I first looked into Don Roberts for my licensing program due to personally knowing successful alumni who attended the school and are now thriving within the industry. After visiting the school and discussing the logistics with the admissions staff, I found that the program offered me enough flexibility with finances and schedule to continue working while obtaining my license in a timely manner. This all allowed for a thorough education while providing the flexibility to ensure a smooth transition into a new career.

Q: How prepared did you feel for your exams?

A: I felt very prepared for my exams. I took my practical and written licensing exams directly after finishing school. I passed both with high marks and without any difficulty.

Q: How prepared do you feel, as a newly licensed professional? 

A: I also felt very prepared to enter the field at an established, full-service salon. My experiences in school gave me all the foundations I needed to be able to start training and offering services as a well-educated, licensed professional. Theoretical knowledge gained at Don Roberts can transfer to any position. Whether that’s based on skincare ingredients, massage protocol, or retail philosophy, Don Roberts can give you the knowledge you need.

Q: What advice would you give to prospective or new students at Don Roberts School of Hair Design? 

A: I would tell any prospective/new students at Don Roberts School of Hair Design to keep an open mind, experiment as much as possible, and learn across as many different teachers and disciplines as you can. If you’re in the cosmetology program, try to learn a few things about esthetics or nail technology. If you’re an esthetician, learn a few cosmetology or nail tech theory fundamentals. Whether in school or career, you will encounter questions that build on these themes. The foundations of hair, skin, and nails are helpful to all professionals in the beauty industry, not just those who specialize in each category.

For example, as an esthetician, chemical hair texture and hair color application techniques may not seem helpful in school. However, if you want to learn about lash tints, brow lamination, henna, etc. at a later date, a solid understanding of how and why hair colors and chemicals work are helpful tools to already have in your knowledge bank.

Q: Tell us about your journey with Don Roberts School of Hair Design; The good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. 

 A: The good:

Some of my favorite memories at Don Roberts were being able to give members of my family and friends their first beauty experience. I loved seeing how happy and confident they felt when they left. Being able to share your energy to help someone feel better about themselves, especially when it’s a loved one, is a true gift.

The bad:

Beauty school was also definitely a huge ego check in a lot of ways I didn’t expect. I came into the program thinking I already had a solid foundation of knowledge about the beauty industry and its inner workings, but I soon came to see that not all my previous knowledge was correct or even helpful. It was hard to not be the best at something right away.

I struggled to understand some concepts or movements and had to practice continuously. Having to go back and slow down, practice, rework things, and then slowly move forward is a humbling process. It doesn’t feel good at the moment but is necessary for professional and personal growth in this industry and beyond.

The ugly:

Beauty school, regardless of the program, can be a very challenging time in a person’s life. It’s a time of transition, hard work, financial struggle, and personal growth. It’s a reflective time that makes you question your dedication, your talents, and where you fit into the industry. Sometimes, the things I was most excited about in the craft were not actually fun to perform.

Some things I dreaded were actually great, but could I do them long-term? It made me ask myself a lot of questions. Where did I see myself in life? How I could create the career and education I wanted? All the while, life doesn’t stop. Clients still deserve the best service even on your worst days. Sometimes, the emotional fortitude, personal honesty, motivation, and professionalism required by this field are a lot to handle. Often, it’s not easy, but in the end, it’s always worth it.   

The beautiful:

It’s special to be in a space where you’re surrounded by people who are knowledgeable and excited by the beauty industry. Also having a home base where I could practice doing what I loved almost every day was a very rewarding experience. Now I can continue at my place of work within the field. I’m grateful to be able to express my passions, expand my education, and be myself while being taken seriously. It’s a very valuable experience.

Salon owner and student posing for scholarship award picture

Peter accepting his scholarship award with Jay, licensed cosmetologist, and owner of Jay Marie Salon and Spa.

Q: What study/educational techniques contributed to your success at Don Roberts School of Hair Design?

A: The PowerPoints provided for each chapter were super helpful study tools. They helped me throughout the course and in preparing for state licensing exams.

Q: What’s next? 

A: Right now, I plan to continue working and learning as a licensed esthetician/makeup artist. I will expand my repertoire of services as much as possible. I’m starting permanent lash extension training shortly as well as doing makeup for a promotional photoshoot this fall. I hope to continue growing within my current salon/spa and gain new opportunities working and educating with skincare and cosmetic brands in the future. 

And that’s a wrap, folks –  A special Thank You, Peter, for sharing and reflecting on your experience with us! Follow Peter at @smagaczskin on Instagram and book appointments with him at Jay Marie Salon and Spa. 

If you are interested in a career in the beauty industry, call us at 219-864-1600 to schedule your Discovery Day! We work to keep our classes small and our education up-to-date on the latest trends and industry best practices. When our students are successful, we are successful. We strive to provide our students with the education they need to be successful both in our time with us and after graduation. Our next program start date is September 18th, 2021.

See you soon!

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