Portage Lakes Career Center


Alana Casto

PLCC Adult Education Program Icon

School of Cosmetology Student

“My mom was a cosmetologist for 26 years. When I was a little girl, she taught me how to braid her hair while she was sitting on the couch.  In the basement, she had a salon chair, and that’s where she taught me how to cut and color her hair. Wanting to help people came naturally to me. I was in demand in high school for homecomings, proms, and winter formals, doing my friends’ hair and makeup before I did my own. 


When I graduated from Field High School in 2019, I went to Kent Stark for early childhood education. It was a rough second year because of COVID, but that pause gave me time to think. I wasn’t passionate about teaching anymore. I did want to help people grow but I knew in my heart that this wasn’t my path. It had always been about hair for me, so I decided that I wanted to build a career around helping people grow by working with them to make them look and feel their best. 


When my mom went to cosmetology school, it was different. She worried, like any parent, that I wouldn’t be able to support myself. But she and my dad stood behind me in whatever I wanted to do. She went to look at most of the schools with me.

I visited several cosmetology schools, beginning with a well-known one in Twinsburg that uses only their own brand of products. I didn’t want to be limited to learning only about their products, plus I live in Brimfield, and I didn’t want to drive there every day.  Another school didn’t have a good vibe and I could feel it as soon as I walked in. I had a good first impression at another school until I discovered that the first three to four months were solely classroom instruction, and hands-on experience came later.

I had never heard of PLCC but a friend’s sister who is a hairdresser said that she would have gone to PLCC if she had to do it over again, so I decided to check it out.”

“When Ida (Adult Education Enrollment Specialist) gave me a tour of PLCC, and explained the 10-month, fully accredited cosmetology program for adults, I knew immediately that this was the place for me. She wasn’t pushy, and it was obvious that it was a very welcoming environment. 

I started at PLCC in August 2021, and I attend class five days a week, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. I love the structure and we’re busy all the time. We have classroom work (Theory) for a couple hours, and then go to the salon (Lab) where we practice—on mannequins and each other—techniques that we’ve learned. When we started with hair, it was at the bottom: washing, then cutting. We moved pretty fast because there are many gifted and talented people in the class. 

The Lab is just like a salon, and we all have our own stations. Three days a week, the salon is open to the public. In the beginning, we were strictly supervised by our instructor, Dawn. The first time I saw clients, I was nervous—mostly about how to keep conversations going and putting people at ease. Now that I’ve seen some clients over and over, I’ve learned and grown with them. I feel like I’m at the point where I know what I’m doing. Dawn still walks around and checks our work but she doesn’t intervene as much. It’s very much one-on-one because I know that I’ll have Dawn’s complete attention if I need it.

It’s nice to have all the cosmetology skills under my belt, but for me, it’s all hair, all the way. I enjoy learning about extensions and color. Hair is all about vision and it’s very personalized. I love working with clients one-on-one to find what’s going to make them feel beautiful.

When I was going to college, I didn’t make any connections with my classmates, I was just there to earn my credits and leave. I had a lot of anxiety, and that feeling of being alone didn’t help. At PLCC, from the beginning, we were all one big family. Sure, we get on each other’s nerves sometimes—we’re with each other constantly—but that’s what it’s like with families. But we have each other’s backs and we have so much fun learning side-by-side, and growing together. I feel at home at PLCC.”


“As early as May, if I line up an internship to earn additional credit hours, I should have the 1,500 hours needed to qualify for the Ohio State Board of Cosmetology’s State Board Exam. I know I’ll be well-prepared because we’re learning things that we’ll use for the rest of our careers, not just for the state board. We spend a lot of time talking about and learning about real-life situations.  


The cost of the exam, as well as all the products and tools I use in the program, is included in my PLCC tuition. When I have the required number of hours, I’ll schedule a trip to Columbus to take the state board exam. My mom and I will drive down the day before and stay in a hotel. It’s a four-hour exam consisting of a written test and a lab. If I pass, I’ll be notified via email that I’m a licensed cosmetologist. 


Dawn posts when salons are hiring, and gives us tips on how to find work. It’s recommended that we start out working at a salon for commission/hourly rate because if you do that for a year, you’re eligible for a manager license. My goal is to eventually rent my own booth so I can be independent and have flexibility. Dawn always says that we should keep in touch and reach out if we need any help.

I believe that finding your passion is so important when it comes to deciding what you’re going to do for your career. If you’re passionate about hair or other cosmetology services, go for it. PLCC is a great place to learn everything you’ll need to start a career in the industry.

Schedule a Tour

We take pride in our facility and welcome the opportunity to show it off!  You would never buy a car without looking at it first.  Choosing the place to give you a head start on a successful path in life should be no different.  We invite you to schedule a tour of our beautiful campus.  We’re pretty sure you’ll be impressed!

If you are a high school student, please note that you will have several opportunities to visit PLCC during your sophomore year.

Once we receive your request, a PLCC staff member will follow up directly. Thank you for your interest, we look forward to seeing you soon.

Portage Lakes Career Center is accessible to visitors with physical disabilities. Visitors should contact the Main Office at 330-896-8200 prior to arrival for parking instructions and other information.