Portage Lakes Career Center


CAREER TECH WORKS! - Meet Alumni Lucretia Smith-Harris

Lucretia Smith-Harris, 51, knew she had to take steps to take charge of her future. 


The married mother of three began her career as a dental assistant more than 35 years ago and became an Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary (EFDA) in 2004. But injuries from a 2007 auto accident–two broken ankles and a fractured knee–have plagued her for years. 


“My first love has always been dental but there might come a time when I won’t be able to stand for long hours anymore,” she said. “I wanted to get something under my belt. I come from a family of cosmetologists so I knew there was money to be made in that industry.” 


Lucretia researched other career tech schools but was attracted to PLCC’s evening nail technician training program because she could continue working at the dental practice while taking classes.


“From my initial visit, I felt it was a very comfortable and safe environment,” she said. “I could see that the facility was modern and state-of-the-art.”


She started PLCC’s 10-week program in August 2022. “The transition from teeth to nails was easier than I thought it would be because the drill techniques are similar. I especially enjoyed the fact that Liz, the instructor, was a salon owner so we learned about the business side of the industry.”


Initially, it was intimidating being an older student.“It sounds funny now but at first, I struggled with the technology. My young adult classmates were quick to help and before long, I was on Instagram and TikTok learning new techniques and finding different nail designs.”


Since passing the nail technician license exam last December, Lucretia still works Monday through Thursday at the dental office but spends her Fridays doing nails in her friend’s salon. 


“From Day 1, I was able to use what I’d learned at PLCC,” she said, adding that she’s found her niche in senior pedicures and already has a clientele base. “I’m still helping people like in the dental office but they let their guard down more with me because of the one-on-one relationship.”


The income potential for nail technicians was a bit of a surprise. “I had expected a little here and there but I’ve already had one day that topped what I make as an EFDA,” she said. “I never thought I’d be able to make that kind of money doing nails.”


Lucretia views her PLCC experience as an investment that will pay off down the road. “Life constantly changes and you have to adapt. Pick something you are interested in and get educated. Be proactive about your future. I can see myself doing this for another 20 to 25 years.”

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.