Hairdressers at Heart Ambassador Christina McCarver is a master of her craft, and we don’t say that lightly: she is a Board Certified Master Colorist, a groundbreaking editorial stylist and Senior Manager of Prestige Education at COTY Beauty.
Although Education is at the root of her passion, especially as she leads COTY’s Sebastian Professional, Nioxin and System Professional brands in developing and executing curriculum, she typically doesn’t spend time at high schools. But that’s just where Christina decided to spend her Tuesday: inside the classroom at Lake County High School’s Vo-Tech campus. On March 28th, the accomplished hairdresser made a visit to her alma mater.
McCarver’s high school experiences resonated with her, in part due to the support she received from her teachers and mentors. While her work often involves mentoring and helping other educators build their careers, mentorship is still an ongoing part of McCarver’s own professional development. In fact, the Hairdressers at Heart programming that has supported the careers of many up-and-coming stylists was started in part by her mentor, the late Fabio Sementilli. McCarver recognized that the best way to honor the memory of her late mentor was by carrying on the most inspiring lesson he taught her: paying it forward.
“I had a genuine desire to give back to the community that I grew up in. Keeping alive Fabio’s legacy of Paying It Forward to the next generation, I chose to give back to the vocational school I went to in high school.” Inspired by her mentor, McCarver wanted to show how education can pave the way to a bright future.
“Coming from a small town, sometimes it can feel like a dead end road,” McCarver recalled. She hoped to show the students how her education brought her to where she is today, and how it all started in those classrooms at Lake County. “I wanted to share a message that shared a bigger picture and encouraged a sense of what’s possible if you keep education as your cornerstone, stay driven and gracious.”
McCarver wanted students to know that there are countless career opportunities both behind and beyond the chair, from traveling and competing in hair shows to leadership positions like hers at COTY. “My hope was to inspire the students by exposing them to all that our industry has to offer as well as show them that someone from our little town got out and created an amazing career in beauty.”
For many of the students, this was their first time learning about the industry opportunities McCarver described. One student even confessed it was the first time a visiting speaker had shared insight and advice that translated out of the classroom into the real world. McCarver also reached out to the instructors, letting them know about nomination opportunities in competitions like the Sebastian What’s Next Awards and the Wella TrendVision competition. “The teachers were very interested in the Instructor of the Year award!” She also piqued the interest of both students and teachers when she told them about the competitions she works on, like the Sebastian What’s Next Awards.
She explained that these milestone competitions aren’t just daydreams. They’re real, aspirational goals that could be on the horizon for the students in her alma mater. “This school is a consistent competitor in the state’s vocational school competitions. Their cosmetology students have gotten into the top 10 every year for 30 years.” McCarver recognized the talent in that classroom and hoped her words could inspire those students to recognize their potential.
Her visit was not only a homecoming, bringing her back to her alma mater for the first time in 18 years, but it was also a celebration marking a milestone for the school. “This vocational school is going on their 40th anniversary and has some of the most committed instructors I’ve ever met.” The commitment and mentorship she experienced during high school helped to spark her passion for education, and it’s a passion that still burns bright.
For McCarver, giving back as a mentor and educator isn’t just a one-time thing: it’s a lifestyle. Her visit left a profound impression on the school where her career began, and it opened the door to more possibilities. “I would love to go back and potentially bring an artist with me to do a class, demo or speaking engagement.” Inspired by her mentor, Christina McCarver shared Hairdressers at Heart’s core values of scholarship, mentorship and community in the classroom.
Her lesson reached well beyond the classroom walls, shining light on how we can make the world a brighter place by paying it forward.
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