A Conversation with the Support and Empowerment Program at MCC

By NiCosha Nelms 

Letitia Monsey, interim coordinator of the Support and Empowerment Program at McLennan Community College and associate director of the Completion Center, answered some questions about the program and the purpose it serves for students.

The interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Tell us about the Support and Empowerment Program. 

This program began in 1979 as a community service of the Junior League of Waco, Inc. The focus was on serving single parent and displaced homemaker students at MCC. As of Fall 2019, the program has expanded to serve a broader population of students in need. Our purpose is to provide them with social, academic, and financial support so that they can do well as a student.

The idea is to support the student holistically, not just as a student but as a person, so that they may be successful in their family life or any relationships they may have. We want them to grow as a person outside of their academic experience. 

What are the services and the resources the program offers?

We provide them with a success coach, workshops every semester that are offered on a variety of topics, funds for childcare or transportation, crisis intervention, financial benefit, and much more. 

How can students participate?

The application is posted each semester on our website, and it’s due a month before the enrolling semester starts. Students have to apply, and we thoroughly review if the applicants are under one of nine different populations. They have to be in a workforce degree plan, be enrolled in at least nine hours of credit towards that degree plan (six hours face-to-face or on campus) and have maintained 2.0 cumulative GPA.

What are some of the responses you have received from the program? 

Our students are drawn to the program because of the financial benefit, but they sing the praises of the program because of the support they received from their coaches. They find peers to connect with that share similar goals and help them to see they are not alone and are fighting the same battles they are fighting.

Tell us one thing you would want your students to take from this whole experience.

I would hope, the ability to ask for help. I believe everyone has a hard time giving that advice instead of taking it. I think that is the trick to being a successful college student, is learning to ask for help. I assume most of the students in the program have essentially done everything alone or without any type of help, so they pride themselves in that independence. There is always somebody who has been where you have been, and if you learn to confide in someone, they can help you get plugged into the right resources. 

Visit www.mclennan.edu/support-and-empowerment or call the Completion Center at 254-299-8226 for more information about the program and services. 

NiCosha Nelms is a Marketing and Communications Intern at McLennan Community College. She is a senior at Baylor University studying Journalism, Public Relations and New Media with a minor in Business. She hopes to work in sports or entertainment. She is from Teague, Texas and likes creating YouTube videos.

he Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

Best-selling Author Stephen Harrigan to Visit McLennan Community College for Conversation and Book-Signing

Press release – McLennan Community College is proud to host best-selling author Stephen Harrigan for a wideranging conversation about the vast history of Texas. 

Harrigan, the author of ten books of both fiction and nonfiction, will sign copies of his latest book, “Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas,” which will be available for purchase. 

He will also answer audience questions after a public conversation event with Dr. Richard Driver, an associate professor of history of MCC. 

The free event is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 26 at the Conference Center at MCC. It is hosted by the McLennan Honors College, a program for MCC students taking specialized course work, exposing themselves to new educational opportunities, and participating in individual mentoring. Students in the program must apply and undergo an interview process for acceptance. 

MCC President Dr. Johnette McKown and Honors College Advisor Dr. John Spano will welcome guests and introduce the speaker. Free coffee and water will be available. 

“Big Wonderful Thing” has brought rave reviews for Harrigan. In a review for The Wall Street Journal, Willard Spiegelman noted that the book is “brimming with sass, intelligence, trenchant analysis, literary acumen and juicy details. . . It is popular history at its best.” And Michael Schaub, in his review for NPR, wrote that “It’s hard to think of another writer with as much Lone Star credibility as Stephen Harrigan. . . Harrigan, essentially, is to Texas literature what Willie Nelson is to Texas music.” 

He is a longtime writer for Texas Monthly, and his articles and essays have appeared in a wide range of other publications as well, including The Atlantic, Outside, The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, Conde Nast Traveler, Audubon, Travel Holiday, Life, American History, National Geographic and Slate. He was a finalist for the 2015 National Magazine Awards for his commentary on film and television for Texas Monthly. “Off Course”, a piece for Texas Monthly about a trek Harrigan made to the mountain summit where his father died in a plane crash before he was born, won the Edwin “Bud” Shrake Award from the Texas Institute of Letters in 2016 for best work of journalism.

Harrigan is also the author of “The Eye of the Mammoth,” a book of essays which includes an examination of mammoth remains in Waco. 

Among the many movies Harrigan has written for television are HBO’s award-winning “The Last of His Tribe,” starring Jon Voight and Graham Greene, and “King of Texas,” a western retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear for TNT, which starred Patrick Stewart, Marcia Gay Harden, and Roy Scheider. His most recent television production was “The Colt,” an adaptation of a short story by the Nobel-prize winning author Mikhail Sholokhov, which aired on The Hallmark Channel.

Event Details

What: Best-selling author Stephen Harrigan at McLennan Community College When: Thursday, March 26 at 7 p.m. Where: Conference Center at MCC. Inside the Community Services Center on campus, at 4601 N. 19th St. Waco, TX 76708

Tickets: Free tickets are available at: www.mcchonors.eventbrite.com. Tickets, which may be printed or downloaded on the Eventbrite app, must be presented at the door. Those without tickets will be admitted 5-10 minutes before the event starts. 

Parking: Free parking is within walking distance of the event. Lots N, Q, P, and S are closest. Check out a campus map here. 

This event is a gun-free zone, and MCC is a smoke-free, tobacco-free, and vape-free campus. 

Media Contact: Lisa Elliott, Director of Marketing and Communications.  254-299-8640 [email protected]  

Continuing Education at McLennan Community College plays a special role in Waco

By Phillip Ericksen

The program is committed to the idea that a community benefits from learning experiences. Its mission, posted on its website, puts it best:

“It is our mission to provide educational opportunities and lifelong learning experiences to enhance, promote, and develop a higher quality of life for our community. Continuing Education boasts an impressive group of instructors, who are professionals in their fields, and a wide array of course offerings that include community programs, corporate training, and health and human services.”

The slate of courses offered to the public this spring includes some classic offerings alongside a few exciting, new classes.

Have you ever wanted to bake bread, or upgrade your homemade pizza night? Or how about learn yoga workouts, or improve your short game on the golf course? Now is the time to do so.

If you’re looking to work your way up in the business world, courses in human resource management or essential programs like Microsoft Office and the Adobe Creative Cloud can boost your skillset and make your resume stand out.

The Continuing Education staff has also highlighted a few new courses this spring.

  • The Truth About Race: This course, in partnership with the Community Race Relations Coalition, will explore the origins of racism and prejudice, how people learn racism, and how to effect change.
  • Networking for Professionals: This course on networking etiquette for professionals and business owners will teach you how to make the most of any networking event.
  • A Taste of West Africa: This new culinary course will introduce food enthusiasts to West African traditions and techniques that influence Southern recipes through spice blending and sauce making.

Another exciting offering within Continuing Education is MCC Kids College, which offers camps this summer, June through August. Camps fall under the categories of Music & Dance, Sports, Lifelong Learning, and more.

For example, new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) courses for kids will be offered through a partnership with Maker’s Edge Makerspace, a community workshop and studio on Austin Avenue. These courses will give students hands-on experience with building new things and learning in the process.

And at the end of February, Continuing Education is partnering with an organization called Making Awesome Things Happen for an entrepreneurship course aimed for middle school students. The Saturday course will teach financial literacy and the processes of starting a business, from creating a budget to selling a product.

The course concludes with a mini-business plan and a “Shark Tank”-style pitch.

The Continuing Education program tends to mainly attract retired people with a little extra time on their hands, but instructors still see different ages across the board. All are encouraged to visit www.mccandyou.com to find the right courses based on their interests and schedules. Those interested can also call the office at 254-299-8888 or email [email protected].

Phillip Ericksen is the marketing and communications specialist at McLennan Community College. For about four years, he was a journalist at the Waco Tribune-Herald covering higher education and local government. He enjoys following the news, reading books and drinking coffee. As a San Antonio native, he is an avid fan of Mexican food and the Spurs basketball team. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baylor University.  He can be reached at [email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

Q&A with the MCC Cosmetology Department

By Stacy Burger

Laura Hays, program director of the Cosmetology Department at McLennan Community College, answered our questions about this department and this exciting career path.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. 

Tell us about the MCC Cosmetology Department generally.

The MCC Cosmetology Department began in the late 1970s. The department is a training facility which teaches all aspects of the industry, including all hair-related skills, manicuring, pedicuring, skin care and business-related skills. Our students schedule is Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and currently takes about 16 months to complete.  

We also offer an Esthetician Program which is a specialty course that teaches only the skin care aspect.   

In addition, we serve the community through our full-service MCC Salon and Spa.

What services does the Cosmetology department offer?

We offer facials, waxing, lash and brow tinting, haircuts, manicures, pedicures, haircuts, clipper cutting, hairstyling, perms, relaxers, braiding, hair color, highlighting, etc.

We teach a diversity of hair textures and styling to our students, which enables them to be skillful with all types of hair.

The program offers two specialized certifications. Can you explain what those are?

The Cosmetology certification allows a person to practice and perform all aspects of the industry.

The Esthetician certification allows a person to only practice and perform skin care related skills and waxing services. I am currently the program director of cosmetology, but I also teach the esthetician program as well.

Both programs have a state examination upon successful completion of the courses, which include a written and practical exam. Those who pass are issued a license by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. I am happy to share that for many years we have had a 100% pass rate!

What does the application and admissions process look like? 

A prospective student is asked to come by the Cosmetology Department, located at 4601 North 19th Street in the Community Service Center, Building B, to fill out an application. We like this personal approach to be able to answer questions and give the person a tour of the facility.

A reading assessment is required due because of the requirement for passing the state written examination. We choose our students by this score. If a candidate scores lower than the minimum score, we offer a reading support class through MCC’s Adult Education and Learning Department at no charge to the candidate. Upon successful completion of this class, and if space is available, the candidate may enroll. If space is not available in the current enrollment, the candidate is guaranteed a place in the next enrollment. This has proven to be a hugely successful practice for all candidates to be able to enroll with the support for success.

Once accepted in the Cosmetology Program, the students will follow the College procedures for admittance.

We receive over 100 applications every semester!

What have customers said about the salon and spa at MCC?

We are told we are the best kept secret in Waco!

Tell us about one thing you try to focus on with your students in the department.   

This is an easy one to answer: professionalism! There is a lot of great talent that unfortunately doesn’t get utilized due to a lack of professionalism. A percentage of a student’s grade is based on professionalism.

Appearance, grammar, customer service, communication, cell phone etiquette, etc. are all areas of importance to our instruction.                              

Visit www.mclennan.edu/cosmetology for more information about the program and salon services.

Stacy Burger is a Marketing and Communications Intern at McLennan Community College. She is a senior at Baylor University studying Marketing & Public Relations and hopes to work in sports or entertainment. As a Colorado native, she enjoys all things outdoors.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email a[email protected]for more information.

The Completion Center at MCC is more than just support — it’s a family.

by Stacy Burger

College students face many responsibilities throughout their time in college. These can include navigating parenthood, work-life balance and insecurities of finances, housing and food.

The Completion Center at McLennan Community College is free to all MCC students to help them reach their full potential. Success coaches help students develop a balance between academics and the outside circumstances in their life.

“They want to see you succeed in school,” MCC student Alexis Escobar said. “That’s the ultimate goal. But if they notice you’re having troubles in your personal life they want to take care of that, as well.”

Each success coach has an area of emphasis. Some specialize in coaching single parents or first-generation college students, while others coach students with financial pressures or general academic struggles.

“We help students be their genuine self,” success coach Starlen Roddy said. “Everything we do here is centered around the student whole-heartedly.”

A lot of times, students struggle with understanding the idea behind spending thousands of dollars on a college education, when they could be working and making money instead. The Completion Center combats those thoughts to help students understand their purpose.

“Everybody here is trying to get students in the right mindset of, ‘You’re here for a reason and you need to finish it out,’ ” MCC student LJ Curtis said.

Success Coaches at the Completion Center

Success coaches, who meet with multiple students a day, say students leave the Completion Center feeling proud of their purpose and more confident in their skills.

“They definitely changed my mindset about school in general,” Curtis said. “They’ve just helped me understand why I’m here.”

Following their time at the Completion Center, students come back with success stories due to the support they received from coaches.

“After meeting with a success coach, students come back and tell us stories about how, not only did they survive the semester, but they’re looking forward to graduating and being able to tell their kids how they overcame certain things,” Roddy said.

It isn’t just a place to get help with academics. It is a place filled with coaches that want each student to succeed, be happy and fulfill their purpose. Coaches also connect students with resources available to them across campus and in the community.

For instance, all MCC students have free access to tutoring and the campus counseling center. Paulanne’s Pantry also provides food free of charge to students, and students may apply for emergency grants of up to $250 from the MCC Foundation.

“It became like a family to me,” Escobar said.

Success coaches also encourage students to stop by the Completion Center even if they don’t know exactly what they want to do next.

“If you don’t know your goals let us walk with you in order to help you get there,” Roddy said. “Give us the opportunity to not only assist, but to welcome you with open arms.”

Stacy Burger is a Marketing and Communications Intern at McLennan Community College. She is a senior at Baylor University studying Marketing & Public Relations and hopes to work in sports or entertainment. As a Colorado native, she enjoys all things outdoors.

A $1.5 Trillion Crisis and How to Avoid It

By Stacy Burger

Student loan debt is a national crisis, reaching its highest levels ever in 2019.

Student debt is the only consumer debt with continuous cumulative growth since the Great Recession, according to Bloomberg. And according to Forbes, student loan debt totals over $1.5 trillion with 45 million people across the U.S. having some type of student loan debt.

Both millennials and baby boomers deal with student debt, and studies show Generation Z is looking to avoid it.

Many students take to less expensive alternatives when it comes to the soaring costs of tuition at public and private universities. Community colleges provide students a financial advantage. Students can prepare for the financial demands of a four-year university in their first two years at a community college.

The University Center at McLennan Community College is committed to students looking to earn their bachelor’s degrees without debt. University Center Director Annette Scott helps students combat student loan debt.

“In general, I see students that get out of college and they end up getting a wonderful job with that college degree,” Scott said. “But they end up spending 15 to 20 years, some of them, paying for their college debt.”

Scholarships play a large part in avoiding that debt. Scott encourages students to be proactive in finding scholarship opportunities and to apply for all the scholarships they can.

“There’s aid out there that goes unclaimed simply because people don’t apply for it,” Scott said.

Attending community college can alleviate that financial burden, as well.

“If you can get your freshman and sophomore level classes from a community college, that’s always the best thing to do. You save a lot of money,” Scott said.

Most students work to pay for expenses throughout college. Some employers will award tuition assistance based on certain criteria the company decides on.

Companies like Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, Smuckers, Verizon, Bank of America, Oracle, UPS and Fidelity among others, offer tuition reimbursements to employees.

“If you have an employer, go to the human resources desk and see if they reimburse for college debt,” Scott said.

Despite rising tuition costs of four-year universities, there are alternatives to avoid student loan debt altogether. Seeking out scholarships, attending community college or finding an employer that will reimburse for tuition costs are some ways to avoid the student debt.

“It’s nice when people can finish their college degree and walk across that stage debt free,” Scott said.

Stacy Burger is a Marketing and Communications Intern at McLennan Community College. She is a senior at Baylor University studying Marketing & Public Relations and hopes to work in sports or entertainment. As a Colorado native, she enjoys all things outdoors.

MCC Hispanic Student Association brings Ciclovía to Waco

By Ricky Galindo

The Hispanic Student Association at McLennan Community College is comprised of two co-leaders, Aranza Torres and Ruben Salazar. The rest of the members are students, who largely lead the organization. Essentially our purpose or our drive for this organization is to be inclusive of people of all kinds, and that’s not something one tends to see these days. As much as people preach about being inclusive, there is still some sort of bias as to what people should be included. We really want to bring that awareness of inclusiveness. Because everyone is different, we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. Ruben and Aranza do a great job at picking up on these things that the students themselves might not realize.

The students are the voices of this organization. They are nurturing their minds and sharing what they have learned either from school or through their own research. It’s minds like these that will drive this world. As kids—and I think I speak for everyone on this—we have questions about any and everything and we look to our parents who often don’t have an answer other than, “Because I said so.” That answer can only work for so long, until the child starts to look for other sources of information and begins to educate themselves. There’s a certain point of “adulthood” or life after college where that desire for learning starts to fade away. Our hope is to keep this drive for learning beyond this organization and life after college. During our meetings we usually talk about a variety of subjects ranging from things like the environment, culture, society, etc. But HSA isn’t always so serious, we like to have fun at these meetings as well and can discuss topics like movies, tv shows and even food.

I am proud to announce to you that this great organization is working on a project that will include the whole community!  We are hosting a Waco Ciclovía!

What is a Ciclovía and where did we get the idea?

It all began, in Bogota, Colombia. Each Sunday and public holiday from 7 am until 2 pm several main streets are blocked off for cars and runners, skaters, and bicyclists take over the streets. The event takes on the feeling of a fun health festival with different groups setting up spaces for aerobics, yoga and other fitness and health activities.  In Bogata, the weekly Ciclovías are used by over 2 million people. (about 30% of the population).  (Ciclovía)

Ciclovía began in Bogota in December of 1974.  It was started by a man named Jaime Ortiz Mariño. In 1976, the city officially adopted the program, which was promoted by the city government and the transportation department. In 2007 a Colombian congressman proposed a law banning Ciclovías, stating that they caused traffic jams. Many cyclists, Ciclovía users, city council and congress members protested this law and the law was soon defeated. Since then, every Sunday Bogota closes down ten of their busiest roads for the Ciclovía.

Our hope for this event is that through true social networking – human interaction – we can strengthen our community and stress the importance of things like our environmental impact. It is also to show how easy and fun it can be to exercise for just minutes a day. Another hope of ours is to expand this event beyond the campus of McLennan Community College and make this a city-wide event. We believe what we are doing matters and our event is just as important as many of the other festivals and events that have gained popularity around town. 

The Hispanic Student Association is currently accepting donations  for this event and will continue to accept contributions during the event —anything and everything helps. We are also looking for volunteers, so if you would like to help follow the link below. Our Ciclovía will take place on November 9th at 8am-12pm, in the center of MCC Campus. I hope you and your family and friends will join us!  

Volunteer:   ​https://volunteersignup.org/Q7Y3Q<https://volunteersignup.org/Q7Y3Q

Donation:    https://commerce.cashnet.com/mclennanem1pay?ITEMCODE=EM1-HSA

Ricky Galindo graduated from McLennan Community College with an associate’s degree in the visual arts. He is a photographer and has won two awards for his photos. He has appeared in three of MCC’s literary magazines and in one in Florida. He photographs bands, people and things on the street he finds interesting. He has also helped with photography for Analog Waco. He loves reading books and having good conversations with people and doing normal people things. 

MCC is a Great College to Work For. Here’s why it was made official.

By Stacy Burger

McLennan Community College has received a special recognition highlighting its devotion to faculty and staff.

The Waco college of about 9,000 students was named a “2019 Great College to Work For,” a designation recognizing 85 colleges and universities nationwide. MCC was one of 25 two-year institutions recognized.

MCC received special honors in two categories: teaching environment and compensation and benefits.

The Great Colleges to Work For program utilizes a two-part assessment: results of an internal faculty, administrative and support staff survey and a comprehensive questionnaire of employment data and workplace policies and practices.

The college serves a diverse community that encourages faculty and staff to go beyond the norm in the classroom.

“We would prefer, as academic leadership, that you try innovative and exciting things and take some risks, than just always do what you’ve been doing,” said Dr. Chad Eggleston, Dean of Arts and Sciences.

To develop innovative teaching and trust inside and outside of the classroom, MCC has focused on building the relationship between faculty and staff.

“I think we have a culture that tries to have an administrative faculty and staff relationship that trusts one another,” Eggleston said. “So when we’re all doing that, you’ve got a culture of trust and a culture of collegiality. And that’s part of what makes this such a great place to work.”

Providing fair compensation and benefits packages to more than 850 employees was another major factor in the recognition.

The seven-member Board of Trustees and the administration has worked to bring compensation to state and regional standards. MCC was able to provide substantial increases in compensation over a three-year period, starting in the 2018-19 fiscal year.

“Every employee has specific circumstances in their life and has priorities when making employment decisions,” said Dr. Stephen Benson, Vice President of Finance and Administration. “Our hope is that we offer a combination of compensation and other benefits that make us a top choice.”

Benefits such as health insurance, retirement contributions, 90-minute wellness allowances per week, generous vacation time and free tuition for MCC classes have rewarded employees for the value they bring to the college’s mission of increasing access to higher education.

“The health insurance coverage provided to employees is at no cost to the employee,” Benson said. “We provide a generous leave plan and free tuition for employees and dependents to take courses at MCC. We also offer an excellent work environment that shows we value our employees.”

As MCC continues to invest its resources in its employees and in the classroom, the college always aims to improve even more.

“We’re always going to be innovative as teachers,” Eggleston said. “We’re going to learn as much as we possibly can on the faculty side.”

Stacy Burger is a Marketing and Communications Intern at McLennan Community College. She is a senior at Baylor University studying Marketing & Public Relations and hopes to work in sports or entertainment. As a Colorado native, she enjoys all things outdoors.

Top 10: MCC Alum Sweetening up the Neighborhood!

Top 10  “Most Opened” Blog Posts of 2019: # 2

By Phillip Ericksen

Eddy Garcia is bringing some sweets back to the neighborhood.

The 23-year-old McLennan Community College graduate is opening Helados La Azteca No. 2 – a Mexican dessert shop – at the intersection of Colcord Avenue and North 15th Street.

The shop opened Saturday in the growing North Waco area primed to celebrate local business and the Hispanic culture of the neighborhood.

Garcia was born in Los Angeles and moved to Waco with his family when he was 8 years old. He earned his associate of arts degree from MCC this Spring, on top of a certificate of completion from the MCC Fire Academy in the Fall of 2017.

“A lot of doors open up with school,” he said. “You’ve got to find the right opportunity and take it, and that’s what I did. As soon as I got my associate’s degree, this is what I’ve been doing since.”

Garcia thanked Bradley Turner, an associate professor of environmental science, who especially motivated him.

“I was taking his class while I was opening this up,” Garcia said. “He motivated me so much.”

Garcia’s family operates the original location of Helados La Azteca at 3302 Franklin Ave. This new shop will sell Mexican ice cream, paletas, fruit and other Mexican desserts. It will also carry Blue Bell ice cream, a Texas favorite.

World Cup Café and Fair Trade Market, Jubilee Food Market and D’s Mediterranean Grill surround the area that also includes Baked Bliss Baking Company, West Avenue Elementary School, Grassroots Community Development and Family Health Center.

Mission Waco, a local nonprofit, owns Garcia’s space known as The Colcord Center. Garcia credited the strength of the neighborhood and the support of all involved in the project.

He also plans to partner with the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and participate in events with other local businesses.

The location of Helados La Azteca No. 2 is just a short drive from MCC, where thousands of students are on their pathways to either a new profession or a promotion in their current field.

Potential students may explore courses and register at mclennan.edu.

Phillip Ericksen is the marketing and communications specialist at McLennan Community College. For about four years, he was a journalist at the Waco Tribune-Herald covering higher education and local government. He enjoys following the news, reading books and drinking coffee. As a San Antonio native, he is an avid fan of Mexican food and the Spurs basketball team. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baylor University.  He can be reached at [email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

Top 10: The MCC Cosmetology Salon is Getting a Makeover

Top 10  “Most Opened” Blog Posts of 2019: # 8

by Mandie Meier

As the students at McLennan Community College’s Cosmetology program are making over their clients, their salon is getting a makeover as well.

In 1988, the cosmetology building at MCC moved from the main campus in the Applied Science building to the Community Services Center. Since then, only the reception area has been remodeled. Now, the salon is finally getting a renovation.

During phase two of construction, which began in May, the salon is being completely gutted. The walls have been knocked down, leaving one big floor plan. Construction will also be cutting in windows.

“Every countertop, every styling chair, every station,” said Laura Hays, Program Director and Esthetician Professor. “Everything is brand new.”

Hays, who has worked at MCC for 29 years, is proud to say the program has come a long way in the past several years.

“Enrollment right now is at an all-time high,” Hays said. “We are at capacity. That’s probably one of the biggest changes, I think.”

Not only is enrollment high, but so is the success rate for students taking board exams. Both programs have a 100 percent pass rate on state examinations.

Hays said she is most excited for the students to have a nicer salon to work.

“Really and truly, I know that the community is extremely important,” Hays said. “But, just for our students to be able to be in a cosmetically up-to-date modern salon environment, it just gives them a nice, updated place to come and learn. That’s just so important. They’re so excited. They can’t wait.”

Sidney Smith, a third semester MCC cosmetology student, was well into her cosmetology education at another institution before deciding to start over with MCC.

“Before coming to MCC, I had the opportunity to see that a beautiful school doesn’t mean there’s a good education,” Smith said. “However, here, your teacher is there with you from start to finish with whatever help you need.”

Although she believes a beautiful salon doesn’t necessarily equal a good education, she thinks the renovations will improve the overall atmosphere and give everyone something to look forward to. She also said that cosmetology and aesthetics go hand and hand.

“I just feel like with hair, you have to stay up to date with things, so I feel like the aesthetic environment also needs to be up-to-date,” Smith said.

Kayla Hardin, another third semester cosmetology student, said people will take the school more seriously with the new salon.

“I think people will feel more comfortable getting their hair done there because they’ll think it’s a more professional environment,” Hardin said.

Hardin also said the new salon will provide clients with quicker visits.

“I think we’ll get more clients in and out quicker because we’re going to have 10 shampoo bowls versus the two we have right now,” Hardin said. “There won’t be any lines.”

The targeted completion date for the renovation is before August 26th — the day fall semester begins. Be on the lookout for these changes and more to the cosmetology department coming in the future.

Interested in studying cosmetology at MCC? Visit //mclennan.edu/cosmetology. Students may earn certificates in Cosmetology, Cosmetology Instructor or Esthetician Specialist.

The general public is invited to take advantage of the services offered by the MCC School of Cosmetology including manicure/pedicure, and haircuts. To schedule an appointment, call 254-299-8701. A full list of services and prices is available here: http://www.mclennan.edu/cosmetology/docs/CosmetologyMenu2017_V2.pdf

Mandie Meier is a student journalist at the University of Texas at Austin. She has worked at ORANGE Magazine and Afterglow ATX in the past. She mainly covers music, but also has reported on the food and drink section of ORANGE Magazine. She served as a marketing and communications intern at McLennan Community College this summer.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.