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A Paul Mitchell Beauty School in
Modesto Alumni

Take a moment to get to know some extraordinary Paul Mitchell The School Modesto alumni.

Their stories speak to the power of dreaming big—and getting a great education.

Aerica Pena

Notable Alumni - Paul Mitchell The School Modesto

I am a recent graduate of Paul Mitchell The School Modesto. Born and raised in Stockton, CA, I always had big dreams and goals. Growing up, I probably wanted to be everything under the sun, yet out of all the career choices, something always pulled me to the beauty industry. It made me feel good making others feel good about themselves. Styling my friends’ hair while playing dress up, watching my grandma get ready in her bathroom before work (as she pilled on her hairspray), or seeing the way my mom put on her lipstick before work always intrigued me. I loved it even at a young age.

Cosmetology school was always in my head, but whether it was timing or uncertainty I never really pursued it. After a few jobs, it became clear cosmetology was the right path for me.
Time went by and I got engaged to an amazing man, Jonathan Bayani, and had a beautiful baby girl, Alana Marie. When my daughter turned 3 years old, with the support from my family, I knew the timing was right to follow my dreams. After looking at many cosmetology schools, I found the perfect fit at Paul Mitchell The School Modesto. Making the decision to attend changed my life in so many ways. I loved going; from all the Learning Leaders who took the time to help me, to Adam in financial aid who let me bug him every day with questions, everyone was more than willing to help me succeed.

I entered school wanting to focus on makeup, but by the second day that all changed. This passion to learn about giving great hair services and an all around experience within the Paul Mitchell culture just pulled me in. I was hooked! I set high goals for myself and throughout my time at school found mentors to look up to who helped guide me along the way. With their help, I was able to accomplish so much, such as assisting beauty industry icons like Vivienne Mackinder and Paul Mitchell educators, graduating with Honors in Cutting, Color and Texture, and my biggest goal, making Dean's List! Also, winning Beacon this year was an extremely huge honor! 

I couldn't have done it without the help of all the Learning Leaders I admired. Someone I really look up to is Learning Leader Angel Martinez. With his help and guidance, I was selected to be part of Paul Mitchell's Barber Design Team at Caper 2015. He took the time to prepare me and make sure I had the proper skills and felt comfortable and confident. That is what I believe sets Paul Mitchell The School Modesto apart: Their Learning Leaders and staff go that extra mile to make sure you succeed. Not only were they instrumental in my development, but I would consider them to be part of my family now.

Upon graduating in February, I took a job at a very high-end salon in San Francisco, CA, yet I quickly realized that my heart and passion was with the Paul Mitchell family – I completely missed the culture. I relocated and, with guidance from Rosemary Safavi, found The Salon & Spa, A Paul Mitchell Experience located in Tracy, CA. It is perfect for me: on-going education, amazing girls and an owner who wants to see me succeed – I couldn’t be more grateful! Shelby Lawson, the owner who is also an amazing stylist, takes the time to give positive feedback and constructive criticism to help develop the skills I will need to be successful in this industry. I also love how the salon is so involved with the community and is always doing things to help local charities.

A long-term goal of mine is to be on the Paul Mitchell Advanced Academy Team. I had the privilege to take a class taught by Jason Reyes during Caper 2015. Something just clicked; just being in the room with him and seeing the way he was so fluid when he cut hair really inspired me. You can say I've set some pretty high goals for myself, but I am so determined and motivated. I'm definitely excited for the future and can’t wait to see what it holds! If you would like to follow me on my journey, my Instagram is @Aerica_marie and my Facebook is Aerica Marie. Thanks for reading, and thank you Paul Mitchell. .

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