Winner of What’s Your Beauty School Inspiration Contest

by Jess Quandel
Beauty School Inspiration

A couple of months ago we launched our newly created TV commercials hoping to inspire people to follow their life long passion to become a cosmetologist. In honor of our commercials, we decided to launch an awesome contest on our main Facebook page called “What’s Your Inspiration”.  We wanted to hear from our students, graduates and others what or who inspired them to be a cosmetologist and when was the moment they new this was the career for them.

We received so many inspiring stories with about 150 total submissions in the contest.  Out of the 150 submissions a team at Empire picked 3 finalists and those 3 finalists’ stories were displayed and the public voted for a week for their favorite story.  The finalist that received the most votes at the end of that week would win a prize of professional products and tools valued at $500.00.

We greatly appreciate each and everyone who shared their story with us.  We believe that by sharing your story with us you may have inspired others to follow or not give up on their dream.

The winner of our ‘What’s Your Inspiration’ contest is…Disabled to Inspired written by Michael Jegier.

My personal inspiration comes from a lifetime of trials and uncertainty. 

I grew up dreaming of serving my country in the army. I was raised in an average household with a good sense of family values and to respect and treat others the way I wish to be treated. Until I was 12, living in Illinois on Ft. Sheridan. I had a perfectly normal child’s life. Expecting to one day follow in my father’s footsteps as a soldier. Until one day, unexpectedly, I fell ill and was misdiagnosed for several months with a simple stomach virus. Little did my family know the hardships that lay ahead. 

After moving to Kentucky in 1992 and still suffering from this stomach virus. My mother took me to Ireland Army Hospital on Ft. Knox to have me reevaluated and get another Dr.s opinion. The doctor right away after hearing my symptoms knew what I had. He looked at us both and with sincerity in his eyes and voice, told us that without further testing, he felt that I was suffering from a rare and little known disease at the time, especially in younger children. He said, looking my mom in the eyes “I think Michael might be inflicted with one of two things. I think he has either Ulcerative Colitis or Crohns Disease.” My mom tiered up and me seeing this reaction to what the doctor had just said, I knew it wasn’t good and I to started crying. The doctor set us up for further testing the following week. After which we returned to the office to get the results. A few minutes into the follow-up, our worst fears came to fruition. He diagnosed me with Crohns Disease and proceeded to tell us what to expect. After which we knew that we had a long difficult road ahead of us.
For the next eighteen years of my life I struggled with balancing health and work. Trying to make ends meet, living day by day. Loosing job after job due to health complications and hospitalizations, and never finding my place in life. Feeling that I would never be able to make it on my own, I moved back to Kentucky to help my mother take care of my step-father, who had been diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer the year prior. Soon after returning to Kentucky I was reunited with my high school sweetheart, Wendy, who I soon after married, knowing that she was the best thing in my life and would love me even on my worst days. Still to this day, I believe that I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for her love and support that she gives me every day.

For the next few years I continued to lose jobs and my health gradually got to a point where if Wendy hadn’t taken action, would surely have taken my life. More than a year of constant hospitalizations, in and out with infections, collapsed lungs, a bowel resection and constant depression and anxiety. I was deemed disabled and was finally granted some relief for my wife and myself. My health stabilized for the first time since I was diagnosed.
Since then I have been looking to the future and never looking back. I have always strived to be the best I can be in every avenue of life. But for the first time in my life I actually believe I may have a future. A future making others feels as good about themselves as I do myself today. I have held many, many jobs in my past. From retail and customer service to automotive and even one of my passions in the restaurant industry. Always falling short and never truly being happy with what I was doing. I stumbled across a possible career in the cosmetology industry. I talked to a few friends in the field. Hearing about how happy they where and the various people they met on a daily basis and how these people felt after getting there hair, nails and/or makeup done. I thought to myself this is something I can do and enjoy. I knew right away with my personal abilities and love of working with my hands, that this was a real possibility of my finally making my place in life. So I proceeded to gather information on the cosmetology industry and knew that what I had been looking for all these years had in fact found me. So I jumped at the opportunity.
I am presently going to Empire Beauty Schools of Elizabethtown, Kentucky and still in remission, knock on wood, and enjoying everything and everyone I come across. Every day is a new adventure and I look forward to my future as a beautician. I have plans to finish school and have been given an open ended opportunity to work with and for several salon owners. I am excited to see just what the years to come have in store for me now. Knowing that if I was to ever relapse I can still run and operate my own hours and still be able to work and make the bills that in my past I was not. Keeping that one little monkey off my back and relieving allot of stress. 
I hope to be able to make a difference in many peoples’ lives, whether it’s just a haircut that makes them feel good or lending that open ear and giving them an outlet to express and relieve their feelings. This is what motivates me to be the best I can be and to continually educate others on my life’s trials with a disability and let them know that they can always exceed their own aspirations and go further in life. 
I hope to meet many of you reading this in the years that lay ahead. Thank you for taking the time to read why I, am an aspiring cosmetologist.”

Congratulations Michael!!

December 11, 2012

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