Gretchen Nunez Guerrero: Wella’s Look, Feel, and Be Your True Self Scholarship

by Courtney Weikel

Gretchen Nunez Guerrero, Empire Lakeland Graduate, shared her life-changing story and received the Beauty Changes Lives Wella’s Look, Feel, and Be Your True Self Scholarship.

In 2015, Nunez Guerrero made a decision that changed her life. She decided to stop using chemicals that would straighten her curly hair and start over. After chopping off all of her hair, she began the journey to restore her natural curls. However, it was a decision that had its consequences. Nunez Guerrero struggled with finding stylists and products for her hair type.

When I made the decision, I didn’t think about the consequences. I only knew that I wanted to stop the chemical treatments and start from zero. It’s one thing to say it and another to experience it. The stylist started cutting my hair, then brought out the blades to shave it. I asked myself “what was I doing.” For the first year, it was bad. I couldn’t see myself in the mirror and my outfits and makeup didn’t look good on me. Nothing was working for me, it was a rough year. But I pushed through and since 2015, I haven’t done anything with chemicals to my hair.

To apply for the scholarship, Nunez Guerrero submitted a YouTube video talking about her journey in the beauty industry. She received a $6,000 scholarship to assist in paying for cosmetology school.

It was a huge help. When I was in school, I was not working. I had monthly payments for school that the student loans did not cover. I was working on social media for some income but it was difficult because I was studying full-time. When I won the scholarship, it covered the monthly payments that I had. I was able to focus completely on school, studying, and practicing.

Nunez Guerrero’s story shows us that it is never too late to follow your passion. Be curious about exploring different career paths, you never know where you’ll end up.

I had a career before going to cosmetology school but this was always in the back of my mind. Then COVID happened, and I made career changes because I didn’t want to continue working as a Crisis Counselor. I was thinking about my emotions and experiences I went through with my curly hair. When I’m with my stylist, I would have a feeling that I belong behind the chair and helping people with their journey. I chose Empire Beauty School in Lakeland for my education.

At Empire Beauty School, we understand that our students come in with different levels of experience. We work with each student to make the most of their time with us.

When I went to Empire Beauty School, I had no knowledge of hair. I haven’t done shampoo or blow dry on anyone, nothing. The first person that guided me was Marty Love, she explained the process and the scholarship which I owe to her. The educators were able to help and guide me, explaining things 100 times when I couldn’t understand the work or exams. Empire Beauty School was the best school that I could choose for this career. I feel like I am ready to work in the field, I don’t have the fear that I won’t make it in the real world.

Her biggest takeaway? Learning to adapt to any change that comes her way.

Adaptability is the main thing I learned from school. When I started, yes I had a career but it did not make me more or less compared to the other students. When the educators would teach in different ways, I had to adapt to understand the better way to get from point a to point b. I couldn’t be stubborn and say I only want to learn a certain way. You need to adapt to changes to make it. Empire Beauty School was able to improve that for me.

Nunez Guerrero handles her challenging days by looking for solutions and taking them step by step.

I take it one day at a time. I focus on one thing at a time and try to find solutions to them. When I have challenges in life, that is how I look at them. I can’t keep doing the same things looking for a different result. I push forward for myself because no one else would do it. I am lucky enough to have a support system in my husband and my family. If I don’t do it for myself, I will do it for them because they are always there to push me.

The beauty industry is a rewarding career where you are creating connections, making impacts, and giving your clients the treatment they desire.

I love the impact you can have with what you do. One thing that I noticed that is different from what I used to do is the instant gratification with cosmetology. The person will sit on the chair and will instantly see their reaction. You can change that person’s day or life by making that change they want. That is what I love the most, instant gratification from the clients.

Nunez Guerrero shares her favorite advice for students: go to school.

Go to school. It’s simple but people don’t do it. I finished school in less than nine months because I went every single day, even in storms. My goal from day one was to finish because I knew what I needed to do and what I wanted to do in the future.

Go to school, stay focused. If you feel like you don’t want to go, find your purpose. Tell yourself you will go to school that day to learn a new haircut and then do that. If you have family or friends to help you, that is important. If you want to finish, you have to go to school.

Graduating January 2023, Nunez Guerrero took a well-deserved vacation in Mexico and is now studying for the state board exams. She has been interviewing with salons to get to know the staff and salon. Once her state board exams are done, she will decide where to work.

For more information about Empire Beauty School, or how to enroll, please visit

March 8, 2023

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