Impact Stories

Alicia’s Path to Becoming a Licensed Hairstylist

As we count down to our 25th Anniversary Celebration in May, we are sharing key features and building blocks of our work to improve the lives of older foster youth. This month, we’re spotlighting Alicia, whose journey through our My First Place™ program illustrates typical stages of our young adults pass through: moving into an apartment, securing a part-time job to build savings and experience, setting and achieving short- and long-term goals, and finally identifying, enrolling in and completing the training and experience for a high growth career.

Alicia, 21, came into the My First Place™ program in July 2022 after a friend in the program recommended it. She has since taken advantage of every opportunity to succeed, obtaining a driver’s license and now working diligently to graduate from cosmetology school.

“My friend told me there were good resources and the staff were very patient and caring,” said Alicia. “She mentioned it’s a good opportunity, and if I had the chance to move, she said, ‘I think you should do it.’

Once she moved into her apartment, Alicia said her First Place team quickly helped her find a job in security to get work experience and begin saving. The job was just a few blocks from her apartment, but Alicia quickly set goals to get a driver’s license and save up to buy a car so she could more easily get around and visit her family and friends in the San Fernando Valley. Then, she and her team started to discuss her career plans and goals. After graduating high school, Alicia remembers feeling unsure of what career to pursue, but she knew her strengths.

“I’m a very much a people person – I like to engage in conversations, give feedback, and I thought maybe customer service is one of my strengths because I worked in the food industry since I was like 16 years old,” said Alicia. “So I spoke to Rachel, and I told her my ideas, how I wanted to go to a trade school in the beauty industry and start a career in the cosmetology field for the practice of hair.”

Alicia enrolled at the Los Angeles College of Aesthetics in Korea Town in December 2022 and received financial assistance through IOP and an Art + Practice scholarship. Alicia said she will complete 400 hours for her externship and finish cosmetology school in October. Then, she plans to take the State Board Exam and earn her license to become a licensed hairstylist.

Alicia credits her Youth Advocate with helping her every step of the way.

“Rachel has really good communication skills, and she’s very responsive,” Alicia said, adding that Rachel helped her get behind the wheel to practice driving and take the drivers’ test. “I passed my permit test, and then a couple of weeks later, I passed my behind-the-wheel test, and I was able to get my driver’s license.”

“Being in Los Angeles County, there’s a lot of opportunities for work and networking with other people as well that, you know, open doors for you,” said Alicia. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to work with my team, Ian, and Rachel.”

“Alicia has been an incredible partner,” said Youth Advocate Rachel Field. “She’s someone who just takes great advantage of every opportunity, from getting a driver’s license right away to being really patient through the process of getting into the cosmetology program. It’s just been a really big pleasure seeing her kind of thrive and succeed.”

“I’m just excited to looking forward with the next two three years of my life will look like and having a supportive team on my side,” Alicia says.

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