By Samantha Messner
CCC Journalism Program

GLOUCESTER CITY – Stephanie Watson, 19, a cosmetology student at PB Cosmetology School in Gloucester City, N.J., is extremely happy with the path she decided to take once graduating from Lindenwold High School in 2009.

Stephanie Watson wears the Look of Hollywood that won her an award. By Samantha Messner, CCC Journalism Program

Watson hates her name. That’s why her friends and family call her Neen. The nickname Neen came from her childhood babysitter, who was a Spanish woman who used to her Stephaneeeena. That is where her best friend, Jamie, came up with Neen. It has been stuck on her like glue ever since.

Watson was always the girl in high school who had the best hair and in saying that, her hair was real. At Lindenwold High School, many people had weaves or wigs, but Watson was not one of them. She was always telling people what they should do with their hair and what color they should dye it. She’s always been interested in hair, that’s why it was no surprise when she decided to enroll at PB Cosmetology School. Neen even won “Best Hair” her senior year in high school.

Her goal is to become a platform artist, which is a cosmetologist who travels from state to state or to different countries to demonstrate new hair cuts and new hair techniques around the world.

At PB Cosmetology School, some of her accomplishments were winning first place in the “Look of Hollywood” competition along with the “Vintage” competition. She was also recommended by her teachers at PB to do the mayor of Gloucester City’s wife’s hair.

“You need to be passionate about what you do and you must be good at it,” Watson said of preparing for the profession she wants to enter. “You’re mixing chemicals on a regular basis and taking written tests on a daily basis.”

Most cosmetology students are only certified in what the school certifies them in; however, Watson is not only certified by PB, but she also got certified in Keratin, which is a new technique used in salons all over the world to deep condition and permanently straighten hair.

She got this certification completed through her future boss, Tara Lee Huster. Once she graduates from PB Cosmetology in late December, she will be assisting Huster in her newly opened salon in Berlin, N.J., called Tara Lee’s and plans eventually to work her way up. Once she graduates from PB, she plans to start working at Tara Lee’s full-time, while taking classes at Camden County College, so just in case the cosmetology thing doesn’t work out, she’ll have something to fall back on. She doesn’t know what she will major in yet, but she does know the cosmetology field is a hard industry to stay constant in so she plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in the near future.

“Throughout this whole journey I wouldn’t have made it this far without my mentor, Tara Lee Huster,” Watson said. “She has been such an influence on me since the first time I met her. She is so determined to make it to the top and that’s how I tend to be when I’m 10 years into the industry.”

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