Student Highlight: Dalayah Johnson and Mikayla Garth

6Dying hair, painting nails, and brushing on makeup.  While many partake in these cosmetic modifications, these beauty-enhancing measures are oftentimes associated with vanity, tied to an industry that thrives on surface-deep material: clothing, makeup, hair-extensions, fake lashes, and the like.

However, with one look into a typical salon, it is evident that those who work in the cosmetology industry are doing much more than assisting in creating façades.  Cosmetologists help clients build their confidence so that they may shamelessly live their unique styles; they are listeners about life and are some of the first people a bride may see on her wedding day; they are builders of brands, helping prepare campaigns through magazine photoshoots, runway shows, and videos.  While cosmetology may be skin-deep, the impact that cosmetologists make is not.

1However, for Denver Online High School students, Dalayah Johnson and Mikayla Garth, the impact they are making as cosmetologists is a little different.

Johnson, 18, and Garth, 17, are actively involved in their religion as Jehovah’s Witnesses.  They volunteer 70 hours a month and 840 hours a year talking to people about their religion, going door-to-door or conversing with people on the street.  “I like it all.  It’s just nice because we help people, give them hope, encouraging people, and giving them good news,” Johnson said.

5The girls transferred to Denver Online High School as a result of their demanding volunteer schedules.  Johnson noted, “We went to online school so we could spend more time volunteering.”  “The online school let us set our own schedule,” Garth added.

4Taking advantage of this education flexibility, both girls were able to complete school early.  However, instead of graduating early, they decided to seize an opportunity to complete the cosmetology program at Emily Griffith Technical College, an opportunity provided through Denver Online High School’s concurrent enrollment program.  The students chose this route in order to be more competitive in applying for a position at Bethel in New York, a religious complex for Jehovah Witnesses.

“The main objective of every Bethel is to make Bible truth available to as many people as possible,” the Jehovah’s Witness website (jw.org) states.  At each Bethel facility, volunteers serve in many capacities, providing work in the office, the kitchen, printing, housekeeping, maintenance, or many other areas.

“If you have a trade, it’s easier to get into Bethel.  There are thousands of people applying, so a trade makes it easier to get accepted,” Garth said about her reason behind completing the cosmetology program.  “I didn’t really have any goals before.  But then DPS offered it for free and I didn’t want to miss out on that opportunity,” Johnson expressed about the cosmetology program.  The two girls plan to provide their hair stylist expertise for free to other workers at Bethel.

9The program teaches students how to do hair, skin, and nails.  The class also provided students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to prepare a model for a Hunger Games inspired photoshoot that was featured in Jute Magazine.  Roughly 24 students were selected to participate.  Garth and Johnson had their own model, responsible for preparing the model’s hair, makeup, and nails.  “We had a lot of ideas in the beginning and then just combined them,” Johnson said, taking parts that they liked from each Hunger Games character.  “To be able to have our names published in a magazine was so good and to be able to put it on a resume,” Garth said.  See their model in Jute Magazine on page 111 of the March Part 2 Issue.

While both truly enjoy their work in cosmetology, the two primarily plan to pursue this career as a way to supplement their income while focusing on their true passion of religious volunteering.  “I want to support myself mainly just so I can continue to volunteer,” Johnson said.

If we look inside an industry that may be described sometimes as superficial, there are people doing things that are anything but vain.  For Johnson and Garth, behind the hair, the nails, and the makeup, there is a message.  And it’s “good news.”7