When I was 7, I got my first dog and his name was Pookey. He was a yorkie. I fell in love with him. I took care of him, played with him and took him out for walks. I had him for ten years until, three years ago, he got sick and old and passed away. I keep his ashes in my room. After he died, my sister got me another dog and I named him Shylow. He’s 2 now and he reminds me of my old dog, but he’s just a little bigger. Both dogs led me to make new friends during walks to the park. Pookey and Shylow are the main reason I want to become a vet.

But there was a time when I didn’t care about anyone else. My parents separated when I was in 5th grade. Because I was upset, I missed so many days of school I had to go to summer school to catch up. They put me in a class where everyone spoke Spanish – except for me. It was a total waste. In the end, I had to repeat 5th grade. When I finally entered middle school, I was a year older than everybody else. I felt apart from everybody in my grade. Back then it made me angry. That was before I learned that my ability to set myself apart from others is actually the key to my inner strength. It took coming to Stamford Academy to completely work that out. Here, with teachers who care about me, I’ve come into my own. I’ve learned that when bad things happen, they will pass; nothing ever has to be permanent.

Permanent is an interesting word, especially when you’re as good at styling hair as I am.

Have you noticed few girls ever seem to like their hair just the way it is?

Including me, at first.

When I was younger, my naturally curly hair reached all the way down to my waist. My mother was very proud of showing it off. Me, not so much. Combing it, washing it, styling it was time-consuming. One day, about three years ago, I looked in the mirror and said to myself, “Know what? It’s my hair. I can do whatever I want with it. If it’s beautiful long, it’ll look just as beautiful short. So I got out my scissors and I cut it short, very short. I just loved how it turned out, and better still, whenever I need to go some place, I just go. No fuss, no muss, no bother.

My sister, on the other hand, dislikes her hair because it’s so tight and curly. So she’s always asking for a permanent to make it long and straight. Giving someone a perm is a big production. Here’s what we go through…

When I perm my little sister hair, I use ORS Straightening and Strengthening Treatment. First I mix the chemicals together to break down the hair’s outer surface.

Then I part her hair into four sections. Next, I put on gloves, apply the permanent solution to each section, and just work my way up. Then we wait 20-25 minutes. The chemicals make my sister’s scalp feel itchy and uncomfortable.

 And after that, it’s time to rinse away the solution, then give her a good shampoo and apply conditioner. After that, all that’s left to do is blow-dry her now straight hair. Yes, it’s called a permanent, but we both know it won’t last. In three months’ time, she’ll be enduring the itching and the stinging yet again.

A month ago, for the first time in three years I decided to start growing out my hair for graduation. I like to think my decision sums up how much I’ve learned about myself and how much I’ve grown. When you feel as centered and independent as I do, you realize that a lot of the sad and annoying stuff I used to fear was permanent has a lot to do with my outlook, sense of confidence… and, yes, how I (temporarily) decide to style my hair.

When I graduate from Stamford Academy, my first step will be to attend Marinello Beauty School. That will give me a source of income for when I’m ready to attend college. It will also give me the means to save up for my ultimate objective: Thanks to having Pookey and Shylow in my life, I plan to go to veterinary school.

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