GateWay Beauty and Wellness Programs Show Resilience, Resume In-Person Instruction

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Just three months ago, GateWay Community College interim program manager Aimee Blackman woke up early Saturday morning to a startling text message; a monsoon from the night before had flooded part of GateWay’s Deer Valley campus. Fortunately, the incident only left the building with a mess to clean up, but for Blackman, it left her beauty and wellness programs temporarily without a home.

"My first concern was for our students who were currently enrolled in one of our programs," said Blackman. "We are such a student-focused hands-on program; I just wanted to make sure we helped them be successful."

Within hours, a team of employees from different departments met to discuss the incident and prepare for future needs. The programs, consisting of Massage Therapy, Cosmetology, Aesthetician, Nail Technician, and high school EMT, all had active cohorts of students in the middle of their programs. Unfortunately, the damage from the storm was extensive enough they would need to relocate them to other facilities temporarily. But, Blackman was up for the challenge.

"Our college is truly a community that cares for our students," said Blackman. "So many employees worked tirelessly around the clock, all with the same goal; get our students back in the classroom."

While the programs continued in an online format, some found immediate homes at other locations. The Massage Therapy program moved to its other home at SouthWest Skill Center, and the high school EMT program moved to one of the college's sister campuses. This month, the final beauty and wellness programs celebrated moving into their new home at GateWay's Central City Campus.

"This was an amazing college-wide effort," said Dr. Amy Diaz, interim president at GateWay. "We have five locations around the valley, and every one of them stepped in to see where they could help. We truly are a community."

The program's existing cohorts will finish up their programs in January, and new beauty and wellness programs are scheduled to start in January at the Central City campus. With a brand new home and a resilient leader, space is sure to fill up fast.

"These programs are incredibly popular, affordable, and produce workforce-ready graduates," said Blackman. "I'm excited to see them fill up again."

For information about the beauty and wellness programs at GateWay Community College, visit gatewaycc.edu/programs.

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