Mature student fulfills lifelong hairstyling passion and graduates top of class

Ever since she was young, Deone Hamilton, alumna of Georgian’s Hairstyling diploma program, always had a passion for styling hair. Before coming to Georgian, Deone worked as a Registered Nurse and a Registered Massage Therapist, but decided it was time for something different. Now, at 52 years old, she took a chance to follow her dream of becoming a hairstylist.

As a mature student, Deone was worried about how she’d adjust to being back in a school environment. Despite this, she worked hard to become top of her graduating class and received the prestigious Governor General’s Medal at Georgian’s fall 2023 convocation ceremony. Each year, the Governor General of Canada provides one medal to each college in Ontario. This medal is awarded to the Georgian College graduate of a postsecondary diploma program who has achieved the highest overall academic average.

We spoke with Deone to learn more about her decision to come back to school to explore a new career path, and what it meant for her to graduate with the highest average in the college.

Why did you decide to enrol in the Hairstyling program at Georgian?

I’m a registered nurse and was working in palliative care; I found myself burning out from the demand during the pandemic. I kept checking the Georgian website and looking at the hairstyling program and decided to go for it! Doing hair has always been something that I dabbled in since I was a small girl. I have three sisters and have always tried different hairstyles on them. My parents would leave me babysitting and come home to my sisters having new bob cuts! I wanted to pursue this lifelong passion.

A woman with blonde hair takes a selfie in a mirror with a mannequin head while she styles its hair in a hair salon.
Deone has always loved styling hair and the program at Georgian offered her lots of hands-on learning opportunities.

Can you share more about your previous careers and your decision to come back to school?

First, as a massage therapist, I was working with clients who were pregnant and then I became a doula. I went in with patients during labour, and I decided by watching the nurses that I wanted to become a nurse. My role as a nurse evolved into doing palliative care which I also loved. I’ve just recently done the refresher course as well to get my registration back with the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario. I’ve always enjoyed learning new things and that prompted me to go back to school to pursue hairstyling.

What did you like most about Georgian’s Hairstyling program?

I loved the practical aspect of the program. The hands-on learning and instruction were amazing! The program at Georgian gave me a great base to excel as an apprentice.

Why are you passionate about hairstyling and what do you enjoy most about the profession?

I’m passionate about hairstyling because of the creativity that you can have with hair and making people feel good about themselves. I enjoy meeting and talking with new people and hearing about their lives. The hairstyling industry is full of continuous learning as styles and trends change constantly, and I love learning new things!

What does it mean for you to win the Governor General’s Medal?

Winning the Governor General’s Medal made me feel immense pride, as I worked and studied hard throughout the program. When my professor Rena called to tell me, I had tears of joy, pride and gratitude! My overall average was 97.57 per cent.

I’m also so grateful to have the support of my two daughters and husband of 27 years as I went on this new journey.

A woman with blonde hair wears a blue graduation gown and stands next to a sign that says "#GeorgianProud" and she holds a certificate and a medal.
Deone graduated with an overall academic average of 97.57 per cent, winning her the Governor General’s Medal.

What’s next for you now that you’ve graduated?

I’m currently doing an apprenticeship at Connect Hair Studio in Barrie and as I mentioned, I recently got my registration back as an RMT and will be practising part time for both. I’m keeping my nursing registration but I’m not sure if I will pursue a casual nursing position in the future.

Any advice for future students who want to pursue hairstyling, or go back to school later in life?

My advice to future students is to take this program at Georgian and to ask as many questions as you can because the instructors are so knowledgeable. Also, practise, practise, practise! As a mature student going back to school, it’s a bit daunting being with younger people, but they’re so gracious and accepting and it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed every minute of it!

Thinking about going back to school? Interested in learning more about Georgian? RSVP to our Virtual Open House, happening on Jan. 27, 2024! Discover what Georgian has to offer from the comfort of your home and see if it’s the right fit for you.

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