Hair spray and dye lead to a bright future

Emily Utter poses for a picture on the third story balcony at Rancho Cucamonga High School.
Emily Utter poses for a picture on the third story balcony at Rancho Cucamonga High School.
Elika Seifi

She took the gloves off and put them aside. The fingerprints were stained with dye. Looking in the mirror, she saw the colored strands of hair framing her face. What she did not see at that time, looking in the mirror, was the amazing things the future had in store for her.

Emily Utter, a senior at Rancho Cucamonga High School, is a high-achiever who loves to learn and enrolls in the hardest classes at school. She is determined about the path she wants to take in the future and has progressed in it while in high school by participating in the Regional Occupational Program (ROP) for cosmetology.

Early on, she found an interest in cosmetology by coloring and dyeing her hair since she was in sixth grade. She also dyed her friends’ hair. 

Utter’s work with different shades of color, creating a unique hair color. ( on Instagram)

“Emily has always been artistic and that showed itself [in] many ways,” Ms. Jenna Salcedo-Utter, Utter’s mother and an English teacher at RCHS, said. 

This interest prompted Utter to take it up and continue doing her own and friends’ hair. 

“We researched the ROP and once she was in high school, we decided to have her pursue that [program],” Salcedo-Utter said.

She enrolled in ROP cosmetology for the first time in her junior year, intending to get a cosmetology license and open her own salon one day. Ms. Heather Landau, Activities Director and Utter’s AP Literature teacher shed light on Utter’s dedication. 

“She has been incredibly dedicated to the program and fitting in the time to work both on her ROP work and academic assignments,” Landau said. 

Utter has surmounted a lot towards her goal and completed the 1000-hour ROP program on November 16th. 

She pursued her goal in cosmetology all the while she was performing exceptionally in school. 

“She is dedicated to her academics and always puts them first,” Landau said.

Utter achieved the Superintendent’s Honor Roll in August of 2023, showcasing how she holds herself to high standards and wants to be successful. She claims that her ability to grasp complicated concepts and apply them to what the class went over was what helped her succeed and earn the award. 

I have a strong sense of responsibility to have my future self succeed.”

— Emily Utter, senior

“I have a strong sense of responsibility to have my future self succeed,” Utter said.

Utter enjoys delving deep into topics discussed at school. This characteristic made her appreciate how AP classes could provide her with great teachers, increase her knowledge, and challenge her simultaneously. 

“She is intelligent, deep-thinking, a gifted writer, and an excellent sharer in class,” Landau said. 

Utter has taken AP World History, AP United States History, and AP Language and Composition. She is determined to complete AP Calculus AB, AP African American Studies, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Government, and AP Macroeconomics for this year which is her senior year. 

Besides being described as motivated and intelligent, she has a personality that “puts people at ease,” Mr. Damien Spiteri, Utter’s chemistry teacher said. 

“Emily is very positive,” Spiteri said. “She brings such great energy and I believe this will continue to contribute to her success in life.”

The final result of Utter’s coloring and styling. ( on Instagram)

As Utter drives home from her cosmetology class, she recalls the events of the day. A day of setting up tools and doll heads and practicing the assignments on them has strengthened her skills. Hollywood curls, pinup curls, highlights, and lowlights include some of her assignments. Utter faces the variety of assignments with determination. 

In addition to practicals, which consist of hands-on experience such as cutting hair and doing makeup, Utter learns anatomy and chemicals related to this career through lectures.

With all she has on her plate, Utter doesn’t have much free time. Because of this, she makes the most out of her weekends.

Utter hasn’t taken the license exam yet. She spends the remaining hours of her days preparing for the exam by studying notes and the textbook, looking at mock tests, and testing herself.

“I hope to get an apprenticeship in a salon, [make] it into a prestigious college, and also [live] on campus,” Utter said. “I want to try and be close to my family and my boyfriend as well as to actually test for and get my cosmetology license.”

With all of her goals for the future and her current achievements, she continues to be a visionary. She wants to double major in business and nursing and become a regional or surgical nurse and a hairstylist. 

“I have no doubt that she will be very successful,” Spiteri said.

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    CharlotteJan 23, 2024 at 8:02 pm