PAC cosmetology grads find success

October 2, 2017

Public Relations

The cosmetology program at Palo Alto College, which launched in Spring 2015, recently graduated its first two-year cohort of students in May 2017, where 17 students crossed the stage with an Associate of Applied Science in Cosmetology. 

“I’m the first one in my family, the first of my siblings to get a college degree,” said Dario Cruz, one of the recent graduates. “I was really, really proud of myself walking that stage and getting that degree.”

Cruz said in addition to receiving his associate degree, the cosmetology program thoroughly prepared him for the practical exam to earn his cosmetology license. The faculty provided quality teaching and guidance, but they also connected him with his first job at TONI&GUY Hair Salon, where he is currently a manager. 

“If it wasn’t for [the cosmetology faculty], I probably wouldn’t be where I’m at now,” said Cruz.

Palo Alto College is the only public college in the Bexar County region to offer an accredited cosmetology program in which students can not only earn certifications, but also an Associate of Applied Science that is transferable to other colleges and universities. Dolores Zapata-Caballero, interim academic director of cosmetology, said that employment in the beauty industry is increasing, and the program teaches students skills and techniques to become successful cosmetologists or estheticians. Graduates are able to take their skills into their careers and entrepreneurial endeavors. 

In addition to education in the classroom, cosmetology students practice their skills using mannequins and, eventually, visitors to the Cosmetology Learning Studio, located in San Jacinto 224. The Learning Studio offers a variety of hair, skin, and nail services at a reduced rate while allowing students to gain real-world experience under the guidance of their certified faculty. 

The cost to attend the program is significantly less than proprietary schools in and around Bexar County. Students save approximately 65 percent on tuition, something that Cruz says benefitted him during school and post-graduation.

“Financial aid helped me a lot,” said Cruz. “The program really saved me because now I don’t have debt.” 

There are currently 58 students enrolled in daytime and evening cosmetology classes, and 17 are on track to graduate in spring 2018. Zapata-Caballero said they are anticipating growing the program with additional students and expanding number of people they serve through the Cosmetology Learning Studio.

“I look forward to the next year because we can only continue to grow and improve,” said Zapata-Caballero, adding that she and the faculty look forward to “really mentoring our students so that they come back and contribute to their community.”

Individuals interested in the beauty and wellness industry are encouraged to apply for the fall 2018 semester. Students can contact the BOLD Advising Center at (210) 486-3366 to speak with an academic advisor, or visit for more information.

For a list of services provided at the Cosmetology Learning Studio or to schedule an appointment, visit