Industry’s Top Students Attend PBA Beacon 2015

When Cynthia Valdez attended PBA Beacon several years ago, she never imagined that just a few years later, she would be a featured NAHA “Newcomer of the Year” finalist, much less sitting on the All-Star Success Panel at 2015 Beacon. “Beacon taught me the importance of networking and fueled my passion to keep learning,” she said. ”It was an experience that changed my life and shaped my career path.”

Beacon invites 300 of the nation’s most promising cosmetology students who earn the highest scores during the Beacon entry process to attend the live educational program during PBA Beauty Week hosted by Cosmoprof North America in Las Vegas, where they network and receive mentorship from some of the industry’s highest profile salon owners, professionals and stylists. The event proved to be inspiring and life-changing for many of the students who attended.

“It was the most eye-opening event I have ever been to,” said attendee Hope Grant-Herriot. “As a young hairdresser, it feels like our dreams are so out of reach, but after Beacon I have been so inspired to go after my dreams, knowing that they are possible. Having the opportunity to connect and build relationships with amazing people in the industry is an irreplaceable gift that the PBA awarded us and I couldn’t thank them enough.”


Enjoying this story? Subscribe to the American Salon Newsletter

Get inspirational trends, techniques, tips, education and the latest beauty news delivered right to your inbox! To read on the go, sign up today to get weekly beauty news and updates.

The entry process is designed to help guide the individual from student to salon professional, and entries were judged on creativity, professionalism and content of the professional portfolio. “Beacon is so motivating, because it really gives students the inspiration and guidance to become stars in the industry,” said Larry Curtis, founder of Taylor Andrews cosmetology school, who was also an educator and lead keynote speaker for the event.  “It’s an incredible platform for networking because you meet with the very best people in the industry.”

In addition to specialized classes, there was an All-Star Success Panel, which was led by Curtis. The panel featured incredible business leaders, NAHA winners, and other big names in the industry who answered questions that had been submitted by students, including Passionsquared’s Nina Kovner, DJ Riggs, Berry Bachen, Nicholas French, Dallan Flint, Lauren Moser, Rodrick Samuels, Phillip Wilson, Mary Wilson, Bonnie Conte, Dayne Cakebread, Chrystopher Benson, Todd Kane, Sherri Jessee, Steve Gomez, and Cynthia Valdez.

“PBA had 800 people apply for Beacon,” Curtis explained. “We had 100 chosen as winners and 200 as honorable mentions. Every March, I tell all of my schools about this incredible event in July, and I encourage students to enter it or at least go through the process. There are quite a few success stories of people who have gone through this and done wonderful things in their careers.”

For more information about next year’s Beacon 2016, which takes place July 23-25, visit

About: Beacon is part of PBA Beauty Week, North America’s largest, most inclusive beauty event, offering unlimited networking, education, and professional growth opportunities to all sectors of the beauty industry.