DAVIE — Mercedes Osceola didn’t wear a cap and gown at her graduation March 4. Instead, she and 13 other cosmetology graduates of the Aveda Institute South Florida donned beautifully coifed hairstyles as they proudly received their diplomas.
Graduation wasn’t an easy achievement for Osceola, 28, who has five young children. During the 13-month program she often logged 50 hours a week at school. But even with her demanding schedule, when the children were sick and needed to see a doctor, she took them regardless of her cosmetology obligations.
“There were times I didn’t think I could do it,” Osceola said. “The best thing about graduation was seeing my kids there. They missed me, but it was worth it in the end to see how proud they were.”
All five children – Draven Osceola-Hahn, 8; Presleigh Osceola-Hahn, 7; Daveny Osceola-Hahn, 5; Dahlia Sanders, 4; and Vesper Sanders, 1 – sat quietly as their mother marked a milestone in her life.
“I’m just so happy for her. It’s the happiest day of my life,” Draven said.
Growing up, Osceola said she always loved styling hair and experimented on her sister.
“Now that I’m a cosmetologist, you can see how you can help someone’s confidence just by doing their hair,” she said.
Osceola said she chose Aveda because of its reputation. According to the school’s website, the cosmetology program incorporates theory with hands-on experience to provide students with an understanding of beauty, wellness, business development and client retention.
“Aveda is a prestigious place,” she said. “When people hear you went there, they want to hire you. They taught us a lot of skills that are great for the workplace and gave us a really good foundation.”
Osceola credits her classmates for helping her balance school and family responsibilities. She said they didn’t let her quit, and they empowered one another by acting as each other’s support system.
Inspiration came from Osceola’s hair stylist at the salon at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood’s Rock Spa who motivated her to pursue her dream and attend cosmetology school. Osceola hopes to ultimately own a salon, but first she will “earn her chair” at someone else’s place.
“She found something she liked and pursued it. I’m really happy she is here today graduating,” said Osceola’s friend Deidra Tigertail, who attended the graduation ceremony with fellow supporters Thomasine Motlow and Joni Josh.
Osceola is proud of her accomplishment and hard work.
“If you want it enough, you can achieve anything,” she said. “Nothing is going to be easy and it will always be a struggle, but if you want it you can make it happen.”