When it comes to veterans in the beauty space, few come more seasoned than Debra Wirtz! She’s been in the beauty industry for 48 years, so she brings mountains of experience to our school. She currently works as a director for both of the Elite Academy of Cosmetology campuses, with most of her time focused on our larger location in Lawton. Her wealth of knowledge and passion for learning are just part of why she makes such a huge impact at our schools!
One Bad Haircut to Start it All
Debra remembers the specific haircut that motivated her to enroll in cosmetology. She was fresh out of high school and stopped into a salon for a cut. She should have known better than to get a cut from this stylist because she showed up in slippers! The final result was so bad that Debra felt inspired to enroll in cosmetology school right away. She felt that nobody should have to feel how she did, and she wanted to help people feel their best, so cosmetology was the perfect fit for her.
Debra graduated from her cosmetology program a short time later in 1970, and worked as a stylist for the following nine years in Lawton, Oklahoma. She then moved with her husband to Louisiana in 1979 where she continued to flourish in her career. She taught beauty school, owned her own salons, a beauty supply store, and served as part of the local hair association. Beauty was never just a career for Debra, for her it is a way of life!
Returning Home to Lawton
Debra finally returned to Lawton in 2001 to live on a farm and retire with her husband. After only six months, she had grown tired of all the cows and trees and wanted to be working with people again! In 2002 she joined us at Elite Academy of Cosmetology and has been with us ever since!
Debra is an excellent model for her students as an educator and director because of her constant interest in learning.
”The learning never stops. I learn things from my students all the time! They are constantly showing me things on YouTube or a video their friend shares and I’ll say, ‘Wow, that’s cool!’ Just because I’ve been in the business this long doesn’t mean I know everything. It’s what keeps cosmetology from being boring; the industry is constantly new and changing.”
Debra’s fresh attitude and youthful excitement for learning is a big part of why she’s such a great mentor with our students. She absolutely loves the human connection that comes with her role, and she never tires of helping her students. For her, being a beauty school instructor isn’t about the hair, it’s about watching dreams and talents grow. It’s amazing to watch students develop their careers and show off what they can do!
Advice For Future Students
When asked about advice she would give to students who are considering a career in cosmetology, her response was emphatic:
”Don’t wait, do it now! Beauty school is the most amazing thing you can do for yourself. Procrastination is part of all of us, so don’t wait. Somebody is waiting for you to do their hair, and to be a part of their life is a very special gift.“
Debra continued to explain that you never know who is going to walk through your door and sit in your chair. She says she distinctly remembers a woman that came in about three years ago that left an impression. Debra asked the woman how she was doing, and her answer was hesitant, saying that she was okay. Debra continued to talk to her and found out that the woman had lost two of her sons within the past month, and that even though times were hard, Debra got to help that woman to have a better day.
”You never know what the people in your seat are going to share, but when they open up as a friend, that’s just amazing. We touch a lot of lives.”
Debra is a great example of how cosmetologists aren’t just hair stylists, but they are professionals that can make other people feel happy and better about themselves.
Learn With Debra Wirtz
Beauty school can be a challenging decision for some people, but if you have a passion for beauty, you can absolutely transform your life! Like Debra admonishes, don’t delay! We have programs in cosmetology, esthetics, barbering, and nails to meet your needs. Contact us to learn more about our programs and what you can learn!