Helen LeDonne “It’s been a tough road, but you take the positives and leave the negatives behind, because they’ll bring you down.”

“I’m planning on retiring from SMC after putting lots of years in,” says Helen LeDonne, a newly appointed instructor in Cosmetology. “I feel so lucky to be teaching here, and many of the students don’t know how lucky they are,” she says. “To get an AA in Cosmetology was unheard of when I went to school. Then, you only got a license. But at SMC, you just have to add in a couple of extra units and – voila! – you’ve got your AA degree.”

Helen says that her own degree has opened doors of opportunity for her that she never expected. “I’m very fortunate in being able to do two of the things that I love: doing hair in a salon and teaching cosmetology,” she says. With three children to support on her own, Helen reports that her own education is one of the most important things that’s happened in her life. “After my husband was gone, one of the first things I did was to go back and finish my degree. I just ran with the education, because there was no one to hold me back.” And the importance of education has Helen focused like a laser on the needs of her SMC students.

“I enjoy doing hair because it keeps me up with what’s current. And it’s a challenge, because I need to stay one step ahead of the students,” she says. “Bacteriology, sanitation, chemistry, electricity, and anatomy are all integral parts of this field – people don’t have a clue how demanding it all is. But if you come to SMC,” she adds, “you’re going to find a lot of interesting people to study with, and a lot of instructors willing to go that extra mile. Then it’s on to film and TV, salons, ‘repping’ cosmetics: The sky’s the limit!”

SMC Cosmetology Professor Helen LeDonne began full-time at SMC in Fall ’99. Welcome!

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.