The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Beautifying the soul

Cosmetology instructor Marcia Bonawitz prepares her students for the trials and tribulations of working in real-world salons. Photo by || R. Hanna || [email protected]

When you walk into the cosmetology department at City College, you feel like you’ve gone to salon heaven. The smell of hairspray fills the air. Dozens of women in scrubs stand at counters with hair mannequins. Perhaps they are learning how to set patterns for pin curls or perfecting their French twists.

This is where City College cosmetology professor Marcia Bonawitz—with her vibrant red hair and sunny disposition—acts like a modern-day fairy godmother, working her magic to help others “maintain a certain level” of attractiveness, while also sharing her talent for hairdressing and beauty with her students.

“I’ve always had a passion for both the industry and teaching as well,” Bonawitz says.

Bonawitz, 66, has worked in the cosmetology industry for 40-plus years. She went to the Federico Beauty Institute directly after high school and has since worked at almost every Sacramento-area private beauty school. She holds a Bachelor of Science in workshop education from Southern Illinois University and is working toward her master’s degree at Sacramento State  University.

From a young age, Bonawitz says she seemed to be drawn to teaching.

“I’ve always loved teaching,” Bonawitz says. “I even remember as a child I had two younger sisters, and I always set them down and helped them with their math and their English. I did a class for both of them because they were very close in age.”

With her love of helping others learn and a family full of hairdressers, it only seemed natural for Bonawitz to become a cosmetology professor. It was her hairdresser, Aunt Helen, who “put the bug in [my] mother’s ear” and convinced Bonawitz to go to beauty school.

I talked to both [my mother and my aunt], and they both were excited about it. I think it was because [my mother] wanted someone to be able to do her hair,” Bonawitz says. “She’s 95 and I still do her hair every week. I do her perm, help her with her makeup and do her hair. She was my inspiration.”

Over the course of her career, cosmetology has grown from a passion for Bonawitz to a way she helps and serves fellow women.
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“In today’s world, it seems like everyone has to work now and women are working more than ever before,” Bonawitz says. “In order to maintain a certain level you have to look attractive. You have to look presentable every day.”

According to Bonawitz, one way to achieve attractiveness is through manicures and pedicures, something she knows a great deal about since she is the instructor of the Nail Technology class at City College.

“Women who had horrible hands can get beautiful hands with artificial nails,” Bonawitz says. “It’s very fascinating. There are so many different techniques. [Artificial nails] really have come a long way.”

Misa Sakaoka-Abenes, who once took Bonawitz’s nail tech course, praises Bonawitz not only for her extensive knowledge in cosmetology, but also her kindness as an educator and person.

“She got me through my nail tech course. She was just very nurturing, very caring,” Sakaoka-Abenes says. “She actually wants to see us succeed and I love that more than anything.”

As a colleague of Bonawitz, cosmetology professor Fran Handy says she received the same care and support.

“I went through a very traumatic time in my life, and she was very, very supportive,” Handy says. “I do believe with that support it helped me get through it.”

Bonawitz doesn’t just beautify women’s hair, nails and skin. She also beautifies their lives. Bonawitz is inspiring a whole new generation of cosmetologists, just like her Aunt Helen did for her.

“I love her. Because of Ms. Marcia I want to be a cosmetology professor here at Sac City College,” Sakaoka-Abenes says. “I’ll be back here in 10 years. I can guarantee it.”

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