This is a portion of the weekly Superintendent’s Update by Cliff Chuang mailed to Bedford Public School community on Friday, Feb. 2. Please find this week’s full issue of Superintendent’s Update and back issues at bedfordps.org.
Note: This is part of an ongoing series of features sharing the stories of BPS alums, taking us into and out of Black History Month in February, highlighted on this BPS Black Excellence Site put together by Lisa Morrison, JGMS STEM teacher.
Dominique Mitchell – Class of 2008
My name is Dominique Mitchell and I am a Boston native. Born and raised in Roxbury, I was always involved in sports. My siblings and I were heavily involved in basketball from the No Books, No Ball program at the Roxbury YMCA to playing AAU for the Lady Dolphins.
I entered the METCO program during my freshman year of high school. Previously being a middle school Charter school student and coming into the METCO program in high school, I felt like I was already behind. My peers had already created bonds and experiences with one another since elementary and middle school. Although I was a new student, I still was excited for this new start.
I attended Bedford High School from my freshman year to junior year and transferred to Oliver Ames High School my senior year, graduating in 2008. I struggled in the classroom and my grades always reflected it. I look back now and know I struggled with meeting a lot of the standards and expectations that were held for students, especially the METCO students.
When I transferred to Oliver Ames, it felt like I was being given another opportunity to start all over. I took it. I went from being a C/D student to getting A/Bs in classes that I thrived in, such as web design. There, I embraced my uniqueness.
I was the new kid again and didn’t have much to focus on my work. I never really had a plan for what I wanted to do after high school. It wasn’t until my advisor sat me down to go over my transcripts from Bedford High. She was very concerned about my future as my grades from my last three years did not reflect where I was currently as a student. She suggested I look into community colleges or even junior colleges.
I applied to a handful of local schools, but was not accepted into any because of my grades. I applied to Dean College that was, at the time, a junior college to prepare me to transfer to a four-year school. I was accepted.
I attended Dean College in Franklin, MA, and graduated in 2010 with my associates degree in Business Technology. College allowed me to dream bigger, nurture my independence, form long-lasting friendships, and make many mistakes while being supported by the community.
College is where I was able to really discover what I wanted to do and how I wanted to show up in the world. This is where I decided to follow my heart and go to cosmetology school after I graduated. I did hair my whole life on and off, but was always told it was something that couldn’t help me sustain my life in the real world. It was always drilled into me for it to be a backup plan or side hustle.
In 2010, I attended Paul Mitchell, the school in Cranston, Rhode Island. There, I discovered my love for hair and being an artist. Hair is truly an art that allows you to discover and express yourself as boldly or subtly as you want.
As I was deeply introverted and shy growing up, I found myself opening up more. Excited that I found something in which I was skilled, I saw the potential for my own growth in the field.
Cosmetology school was the beginning of my own journey of confidence, self-discovery, and purpose. Attending PMTSRI exposed me to so many opportunities outside of just doing hair behind the chair. For example, I never thought about being a hairstylist for Broadway or on a movie set. I never had the courage to dream that big. There were so many different avenues you could take your career as a hairstylist and I would have not known that if I hadn’t gone to cosmetology school.
My dream was to be a freelance hairstylist, travel the world, and do hair for editorial, and platform (hair shows). Attending my first hair show in Las Vegas was life-changing and there, I knew this had to be what I did.
I started to talk to whomever I needed to get connections and be a part of this work. To make a name for myself, it was important I started to build my portfolio so I could present it to a big agency in New York or California, and live out my dream of working for the biggest names. Unfortunately, that dream wasn’t meant to be.
I decided if freelance work couldn’t work, I would be okay with doing hair in a salon. Finally, after about two years of trying, I got my first salon assistant job. From there, I worked my way up and built my skills in three different salons until I became a salon owner myself in 2015.
At the age of 25 years old, I had my own growing clientele and business. This was not at all in my plans, but I’m happy I didn’t allow my limiting ideas to stop me from getting there.
From 2015 to 2022, I put my heart and soul into my salon, DMA by Dominique Mitchell. My passion for hair and education came together so effortlessly. My focus was to, if I could, always have my clients leave my salon better than when they came. I wanted to give them a different experience than what I was used to growing up in the city going to our local hair salons.
I started to understand that a lot of women lacked the education and support when it came to taking care of their hair. I also noticed how our self-worth and confidence were tied to our hair. How when a woman is confident about her hair, she is confident about her whole self and is eager to invest more into her life.
As a hairstylist, I saw my purpose was to bring in the practice of mind, body, and spirit. To help connect clients to a deeper understanding and relationship with their hair, they would need to start with connecting with themselves.
Around 2018, I became a reiki practitioner and there, my journey for holistic wellness started. I started my second business – Ascended Sacred Healing – and started offering energy work, sound bath classes, and intuitive guidance readings. My spiritual gifts came online years prior and I was finally embracing them.
Doing my own healing work, I found a love for herbal plant medicine and regenerative farming. My lens of life was expanding rapidly and I started to yarn for deeper fulfillment. I was also fighting extreme burnout from doing hair. Although I was still showing up and giving my clients what they needed, I was starting to feel empty. So after seven years of business and 12 years of being a professional hair stylist, I closed up my shop and took a two-month road trip across the country. I followed my heart to do and be wherever the journey took me.
Leaning into my holistic and wellness business now is my new path – helping people come home to themselves by calling back their own power and remembering who they are. Although my life did not go as planned I am grateful I am open and present for the greater plan unfolding for me today.