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Our Northern Lights: Danika McPherson

On , In College News, People & Culture, Programming, Students

Our Northern Lights is an initiative that illuminates our people, their stories, and celebrates their achievements. We hope that their journey will inspire others to pursue their dreams and make a difference in the world.

When the pandemic ended Danika McPherson’s job in Fort St. John, she decided it was time to go back to school, and it was the perfect opportunity for her to apply for the Hairstyle Foundation Certificate program at NLC.

“I found I really enjoyed experimenting on my own head, so I ended up looking through programs on the college website and I saw there was a hairdressing program and it kind of stuck with me. I decided to apply. I took the Canadian Adult Achievement Test (CAAT), and I ended up passing and I got in.”

After joining the program, Danika found she had a talent for vivids (super bright colours) and a passion for transformational hairstyles.

“The transformation is always the best. Once all the colours are rinsed out and their hair is dry and styled, turning them around to see it, you hear that gasp, it’s just awesome. It’s the best.”

But transformational colours are only part of Danika’s passion. When asked what her plans were for the future, Danika explained her dream of starting a mobile hair service, specifically for seniors or folks with disabilities who have a hard time getting to the salon.

“We used to hire people to do my grandmother’s hair, and I found out they were washing her head in the sink, and they didn’t have criminal record checks or vaccinations or anything like that. When you have people who are at risk – their safety both physically and their medical safety – is such a huge issue. Especially for folks who might be on chemotherapy or folks who are immunocompromised in general and just can’t get out to a salon as easily as other people.”

Knowing the risks and challenges facing those individuals, she knows what it would take to make self-care accessible for them.

“To be able to show up and say ‘here’s all my certifications. I’m going to take good care of you. Also, I have a mobile shampoo bowl so you can sit down and have your hair washed without being bent over your own kitchen sink.’ Ideally, I’ll be able to offer that at a relatively low price because a lot of those people are on a fixed income.”

Danika also won the top spot at the BC Regional Skills competition this past February and was able to go down to Abbotsford and complete in the provincial competition. Although she didn’t place in the provincials, she is still determined to continue her career path. Her next goals involve getting her Red Seal and finding a spot in a salon.  When asked about her future doing hair, she didn’t hesitate to express her joy and enthusiasm.

“The transformation is always the best. Once all the colours are rinsed out and their hair is dry and styled, turning them around to see it, you hear that gasp, it’s just awesome. It’s the best.”

“I’m very lucky that I’ve gotten a lot of really nice and interesting clients, and I just think that if these are the people I’m working with every day in the future, I’m not really gonna be having a job. I’m just gonna be having fun and doing people’s hair and having good conversations.”

To learn a bit more about Danika’s experience, read on:

What three words describe your NLC experience?

Informative. Calm. Community.

What would you tell another student if they were thinking of coming to NLC or into the Hairstyling program?

The instructor is fantastic and it’s a very local-minded college.

If you could go back to your first week of classes and give yourself advice, what would it be?

Relax, you will have a good time and learn more than you think.

Why did you choose your program?

I have a passion for working with people and I enjoy creating.

What do you see yourself doing in the next year? Next five?

Next five would be hopefully getting to my Red Seal. There’s a lot of hairdressers here in Dawson and a lot of them are only level 2. There aren’t a lot of Red Seal Hairdressers so I would love to get my Red Seal because then I can apprentice students coming out of the college as well.