Arkansas State University - Newport

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March 2019

#MyASUNstory: Raya Malone

At a young age, Raya Malone knew she wanted to become a Cosmetologist. While she got “off track” for a bit, Malone found her way back to getting her dream job.

“Literally like three years old, my grandma had this big nice recliner, and she had a blue crocheted blanket that laid on it,” Malone said. “She would be sitting up in it, watching television, and I’d stand behind her, my height was just up to the back of her head, and I would have these little cloth teeny tiny hair bows and I would put like a million in her hair.”

From putting on green Avon eyeshadow before church to always wanting to do her own hair for school, Malone said her passion for beauty and style was prevalent at a young age.

When Malone was in high school she knew wanted to go to Cosmetology school following graduation, but once she got her ACT scores back she felt obligated to go a more traditional route.

Malone completed her basics and graduated from a Practical Nursing program. She said she felt pressured to get to work so she worked a year as an LPN.

“I liked being a nurse, but whenever there is something you want to do more and more than that, you just can’t enjoy it,” Malone said. “I’m like, well let me look at this cosmetology school. I was literally at work searching cosmetology schools…I’m like this is no good…and Hunter, my husband, is like you’re doing the wrong thing. You’re not doing what you should be doing.”

While she was nervous of what people would think, Malone said she knew she had to go back to school. It wasn’t long after, she put in her two-week notice and applied to Arkansas State University-Newport’s Cosmetology program.

“I do feel like being a nurse before this has prepared me to be a better person, to be able to listen and to understand,” Malone said.

Malone is maintaining her nursing license and said she finds similarities in the two fields.

“When you’re a nurse you help people, and you feel good,” Malone said. “They say it is rewarding, and I feel like cosmetology is rewarding too.”

Malone said she knows she’s found her passion.

“I feel good whenever I make other people feel good,” Malone said. “And I always want to be the best I can be, and I felt like being a nurse wasn’t being the best person I could be because I wasn’t doing what I thought I could do best.”

Her dream is to own her own salon with a variety of services including haircuts, color, extensions, makeup application, spray tans and more.

As for any advice she would give to someone questioning their passion or career, Malone said go for it.

“If you’re happy doing something, no matter what anyone else says, then you should just do it,” Malone said.

For more information about ASU-Newport’s Cosmetology program click here.