- Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
Phetmany Phommasing arrived in Lynn, Massachusetts, when she was just three months old, the daughter of refugees from Laos. Now, as an adult living in Dracut, and with the support of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), her family, and her instructors at the Chelmsford Beauty Academy, she’s not just an esthetician; she’s a small business owner.
Phetmany was a stay-at-home mom, caring for her two children and wanted something more. With the support of her family, she began to investigate what she would need to do to work as an esthetician specializing in lashes. While attending the Chelmsford Beauty Academy, one of her instructors saw that she was having trouble with some of the work and suggested she reach out to MRC to see if there was anything the agency could do to help her.
“She described herself as scatter-brained and had faced challenges with anxiety and an inability to focus,” said Sam Khoeun, a vocational rehabilitation counselor for MRC’s Lowell’s office assigned to her case in 2019. “She was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) in middle school,” Sam shared. After having Phetmany meet with a doctor and update her diagnosis, Sam was able to find resources to help her thrive in her classwork and stay focused while studying for her statewide licensing exam.
However, the pandemic slowed down the process. In March 2020, she was about to begin her coursework when COVID-19 shut everything down. As schools reopened in the fall, Sam called Phetmany and asked her when she could start. Her answer? “I can start now.” Looking back on it, she adds, “I was ready to learn and get my license.”
MRC was able to provide financial aid for her to help pay for her books and the skills training at Chelmsford Beauty Academy. Working with the academy, Sam found ways for Phetmany to maximize all the resources they could provide for her, including extra training and 1-on-1 practice. “Sam pointed me in the direction to get help,” she shared. The trainer was able to help her focus on the test elements by rewording concepts in a way that she could understand. Along with the aid she received from her teachers and MRC, Phetmany is also thankful to her family for encouraging her and being able to provide support. “There’s that saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ Well, for me, it took a village to help me achieve my goal.”
“I was so scared because I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. But I took that leap of faith and saw what it was all about. And I’m very thankful for it. When I was introduced to MRC, I didn’t know what it was, but I was going to try it. I was going to go for it,” she said. “Now, with their help and support, I have confidence in my abilities.” MRC gave her the opportunity, but she added, “It was up to me to pass the state licensing board. Since then, I’ve been able to work as a lash artist and even started my own business, Wink Lash Lounge.”
For Phetmany, her partnership with MRC and Sam couldn’t have been better. “Sam wasn’t pressuring, but he was always there to give me a little encouragement,” she remembers. “It was never, ‘I don’t want to answer his phone calls.’ I looked forward to them because he was a pleasure to talk to and had my best interests in mind. We always communicated well. I’m very thankful for his and MRC’s help to help me achieve my goals.”
Now, she wants to help others who might feel intimidated about asking for help. “I want to help other people out there because I know how hard it can be,” she said. “Don’t be afraid not to take that step of getting help. If there’s an opportunity for you to go to school or pursue your dreams, take it. I know because I was able to do it, and I’m confident now. Take baby steps. It’s the baby steps that will help you achieve your goals. My baby step was calling Sam.”