By NECHELLE VENTURINI
“It’s all about passion; if you have it, you’ll always have it.”
Hairstyling professor Joseph Abbruscato brings passion and 22 years of industry experience to the Apprenticeship and Hairstyling Techniques program here. That’s evidenced by the gold medal he earned in September in the ABA’s Master Judges of Canada program.
Abbruscato began teaching after a shoulder injury left him off work for four months. “At that point I thought, ‘What if some day I could never do hair again?’ and that’s where I got into [teaching] it.”
“I used to teach in my salon, I love teaching,” he said. “It’s nice because I’m still involved in the industry and hopefully mentoring some of these students.”
Lily Meehan, a hairstyling techniques student, said he is one of the best teachers she’s had. “He always makes sure you understand, and if you don’t, he’ll work with you until you do.”
“He gets excited about hairstyling and this program. It’s one of the reasons he makes such an amazing teacher.”
In addition to teaching here the past five years, Abbruscato runs competitions out of the college with the school boards for the public, Catholic and French systems, stages a variety of hairstyling events with the college students, and gets his students involved in charity work.
Beyond the college Abbruscato is part of the Allied Beauty Association (ABA); a “not-for-profit organization that represents more than 90 per cent of the Canadian professional beauty supply industry, in respect to hair and nails.”
“The ABA is a beauty trade show that goes across Canada, where competitions are put on in each province,” said Abbruscato.
He has recently been awarded a gold medal in ABA’s Master Judges of Canada program this past September in Toronto.
The Master Judges Program is a “group of elite individuals who all have a common interest in elevating and shaping the quality of the industry.”
There are four classification levels [bronze, silver, gold and platinum] that are acquired through attending seminars and judging competitions.
Abbruscato began the Master Judges Program in 2001, receiving his first [silver] medal in 2005.
“It’s a pretty intense process,” said Abbruscato. “You can’t just show up and say, ‘I’m here,’ you have to be involved,” adding it takes three to four years to achieve each level.
Abbruscato became involved in the judging program when he was a competitor. He said he didn’t think he was placing as high as he should have been, and thought it would make him a better competitor.
“The judging makes you see things differently,” he said. “You see it from a broader perspective; a different view.”
He said it also gives him the skills to bring back to the classroom, and that’s huge.
“Because my eyes are trained, I get to hopefully train some of theirs [the students],” he said. “Not just for competitions but for every day work.”
Jeff Stewart, chair of hospitality, tourism and administration, said Abbruscato’s professional achievements are an asset to Niagara College and will be valuable to each student he trains for success in this exciting field.
“It doesn’t matter what field you’re in,” said Abbruscato. “You just have to love what you do.”