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School Creates Relay For Life Team in Ms. Susan’s Honor

May ’13

Susan Turner was well known around Salon Success Academy for her selflessness; for doing whatever it took to insure the students were happy and finishing their education. She devoted her life to Salon Success Academy before she passed away in June of 2012. Now the students and staff at the school are trying to raise as much money as possible for the “Cut out Cancer with Salon Success Academy” Relay for Life team in honor of their beloved Ms. Susan.

Ms. Susan at the Relay For Life in 2010

Susan was instrumental in creating the school’s first Relay for Life team in 2009. Heather Kilgore, who was a cosmetology student at the Upland campus at the time, approached Susan about getting the school to support her family’s relay team.  Susan helped the Salon Success Academy Student Ambassadors organize fundraisers to raise money and attended every team meeting.

“When I was in school, I was struggling with food for my family. Ms. Susan would check on me every day to make sure I had something to eat. If I didn’t, she would buy me lunch. She bent over backwards for me,” Heather said.

It was a similar story with Ryan Ledbetter and his wife, who met each other when they were students together at Salon Success Academy. Ryan suffered from ADHD, so while he was excelling at the cosmetology material, he would become restless in class and often times get into trouble. Ms. Susan fought hard to keep Ryan in school, putting him to work in the corporate office to keep him busy. He began helping Ms. Susan with school tours and new student orientations, something that would later lead to the creation of the Student Ambassador Program.

“Ms. Susan was someone I could always talk to. She always knew the right thing to say to me,” Ryan said. “Ms. Susan was a big part of everything I love about my life. If I didn’t know her, I wouldn’t have my wife, my child, or my career.”

Susan was always passionate about cosmetology and education. She enrolled in a cosmetology Regional Occupational Program (ROP) in high school and continued on to cosmetology school after graduation. Once she got her license, she began working behind the chair at a local salon and as a cosmetology instructor. In 1988, Susan obtained her teaching credentials from UCLA and started working for Salon Success Academy. She was quickly promoted to director of the Rancho Cucamonga campus before being appointed Director of Operations for the corporate office.

Christina, Susan and April

Susan’s two sisters, Christina and April, also work in the Salon Success Academy corporate office. The women said working together was never a problem; the experience actually brought them closer together. They had a deep respect for their sister and boss and always tried to follow her example.

“Salon Success Academy was more than just work to us. It was a huge part of our lives. Everything we did, we did together. She’s left a big hole in our lives that no one can fill,” Christina Belcher said.

“Susan had this way of making everyone around her feel special. She was the most giving person on the planet. It didn’t matter if you were a stranger. If you needed something, she would give it to you out of her pocket,” April said.

Last year, Susan was unable to attend the Relay for Life in Rancho Cucamonga because she was suffering from intense back pain. However, she still helped organize the students’ fundraising efforts from home. The day of the relay she called her sisters every hour to get an update on the amount of money the team raised. Susan later learned that her back pain was actually uterine cancer. She passed away just a few weeks later on June 21, 2012.

Susan and Bob Gross“Susan dedicated her life to Salon Success Academy. She was the person who shaped this school into the ‘people helping company’ that it is today. We were lucky to have her and we want to do everything possible to honor her memory,” Salon Success Academy owner Bob Gross said.

The “Cut out Cancer with Salon Success Academy” Relay for Life team is trying to raise $5,000 in Susan Turner’s honor. Bob Gross has pledged that the school will match the amount of money the team raises. The Relay for Life is a day-long event at Guasti Regional Park in Rancho Cucamonga on June 1, 2013. All of the money raised goes to the American Cancer Society to provide funding for cancer research and cancer treatment.


About Salon Success Academies

Salon Success Academy offers five locations in California’s Inland Empire, in Redlands, Fontana, Upland, San Bernardino, and Corona. Our mission at SSA involves caring for every student as a member of our family, furnishing the chance to finish their educational objectives as affordably as possible. SSA incorporates first-hand, real-world practice of the principles of cosmetology, skin care, and nail artistry. The campus teams with members of the beauty industry to educate our graduates on the technical and customer service skills they need to succeed in their careers.

For more information go to www.gotobeautyschool.com or call 1-877-987-HAIR (4247).



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Our mission is to equip our students with the tools necessary to succeed in the beauty industry by providing exceptional technical education in the classroom and servicing our local communities. The training our students receive will enable them to successfully attain employment in the beauty industry and related fields.

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