From about 15 September until about 20 December of each year is a time of mixed feels and emotions for me.  Personally, I am a Christmas nut.  There’s something about the lights and the carols and the tree (which has become “trees” in the plural when my partner and I moved house way back in 2005, much to his dismay) that I love.  I think if Jacqui hears me humming or singing “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” one more time from about 1 November onwards, she will smack me.

As I’m typing this, though, at work, we are going through an amazing yet difficult time of year.

I have a folder of international exam applications on my desk.  Jacqui’s handed me a list with 2009 students on it a few moments ago; on it, the heading states, “Please write your name as you want it to appear on your diploma.”  It’s frightening because it seems like only yesterday when this intake started in February 2009.

As I enter students’ names into the CIDESCO or ITEC database for examinations, memories flood my mind.  Maybe the first time I read a certain student’s essay, or how excited I was that another student was going on a cruise for her honeymoon (her first cruise).  And it makes me sad to think that in, what will seem like a flash, I’ll be presenting the freshly-printed diplomas bearing their names to Noel and Don for them to sign, and, then only a matter of hours later, dressed up and in front of hundreds, reading out their names so they can, outfitted not in their everyday uniforms but in glamourous evening dresses, receive their diplomas that they worked so hard for throughout the year.

It is a truly sad but exciting time.  You see, we’ve taken a journey with these students, them and us together. We’ve helped lead them to their future career, and, once finished with us, we’re not going to see them every day.  All the good times will be only memories.  Sure, we see lots of our graduates again, but we never have that intense day-to-day interaction we’ve had with them as we had before.  The only thing I can liken it to is having dozens of cousins or daughters heading off into the big, bad world after deciding they want to move out of their parents’ place and face the world on their own.

But the experience repeats.  Like I said, it seems like only yesterday that we received their applications, interviewed those students, but the process is starting again.  We’re receiving 2010 applications.  Jacqui and I are gearing up to interview prospective students for 2010.  A new lot of faces will line these halls come February, and by late September, I’ll be back at square one with mixed feelings.

Once you are a student at the National School of Aesthetics, you join a family of thousands of others who have walked these halls, learned this knowledge, faced these assessments in the years before you.  But, after you leave, we still remember you, enjoy hearing from you.  Even yesterday, I heard from a student we had back in 1999 and another student who graduated in 1998.  (They always say, “You might not remember me…” but I usually do!)  It’s still wonderful to know what’s going on in your world.

So, with the final trials and tribulations facing our February 2009 students in the coming weeks, culminating in the wonderful graduation ceremony and ball in December, and the first trials and tribulations facing our potential February 2010 students in the coming weeks, culminating in their orientation in February next year, it is a truly mixed-bag of emotions time-of-year.

Scott Fack is the Director of Operations for The National School of Aesthetics, the South Island’s leading beauty therapy, nail technology and spa therapies training provider.