From school to high-end salon: Norwich Tech senior has an eye for style

Norwich Tech senior Samantha Dowd is seen Thursday, May 19, 2016.  (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Norwich Tech senior Samantha Dowd is seen Thursday, May 19, 2016. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

Samantha Nicole Dowd, who graduates June 16 from Norwich Technical High School, is ready to go to work at a high-end beauty salon or spa.

The 18-year-old Lebanon resident, formerly of Montville, has a state hairdressing license, an eye for style and a talent for understanding what customers want.

Susan Fox, head of Norwich Tech's hairdressing and cosmetology department, said any salon or spa would be lucky to have her.

"She has always had the most positive energy, kind nature and self-confidence since Day 1," Fox said during an interview at the school on May 19.

"She's always been creative, but now she's added extremely strong technical skills," Fox added.

Dowd stood at a hairdressing station, weaving extensions into her friend Ania Duhaime's hair and using a curling iron to pull together a long, elegant hair style.

They were practicing for prom, which was scheduled for the following night.

Dowd was dressed in a short skirt and a sweater embroidered with the cosmetology department's scissors logo and slip-on flat shoes.

Her own lipstick and eye makeup were perfectly applied, and Dowd wore her hair short and edgy.

Her look is subject to change, since she constantly practices on herself.

During her four years at Norwich Tech, Dowd has worn her hair in "every color of the rainbow" and nearly every cut imaginable, including long, in a bob and in a Mohawk.

Her clothing style has ranged from a vintage 1940s look to the current fashion.

"I always liked makeup and hair," Dowd said. "I figured the beauty industry was a good industry to be in."

As a young girl, she said she named her imaginary friends "Lipstick" and "Eye Makeup," and practiced cutting hair on her Barbie dolls.

She wore makeup as soon as her mother allowed it.

Students in the hairdressing and cosmetology program alternate between academic classes and shop, where they learn about hair, nails, skin care and makeup, practicing first on mannequins and each other before servicing clients from the community.

They take their state licensing exams during senior year and are ready to go to work in their field after graduation. 

Dowd and Duhaime worked together at a nail salon in Colchester at one point and Dowd, who loves children, also works at a day care center.

"You can tell by her touch that she knows what she's doing," Duhaime said as Dowd continued to perfect her friend's prom hair style.

Dowd lives with her mother, Christine Wright, a longtime bus driver for the Montville schools system, and her stepfather, Andrew Dowd. 

Her brother, Tyler, who graduated from Norwich Tech's heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) program, works at Electric Boat.

She also has a stepbrother, Ben Dowd.

At the high school, she has made a lot of friends and earned the admiration of faculty members.

"There is such a generosity of spirit with Sam," Krystin Konow, a school counselor and senior class advisor, said.

"She's a young woman with such maturity and awareness that each day is a gift," Konow said. "She does a lot of self-reflection in terms of who she is and where she's going."

k.florin@theday.com

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