Alumni Spotlight: Dawn Burke Sena, Cosmetology

Dawn Burke Sena seated at restaurant dining table.Dawn Burke Sena, a 1978 EASTERN Cosmetology/Cheltenham High School graduate, took the communication, time management, and people skills from her education at EASTERN, and parlayed them into helping her family business, Burke Brothers Landscaping, and into a very successful career in the hospitality industry as co-owner of the Penn’s View Hotel and Panorama Wine Bar.

Sena selected the Cosmetology program in high school because she was always interested in fashion and enjoyed the glamour of dressing up and styling her hair. Her aunt was a hairdresser, and while growing up, she often went to the salon with her grandmother, and was fascinated with the process. While in high school, she knew a few other students who had attended the program and encouraged her to pursue it as well.Dawn Burke Sena standing at restaurant dining table.

Since graduating from EASTERN, Sena’s journey from cosmetology to hospitality has taken her from salon apprentice, junior stylist, stylist, receptionist, salon manager, to salon manager for a major hotel and casino, which she credits for piquing her interest in the hotel and restaurant industry. She went on to work for the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in the V.I.P. Services department, which then led her to working for the Four Seasons Hotel, until becoming her own boss. For the past 30 years she has enjoyed a career as co-owner of the Penn’s View Hotel & Panorama Wine Bar. Coming from a family in the skilled trades, she took a three-year hiatus from the hotel to work for her brothers who founded Burke Brothers Landscape Design in 1990. Sena’s youngest brother, Sean, was a 1985 graduate of EASTERN’s Automotive Technology program sadly passed away in 2016, however, the Burke family decided to honor his memory by sponsoring an annual award to an EASTERN Automotive Technology senior who will be continuing their education.

“The skills I learned in Cosmetology gave me the foundation and the pride of being a licensed professional,” said Cena. “Learning at an early age how to engage with the public has been a tool I’ve used in every job I’ve ever had. It opened doors I didn’t even know were there. The advice I would give any parent is, EASTERN is an amazing educational institution for a young person with endless opportunities. I didn’t know what ‘I wanted to be’ but I was curious about learning. College isn’t for everyone, similar to one size does not fit all. EASTERN gave me the opportunity to explore my talents only to be developed further in the real world. I came to realize as time went on that a skilled trade once learned, is a craft unique to the person beholding it.”

Save thousands of dollars by taking Cosmetology in high school! This two-year program will provide the skills necessary to begin a career in the cosmetology field. In Pennsylvania, as well as other states, cosmetologists must be licensed to practice in the field. For more information, please visit https://eastech.org/eastern-programs/cos/.

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