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Making Dreams Come True: Brandon’s Story

Posted by on October 17, 2017

Brandon with Woodbury student, Elizabeth Sanchez.

Minnesota School of Cosmetology invites Brandon, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder called trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome, to shadow students every other week at the Woodbury campus to learn more about the cosmetology industry.

Brandon first visited the campus as a client with his mother Natalie where he expressed his dream of becoming a cosmetologist. Brandon’s mom reached out to Minnesota School of Cosmetology’s Campus Director, Jill Hocking, and came up with the idea of allowing him to come to campus every other week to learn new skills from the students.

“I love fashion, doing hair, makeup and polishing nails,” said Brandon. “I’m really happy to be here!”

One employee who stopped by to say hello shared how happy he is when he is on campus. “He was just moving around the mannequin, blow drying like he was a famous hair stylist.”

Brandon’s Story:

Brandon’s genetic defect has caused him to have a cleft lip and palate, growth retardation, and he has had to have multiple surgeries to reconstruct his ear canals and he wears a hearing aid. He also had to get growth hormone shots for many years because he was not growing and was way under the normal percentile for his age. The doctors said Brandon would never talk, crawl or walk.

Brandon’s mom dedicated her life to him. According to Natalie, the doctors and social workers said that they thought she should give Brandon to foster care because he was not going to live long. It was at this exact moment in time, that his father walked out of the hospital and left her there alone.

“I told them no. I said that if Brandon was going to die he would die with me,” said Natalie. “I taught him how to crawl and also to walk. He has had many surgeries on his mouth and ears. On one occasion he stopped breathing when they were putting him to sleep and he almost died. He was in ICU for 2 weeks connected to multiple machines.”

“I’m very thankful to you guys for accepting him and making him feel so special. Sincerely, thank you!” said Brandon’s mom.

About Trisomy 18:

According to U.S. National Library of Medicine, trisomy 18, also called Edwards syndrome, is a chromosomal condition associated with abnormalities in many parts of the body. Individuals with trisomy 18 often have slow growth before birth (intrauterine growth retardation) and a low birth weight. Affected individuals may have heart defects and abnormalities of other organs that develop before birth. Other features of trisomy 18 include a small, abnormally shaped head; a small jaw and mouth; and clenched fists with overlapping fingers. Due to the presence of several life-threatening medical problems, many individuals with trisomy 18 die before birth or within their first month. Five to 10 percent of children with this condition live past their first year, and these children often have severe intellectual disability.

Connecting Community & Cosmetology: 

Minnesota School of Cosmetology is looking into having more aspiring community members with disabilities shadow students at our campus to learn more about the cosmetology industry. If you or someone you know is interested please contact Jill Hocking, campus director at

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