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When Sherita Evans was 17 years old, she started cutting kids’ hair at a homeless shelter in Raleigh.
She wanted to help the younger children at the shelter who had fallen on hard times, because just like them, she also was living at the shelter.
Now, nearly 15 years later, Evans is back on her feet and returning to the passion she discovered as a teenager. She is enrolled in Edgecombe Community College’s new barbering program.
“I found out about the program through a friend,” Evans says. “I had never been to college; I dropped out of high school.
“I had my GED, and I applied in December, was accepted in January, and I started classes in March. It literally happened overnight.”
The barbering program came together quickly, too. College leaders began discussing adding it to the curriculum in summer 2011.
“We had students calling all the time asking if we had a barbering program,” explains Carolyn Sherrill, barber/cosmetology coordinator and a cosmetology instructor. “Some of them would enroll in the cosmetology program and find out that it really wasn’t what they wanted.”
After announcing that a barbering program was in the works, Edgecombe received about 100 inquiries in four months. Twenty students were accepted, and classes began the first week in March.
“Right now we are at maximum student capacity, but we hope that in the future, as our programs grow, we can enlarge the facility,” Sherrill says.
Edgecombe is one of two community colleges in North Carolina to offer both barbering and cosmetology programs at the same site. “Carteret Community College beat us by two weeks,” she notes.
Because barbering and cosmetology have two separate governing boards in North Carolina, classes for each cannot be held simultaneously in the same facility. At Edgecombe’s Rocky Mount campus, when day cosmetology classes end, evening barbering classes begin.
Barbering classes meet 4-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Students are trained in cutting hair, shaving, hair coloring, facial massages, and other barbering techniques and methods.
Graduates of the diploma program log more than 1,500 hours of college classes. Students who attend full time can complete the program in four semesters.
Although barbering is a predominately male field, Edgecombe’s first class has two women, including Evans.
“I think I’m a person who goes beyond stereotypes,” Evans says. “And I think barbering expands beyond clippers.
“I’m going to be the first person in my family to graduate from college. So, I say that whatever your passion is, have faith you can do it, and do it.”