June 30, 2022, Submitted by Laura O’Neill
A standing-room-only graduation occurred Friday inside Malone Chapel at Pearl River Community College for students having completed the Barbering and Cosmetology programs. The room was filled with many family members and friends coming to celebrate their achievements.
Attendees were greeted by Senior Vice President for Instruction/Provost Dr. Martha Smith.
“From here on, your success is determined by the effort you put in to what you do,” said Smith. “Never stop learning; attend conferences and learn new skills.
“Remember what you learned about the Wildcat Way: Pride, Respect, Class, and Character. That is the foundation of who we are here at Pearl River.”
Tiffiany Perry, Owner of Hairitage Salon in Picayune, served as the designated speaker for the graduation ceremony. She shared both her connection with Instructor of Cosmetology Michelle Patterson, who worked at her business for several years in the 1990s, and words of advice for the graduates.
“Graduating from the program here is the single-most important thing you could have done to change your life,” said Perry. “There is something special about the client sitting in your chair. You become the person they trust and someone you can build a relationship with.”
She also warned against allowing the pursuit of income to consume their lives. “You can make thousands of dollars in a week, but it will take its toll on your body. Make your plan and balance work with your life.”
Dr. Amy Townsend, Dean of Career Technical Education, introduced each candidate including their hometown, immediate plans for work, and long-term goals. Certificates were presented by their instructors.
Seventeen students graduated from the eleven-month-long Cosmetology program. During that time, students learn the basics of hair, skin, and nails.
Sydnee Lothian is one of the graduates who has always enjoyed doing hair and skin care. A family member is in cosmetology, so she saw aspects of the career for years.
“I’d like to work in a salon for a while,” said Lothian. “Eventually I want to own my own salon and focus on being an esthetician and doing colorful hair.”
Fourteen students graduated from the year-long Barbering program, led by Instructor of Barbering Tyrone McLaurin. A mixture of coursework and hands-on instruction is delivered with a focus on shaving and cutting hair.
Elizabeth Amacker Pearson completed the Barbering program after first going through the Cosmetology program. She had left work as a district manager and began helping at her husband’s establishment, Pearson’s Barber Shop.
“Working at the shop renewed me with the customer service aspect and feeling of self-satisfaction that money can’t buy,” said Pearson. “My husband encouraged me to come to PRCC for my education when I was 58. I didn’t have the confidence in myself to attend college, but he and others cheered me on.
“I go to the nursing home on Wednesday to provide services to the residents there. This has been the best job I’ve ever had.”