FORSYTH COUNTY — Five Forsyth County seniors will be ready to pursue a professional career not long after graduation later this month.
Four seniors at West Forsyth and one at Forsyth Central have completed 1,500 hours in their respective school’s cosmetology program, making them eligible to take state boards this summer to become master cosmetologists.
The master cosmetologist certification includes licensure in every area of cosmetology, from hair and skin care to nails and waxing.
Jenna Palazzo, a 2013 graduate of West, was the first Forsyth County student to attain all the needed hours for the licensure.
This year, four more from West’s program — Melanie Cammarano, Esmeralda Guerrero, Emily Kaczmarek and Sarah Szatkowski — have achieved the necessary hours.
Ashley Jeter is the first student from Central’s program to achieve the master cosmetologist level.
Stephanie Holton, who has been Central’s cosmetology instructor for the past decade, said she’s not surprised Jeter was reached the milestone, which involves taking cosmetology courses through all four years of high school and during the summers, as well as participating in internships.
“She’s been an outstanding student and is involved in a lot of different things,” Holton said.
Jeter said she is looking forward to getting her licensure so she can use it to make money while she’s attending the University of Alabama.
“I’m studying computer engineering, but I’ll do this on the weekends and through the week in all my spare time to help make money for college,” Jeter said.
Eventually she hopes to also use the certification to develop a line of hair care products and run her own salon.
Each of the West cosmetology students will also be attending college in the fall. Cammarano plans to attend Valdosta State University in south Georgia, while the others are heading to the University of North Georgia.
According to all five, one of the best things about the cosmetology program is that it has taught them about much more than hair, makeup and manicures.
“I find it to be one of the most important things that I did in high school because you get to walk out with an actual profession,” said Kaczmarek.
“And not only that, it makes you look so much better to employers, whether this is your career or not,” added Cammarano. “Because they look at you and they know that you can show commitment with being in this program for all four years and every summer.”
Holton agreed that no matter what career field students decide to go into, cosmetology teaches valuable lessons.
“We teach all kinds of skills that go along with employability, so we’re getting students ready for any kind of employment for whatever door or pathway they choose,” she said.
Joyce Thomas, the instructor of West’s program, said word seems to be spreading about the value of the program at both schools.
“It just keeps growing,” she said. “I have 39 enrolled right now in the summer session, so I had to offer a double course this year.”
She added that over the next couple of years, the number of seniors slated to graduate with all 1,500 hours will approach 30.
“We have those that really have the passion for it and they can go and get advanced training once they leave after getting their license here,” she said. “So it really opens up a lot of doors for them by the time they graduate.”