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Cosmetology and Esthetics Grads Are Work-Ready

An enthusiastic group of students gathered Friday night for graduation exercises for the inaugural class of shorter-term workforce development classes in Cosmetology and Esthetics at McDowell Technical Community College. While the college has curriculum programs in both of these subjects, shorter-term classes offered through the Department of Continuing Education focus only on training required by the NC Board of Cosmetic Arts for Cosmetology and Esthetics graduates to sit for licensing exams in both subject areas.

“The goal of these programs,” said Stacy Buff, Associate Vice-President for Workforce Development, “is to get students work-ready as quickly as possible. We know that not everyone is looking for a degree or diploma to hang on a wall, but they do want the requisite training to become licensed as a cosmetologist or esthetician. These new Continuing Education Career Tracks give them that—without the need for extra Math, English and similar courses. Best of all, both programs are offered in the evening, to allow students who are employed to continue working to support themselves and their families.”

Cosmetology and Esthetics Grads Are Work-Ready

Three students graduating Friday completed a 1200-hour plus hour program in Cosmetology and will now complete a 6-month apprenticeship under a licensed cosmetologist before they can be licensed themselves. While they are now eligible for the state licensing exam and will not have to retest in six months, the apprenticeship is required before final licensure is conferred to the graduates.

An additional four students graduated in Esthetics during the ceremony. They completed a 600-hour program, as required for state licensure, and are now eligible to sit for their licensing exam. Unlike the short-term Cosmetology program, these students are licensed as soon as they pass their exam, with no additional apprenticeship required.

Students in Cosmetology graduating during this ceremony began their instruction in August of 2021, while students in the Esthetics program began in January, 2022.

“While we talk about shorter-term classes, these are still rigorous programs and students are held to the same standards as students in our curriculum programs,” said Buff.  “We are extremely proud of these students and our instructors, and we expect that enrollment in both programs will grow as word gets out in the community that we have a viable option for working families to get the education they need during the evening, and in a shorter-term than required of curriculum graduates.”

The next cohort for both programs in Continuing Education will begin in January. Enrollment in Esthetics section is nearing capacity, so students who may be interested in enrolling are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

Valeria Dobson behind a lectern

Valerie Dobson, Dean of Curriculum Programs and Chief Academic Officer at McDowell Tech, was keynote speaker for the event. She encouraged the graduates to “…live consciously and to make the right choices every day.”

“Small decisions matter,” she said. She related advice from her own hair dresser: “You’re with people on their best day, when they get married, and maybe on some of their toughest days, like when they’ve lost a loved one. I’ve had people cry in my chair and I’ve celebrated with people.”

“Be present, be compassionate and understanding and show kindness to those around you,” said Dobson.

“We will continue to respond to the needs of our students and our community in innovative and positive ways,” said Dr. Brian S. Merritt, MTCC President. “For students who want a complete degree program, we will continue to offer that option, but that option isn’t a viable solution for some. Working families need short-term workforce training solutions that get them into the workforce as quickly as possible, and we will provide that training at times that are convenient to their work schedules, when possible. We are proud of these graduates and look forward to what the future holds for them.”

To enroll in the next cohort in Cosmetology or Esthetics, visit . For now, tuition is free through 2023, thanks to our Learn and Grow Scholarship Program.

To schedule an appointment for Cosmetology or Esthetics services performed by one of our students, please call 828-652-0687 (Cosmetology) or 828-652-0640 (Esthetics) in mid-January. 


2022 Cosmetology Graduates:

Karsen Renee Shirley

Patrice Matherson Ross

Grecia Ayala


2022 Esthetics Graduates:

Melisha Chardae Mutz

Jasmina Lea Marlow

Mayra Belen Guardian Leyva

Kyra Pheneece Holloway


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