Twenty-year-old Brithany Moyon is defying stereotypes of today’s youth. While many her age are hanging out, chilling with their friends and enjoying leisure pursuits , Moyon is clutching opportunity with both hands.
“Brithany is a really smart girl,” said Laura Salas, Career and College Readiness Instructor at McDowell Technical Community College. “Everything she proposes to do, she finds a way to do it. We tell all of our students about all of the opportunities they have at McDowell Tech to learn English, get their GED, prepare for a career and so forth, but many of them don’t take advantage of those things, even if they have some level of desire to do so. Brithany, on the other hand, can see those opportunities, wants to take advantage of all of them, and she does it.”
Indeed, Brithany is a young woman making things happen for herself.
A few years ago, when she lived with her family in Quito, Ecuador, she had wanted to get into an art career and was planning to study art and/or design at a university in Quito. Unfortunately, she could not afford to go to college there without a scholarship and there were very few scholarships in art and design, and all of them were extremely competitive.
When her family decided to move to the United States, her limited English-language skills and Ecuadorian high school diploma were of little value to her in achieving her dreams. She would need to start over and formally prove herself with American credentials. She also recognized that art and design could be a hobby for her, just as easily as it could be a career.
So she forged a new path and got to work on it. Shortly after arriving in the States in October of 2021, she started taking classes in English at East Marion Independent Pentacostal Holiness Church (IPHC), even before the church had formed a partnership with McDowell Tech to offer free classes in English and GED preparation through the College and Career Readiness Program. Last fall, she also began studying for her GED—in English.
But in December, right about the same time that the McDowell Tech entered a partnership with East Marion IPHC, she saw advertisements on Facebook for an evening program in Cosmetology at McDowell Tech and got really excited about the possibility of becoming a cosmetologist, like her mother, Vilma Flores, who works at Yoly’s Hair Salon on Main Street in Marion. “Oh, my gosh!,” she said. “I really want to be a cosmetologist.” Soon she completed the paperwork to enroll, but it made her a little sad because she was going to miss taking the GED classes she had been working on at night.
But that sadness was short-lived, because McDowell Tech soon added more classes at the church for students who wanted to study for their GED or take English classes during the day. Being the go-getter that she is, she switched her GED and English classes to the day section, and continued her plans to enroll in cosmetology in the evening. She has not regretted that move.
When she finishes her GED and completes her cosmetology degree and begins working in a salon, Brithany then wants to circle back and start taking classes in graphic design at McDowell Tech, and maybe even some photography classes. But this time around, she plans to make art, design and photography her hobbies, rather than her career.
She dreams of possibly having her own beauty salon one day. As for now, she is content to study and work part-time at Adela’s Beauty Salon, also in Marion. She is cashier there and washes client’s hair sometimes. Her days are long, with GED and English classes during the morning, work at the salon during the afternoon, and evening classes in cosmetology, but she is very happy with how things are working out for her.
Believe it or not, she still squeezes in time for some of her hobbies: going to the gym, participating in sports, dancing, and practicing her artwork. She taught herself how to edit photos in Photoshop watching YouTube videos and has added that to her art repertoire. But one of her favorite things is dancing. “I really like to dance,” she said.
Brithany is very complementary of the staff at East Marion IPHC and McDowell Tech where all of her new opportunities started. “The teachers explain the lessons so well, and they are so really kind and helpful,” she said. “I really became comfortable in this place—and in cosmetology—and I really like the opportunities it brings to me and people like me. It’s not easy, but it is not impossible either.”
Interestingly enough, those opportunities are a large part of the reason her parents decided to come to America. “There were so many reasons, but especially, it was better opportunities for me, my brother, new jobs and education,” said Moyon. To be sure, it was also the calm and peaceful life in Marion. Her parents had friends here, and Marion promised to be a welcome change of pace from life in Quito, which is a large urban area with a population in excess of 2 million people.
Besides Brithany and her little sister Rafaela, age 6, she has an older brother, Janko, age 21, who also took classes in photography at McDowell Tech, but now works at Baxter Health Care in North Cove. His knows English well, because he studied English as a college student when the family lived in Ecuador.
Brithany’s parents, Vilma and Rafael Flores, are very proud of her. “They were so happy when I told them about (my interest in) going into cosmetology. My mom is so happy because I’m trying to do like her, and become a cosmetologist. She came to one of my practice classes in cosmetology (at McDowell Tech) one night and she wanted to cry because she was so happy.”
That’s a lot of “happys,” but in case anyone wasn’t sure how Brithany feels about all of this, you only need to look at the wide, cheery smile on her face. Apparently, opportunity is what dreams and happiness are made of.
“Brithany and other students like her are why we have expanded our outreach in the LatinX community and initiated our partnership with East Marion IPHC,” said Dr. Brian S. Merritt, President at McDowell Tech. “It is our purpose to contribute to workforce development in our region. Students like Brithany can transition to new and better jobs, better their socioeconomic status, and fill the incredible number of vacancies that our business and industry partners are experiencing today. As a result, our local and regional economies become stronger and healthier. Best wishes to Brithany on her career!”
To learn more about opportunities at MTCC for members of the LatinX community, contact Silvia Martin del Campo Vargas at 828-659-0496