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The Pickens Technical College Barber Program puts students in charge of real haircuts and stylings as soon as possible. The Pickens barbershop is a popular place where students and community members alike can get high-quality service while allowing the Barber Program students to lean on the job. Experiential learning is, of course, a high priority for all Pickens courses, and in the Barber Program, learning while doing is crucial to getting the skills and experience needed to be the next successful neighborhood barber.

In Colorado, barbers have to be licensed to be legitimate, and the Pickens Barber Program is geared to helping students prepare for the Colorado Licensing Exam. As with all barbers, Pickens students soon learn how to work with hair, make customers happy, and ensure their shop is clean and ready to work in. It’s all about building your career in hair with skills and experience, flavored with a little basic business sense in O.B. McClendon’s barber class

But beyond cutting hair and making customers feel like their best selves, there are plenty of opportunities for barbers to make a difference in their communities. Here are a few examples of barbers out there making extraordinary efforts to help others.

Neijae Graham-Henries: Barber Prodigy

Neijae Graham-Henries is an example of a profession choosing a person, not the other way around. Ms. Graham-Henries started barber school in North Philadelphia at age seven after she visited a barber school with her older brother. While her brother decided it wasn’t for him, Neijae stepped up in his place. According to Neijae’s mother Jamie Graham, Neijae had no doubt in her decision. “She said, ‘Mom, he doesn’t want to do it, I’ll give it a go,’” Graham said.

Despite enrolling in barber school as the youngest trainee and only female, Graham-Henries completed the course before starting the second grade in September. She now offers free haircuts to her classmates, an endeavor she considers a community service project that utilizes her unique skills.

Nashville Barbershop Grooming for a Purpose

A Nashville hairstylist thought she would use her hair-cutting skills to help the homeless of her community. Rather than dropping an old can of soup off at a food bank, however, she went further. Caroline Linder instead founded a one-woman organization, Nashville Street Barbers, that offers free haircuts to anyone experiencing homelessness in her community.

Linder got her inspiration from the local group Shower Up, which built a mobile shower truck to provide free showers to the homeless in Nashville. Linder contacted the group and they have worked together to provide an underrated service to those without homes: grooming. Nashville Street Barbers has since added several barbers to its staff, and they provide up to 80 free haircuts per week.

Above are two brief examples of extraordinary barbers. It’s probably too late to become the youngest professional barber in history, but you can still learn from both of these shining examples of barbers breaking molds and using their skills in bold, new ways.