It was 1995 and Antwan Marcel Ragland was looking for more. When entering his junior year at Person High School (PHS) he learned about an opportunity to enroll in free college classes, right here in Person County.

Antwan participated in what was then Piedmont Community College’s (PCC) Huskins Program. As a teenager, the prospects of leaving his high school facility mid-day to go to a college was thrilling!

Now called the Career and College Promise (CCP) program, high school students still have the opportunity to enroll in college level classes at PCC. In addition to experiencing higher education, students are also saving thousands of dollars through this tuition free program.

Antwan shares how he felt “pulled” in the direction of cosmetology, and that PCC’s program provided him the opportunity to experience various courses to better determine if this was indeed his future calling.

Upon enrolling in the program, Antwan was immersed into the world of Cosmetology. He comments on how he learned different stylist traits from his various instructors and how he felt these mentors “saw my potential before I even did.”

He recalls Mr. Brown saying, “Antwan, your money starts at the bowl, if you give a horrible shampoo you probably won’t get a tip and they may not even come back.” Antwan believes he learned his professionalism and cutting with precision techniques from this instructor. “My clients rave about my shampoo techniques and [say how] hair cutting is my strongest skill.”

Brown also taught Antwan the proper jargon used throughout the Cosmetology trade. “I live by proper salon terminology because it separates the professional from the hobbyist and clients can tell.”

Antwan credits PCC’s other instructors for teaching more than cutting and styling. “Mrs. Ouzts gave me a softer and gentler approach in how to handle women with attention to detail and punctuality, while other [instructors] helped inject their pizzazz into my creativity, teaching me to be bold with what I created because there would be people who loved it!”

After graduating high school, Antwan focused solely on his career in Cosmetology, earning his license in 1997. “PCC awarded me with my degree and gave me the tools I needed to embark on a journey that has helped me, my family, and countless others around me in ways that I can only wish for others.”

“My PCC instructor Mr. Brown also said, ‘If you ever feel like you know everything, you may as well stop being a hairdresser’. That’s the truest statement of all, as this field is ever changing. It seems as soon as I get acclimated with something, here comes the next, but that keeps it interesting and me on my toes.” Recognizing this need for continued education, Antwan was determined to sharpen his skills and deepen his knowledge in 2012 by attending Vidal Sassoon in Santa Monica, CA.

Looking back on his time and decisions, Antwan says, “I couldn’t be happier with the path that I chose. It’s afforded me so much more than I could’ve ever dreamed of coming from such a small town. I’ve traveled to countless cities for training, educating, [assisting] weddings, and building my skill-set continuously throughout the span of my career.”

“If I had to mention anything that I miss the most, I would have to say my 16 year old self. So that I could say to that kid to believe more in yourself, trust your instincts, and that it doesn’t matter where you come from, there’s room at the top.”

To learn more about PCC’s Career and College Promise program, and how to enroll in tuition-free college courses while still in high school like Antwan, visit www.piedmontcc.edu/ccp or contact Leia Rollins at (336) 322-2273 or Leia.Rollins@piedmontcc.edu (Person County) or Chris Forton at (336) 694-5707 or Chris.Forton@piedmontcc.edu (Caswell County).

Photo: Antwan Marcel Ragland (right) with PCC representative Chris Forton

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