Latedra Wiley founded the Beauty and Barber Professional Association of Huntsville to award scholarships to aspiring cosmetology and hairdressing students in Huntsville schools.

The organization comprises licensed professionals in the cosmetic and hairstyling business who would like to network with other professionals. However, the main purpose of the organization is to provide $500 scholarships to high school students. Currently, 10 individuals belong to the organization.

“First of all, Christ put this in my heart,” Wiley said. “We tried to get this program started three or four years ago, but it didn’t start and we let it linger and the door is now open.”

According to Wiley, scholarship eligibility requirements are: write at least two paragraphs on the need of the money and future plans after graduation, maintain at least a 75 class average, community service and no more than two discipline write-ups in school. Wiley said community service will be an important component of the scholarship.

“I attended Huntsville’s Seabring Cosmetology School and got financial aid,” Wiley said. “I know how far $500 can go for a student.”

Taffi Hill, cosmetology instructor at Huntsville High School, said all students must purchase a kit with all the equipment the students will need, including licensing at the end. The scholarship will be for this kit.

The association will host several events in the upcoming year as fund-raisers for the scholarships. The first event is a Hairshow and Fashion Extravaganza on Sept. 3 at the Old Town Theatre on 12th Street. Wiley said there will be a fashion show as well as various hairstyles on display.

Students and professionals will also be able to network with other professionals. Tickets are $7 if pre-sale and $10 at the door. VIP tickets, for the “best seating,” according to Wiley, are $12. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

A Beauty and Barber New Year’s Ball and a Beauty and Barber picnic are the next two events scheduled. A Hair Battle and Car Show is scheduled for June 2007 at the Walker County Fairgrounds.

“We will award this first $500 scholarship, and after the second event, we want to have three,” Wiley said. “Next year, we want to get bigger and expand to other, smaller schools.”

Shelia Gambrell, 17, will be the first scholarship recipient and is enrolled in the Huntsville High School program.

“She [Gambrell] is real good at doing hair and is real good at the books, but is not able to pay,” Wiley said.

Hill said this is the first year of the program. It is a two-year program with the option of being licensed at the end. Currently 41 students are enrolled in the program, only girls. Topics include spa treatment, hair color treatments and receptionist training.

Students will gain experience working with clients before graduating, according to Hill.

“Students will take clients at the third six weeks for simple services such as manicures, pedicures, blow-dry and haircuts,” Hill said.

High school students may join the Skills USA club to compete with other students in the district and the state in various cosmetology areas.

Professionals may join the Beauty and Barber Professional Association of Huntsville by paying $10. Members will also be expected to serve a certain amount of community service hours which can be volunteering at nursing homes and assisted living facilities to guest lectures for current students.

One benefit of membership will be scheduled classes and lectures for continuing education. Professionals are required to earn 25 hours of continuing education every two years, according to Hill.

For more information about the association or the upcoming hair show, contact Wiley at (936) 581-3210.

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