More than meets the eye

EWC cosmetology and barbering


TORRINGTON – It has been said, find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for it and that is exactly what the students at Eastern Wyoming College Cosmetology and Barbering program are striving to achieve; a career they love. 

The cosmetology program offers a “unique opportunity” by combining a college atmosphere and cosmetology coursework. The college offers the opportunity for students to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cosmetology as well as certificates in hair, esthetics, nails, or barbering. 

Assistant professor, Glenna Zwiebel and professor and director Donna Charron lead their students through 1800 of coursework.

“We have 27 cosmetology stations,” Charron said. “We don’t have all of them filled because we are graduating kids as they progress out.”

Classes for the program are parallel and according to Charron, everything tucks in.

“We start out big cosmetology class in the fall,” Charron explained. “We don’t start cosmetology in the spring at all. Only in the fall. We have certificates that start with that then. They are kind of parallel. Wherever the cosmetology kids are at, that’s where my manicuring students are going to be. When they are done, my estheticians start in the spring when my cosmetology students learn skin care,” Charron explained. “That’s the only way we can do it with the limited instruction we have and space.”

The instructors at the college also stay current with new techniques and services through continued education. 

“We also have a barber area where we have six chairs for the barbers,” Charron explained. “We have some pretty good enrollment with that program. There are two different areas in that as well.”

Some of the education instructors receive requires both students and instructors to travel to cosmetology shows in Rapid City, South Dakota, and Denver.

“Right now, these are our first-year students and they’re doing an absolutely marvelous job, of course, their instruction was just out of this world so what can we say about that,” Charron joked as she pointed out a group of students working on training mannequins. 

One of the added bonuses to the 1,800-clock-hour program which covers the curriculum set by Wyoming law the ability to start seeing “clients” early.

“Our cosmetology students in their first year, they do not work on clients until after spring break,” Charron said. “We’re very different from private school. Private schools look at us and say, ‘What can you teach a kid in that amount of time?’ We have that opportunity because we do not depend on any resources, so to speak, from the client on the clinic floor so we’re not rushed to get them out. There’s plenty of time for them to get that,” she added. 

“We focus on foundation. Solid skills. There’s lots of time when they get out in the salon, they can develop this tweak to it then and develop their own ‘what works better for me’. At least they understand the head and how the hair lays, what those projection angles are,” Charron expressed. 

Believe it or not, there is a science to a great haircut and as Charron expressed, it isn’t as easy as it looks, and it should not be attempted at home. 

“It’s not like watching a Tik-Tok,” Charron said. “You wouldn’t believe the things we saw after Covid.”

According to Charron, the foundation begins in the classroom. 

“They spend a lot of time in the classroom and when they come out, they’ve got really nice skills that they put to use really well,” Charron said. 

As a responsibly of maintaining their own clients, the students in the program also are responsible for mixing their own formulas, with supervision, Charron expressed. 

“The students are responsible for mixing their own chemicals and formulas after we have had conversations,” Charron explained. “They just don’t get to randomly choose.”

Like mainstream beauty shops, the cosmetology department requires a series of disinfectant and sanitation practices. 

“We have a pretty high level of disinfection and sanitation procedures that students are required to follow,” Charron said. “There is always work in progress.” 

“When the students are not with a client, we ask that they are working on something cosmetology related, whether it is hair, skin, or nail,” Charron explained. “We have a lot of our regular clients that just come in,” Charron said. “It’s really awesome.” 

The college not only does the program offer instruction on many procedures but those procedures are also offered to the public through the hands of students. 

“We have a pretty nice hand and foot care service clientele,” Charron said. “We do all ages, both men and women. It usually is pretty busy, and we have to be careful we don’t over-book it.” 

The college program provides hair removal services in addition to hair design, chemical services, and nail care services. 

“It’s really interesting, like once you actually get to know the skin, there are so many different parts to it and honestly, it’s a lot of fun,” student Kayla Dreiling said as she sat waxing her fellow classmates’ legs.

Dreiling agreed skincare is much more complicated than what meets the eye.

“I didn’t know estheticians was even a thing until about my junior year (in high school). That’s when I got into eyelash extensions and more of my skincare because I started to care a lot more. I was really like, well, I don’t want to go to the Botox side yet, so that’s when I looked into here (EWC), but I didn’t start this until January.” 

Charron expressed the esthetician program is a certificate-only program with a 1,600-clock-hour program where students are also required to meet college credits.

“They are required to go through the summer, if they have enough clock hours, it all depends on their clock hours. Attendance is crucial,” Charron stressed. “They focus on strictly facials, the skin, health of the skin. They focus on waxing, of course. They do lash and brow tinting. They do makeup. We don’t do eyelash extension, but we do eyelash strip lash and things of that nature.”

Charron explained the courses to teach eyelash extensions for the college instructors come with a large price tag, noting a one-day class would be $300 which didn’t include Charron’s product. 

“A lot of people do them themselves now,” student Madaline Garner said. “They don’t go to school for it. It’s scary.” 

Dreiling, who basically grew up in the Torrington area, agreed with Charron on the higher price tag for the classes and she also mentioned learning about different products has been a highlight for her. 

“It’s crazy how many products go to different specific skin types, Dreiling said as she displayed countless bottles of beauty care products. “These are all of the different products and for each one, you can see the skin types on them. It’s super cool.”

Estheticians enrolled in the program also learn about the electrical side of skincare with services like microdermabrasion, light therapy, and microcurrent, according to Charron.

“Everything is strictly devoted to skin and the treatment of skin,” Charron said. “There is nothing to do with hair, except waxing it out.”  

“We like to optimize every person that comes in,” Zwiebel who works part-time said. “Whether we can do their facials and their feet and their manicures.” 

Many of the students were working on clients or practice mannequins and each of them was performing a skill. 

“I started at a different college,” student Madi Leach explained. “It wasn’t working out and this is closer to home.” 

“My cousin went here prior and in Nebraska, you really don’t have a college that offers cosmetology,” student Ally Conroy said. 

Many of the students had an interest in cosmetology and other beauty services from an early age.

“I am from Cheyenne. I chose EWC because it was kind of close to home and I didn’t have to travel far to get back,” student Jordan Hardin said. “I chose this program because I really liked makeup and I started teaching myself how to do nails during Covid, when I couldn’t go to the salon anymore. I started teaching myself and decided I would like to do that as a profession and learn how to actually do it. I was thinking I could make money off this. The program is great, and the teachers are super nice. I like the students; they are pretty cool.” 

“I’ve been doing my family’s hair and nails since I was like ten,” student Isabella Scarborough said. “It’s just something I am really good at. I was always told that my nail art was phenomenal so I should go for it professionally so, I did.”

Currently, the program has 17 first-year students and four estheticians, and four students graduated from the program last week, which brings the enrollment to 25 students.

“During the summer, we don’t have as big of a number of students that come through so we only have eight to ten that usually attend. In the fall is when they all return and we have the full amount,” Zwiebel said. “We bring kids in from all over.” 

Some of the students entered into the program having dreamed of someday working in a salon, but not everyone in the program had cosmetology or barbing as their passion. 

“The barbering program has actually two programs. There’s a barber tech and a barber stylist program, the barber stylist does colors, perms, and other chemical treatments to the hair. I feel like most people who join this program are people who already have a passion for cutting hair and have already learned or taught themselves a little bit about it which was not me I knew absolutely nothing about cutting hair,” student Jordan Courtney said. “I’d never even given a haircut besides to myself, but I knew it’s the place God wanted me to be, so I just went in with an open mind and honestly it was pretty terrifying. At first, I think it was the second or third week I did my first haircut on a real person, and, the only way I could really explain the feeling is like a baby boomer trying to work a smartphone. But after a couple of weeks of being on the clinic floor, I started to understand how haircutting worked and I was producing some pretty good haircuts.” 

Courtney mentioned throughout his short time in the program, his clientele has grown tremendously and opened so many doors.

“My long-term goal and the sole reason I joined barber school to begin with is to start a nonprofit and every haircut you pay for pays for a haircut for the homeless,” Courtney added. During the warmer months, I want to make a mobile barber shop and travel to highly populated homeless areas reasonably close by and give those free haircuts and share the message of the gospel while doing so.”