On Thursday, January 24, eight Van Tech students piled into a school bus in the rainy morning for a trip south to Richmond to practice cutting and styling hair.
Enrolled in Van Tech's unique Hairdressing ACE IT program, the students were joining Richmond peers to prepare with their instructors for the upcoming BC Skills and ABA Hair Competitions.
For the next eight hours, the students learned a wide-range of new techniques and got a chance to practice their skills on some dummy heads under the watchful eyes of Van Tech teacher Malani de Leon.
De Leon says hairdressing is an incredibly versatile career choice. She should know. She cut her way through university and her teaching degree. Though the program has been running for decades, De Leon has been involved for only the past two years. Since then, she's already seen her students succeed. Of the eight who graduated last year, every single one has a job in the industry.
"I love working with the kids and allowing them to get hands on practical experience that they can use to transition from school to the working world," says De Leon.
The practicality of the program is one of the biggest draws for Johnson Cho, a Grade 12 at Van Tech.
"Personally I want to specialize in hair cutting. I like how really good hair stylists can be high-tier and can look intimidating," says Cho. "I want to be that kind of intimidating hair dresser."
Cho was interested in hair dressing before he enrolled in the Van Tech program. He took night classes and taught himself the basics with the internet. But he says the beauty of the Van Tech program is not only does he get 240 hours of work experience, but he gets to learn his craft on the government's dime.
To learn more about Van Tech's hairdressing program, click here.
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