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'I feel like I'm on top of the world' | Hays CISD barbering program gives students a purpose

Hays CISD's program is training future barbers while they're still in high school.

KYLE, Texas — Hays CISD has a slogan: "Changing lives, one student at a time." And the district's Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs are without a doubt changing lives and changing futures for the better.  

Eighty percent of Hays CISD high school students are taking part in one of 27 programs of study – everything from aerospace engineering to biomedical sciences. And one fairly new program is helping students be a cut above the rest.

Inside a classroom at Lehman High School in Kyle, the future is being groomed.

“Anybody can cut hair, but how many people can say they're a barber?” David Espinoza asked.

He can say he is because he earned his license two months ago. He’s the first graduate of Hays CISD's new barbering program.

“It's all like, setting in still,” he said. “I'm still like, in amazement. But I feel good, though. It's actually a relief.”

David Pierce has seen the growth of the district's CTE program firsthand. He spent more than a decade as principal at Hays High School and is now the deputy academic officer for the district. 

“So, over the 10 years, it's just been great to see the program evolve and grow in all three of our high schools,” he said while getting his hair cut in Espinoza's chair.

The program is growing and teaching more and more future professionals. There are 77 aspiring barbers in this program alone.  

"Where do you think you'd be if it weren't for the CTE programs here?” KVUE's Rob Evans asked one student, Sergio Sanchez. 

“I don't even know what I'll be doing, honestly,” Sanchez said. 

Earlier this week, Sanchez became the program's second licensed barber after passing the state test. 

“Most of our parents, or at least my parents are immigrants,” he said, “I’m just trying to make them proud. And it's unbelievable for them. They’re like, 'Wow, my son is actually doing something with himself,' you know?” 

He and other students work 1,000 hours in this classroom. 

“I'm at 940 right now,” said Angel Marquez, who hopes to become the program's third licensed barber later this month. 

“What does your family think about this?" Evans asked. 

“All of them are supportive of it,” Marquez said with a smile. “They like the idea of me, you know, being able to start my career early and work my way through it.”

Steven Sorto has 50 more hours to go. 

“My parents, they taught me a lot, you know, especially my dad. And he just [taught me to] just make something out of your life," he said.

And then there’s Joseph Guerrero. 

“I've felt like I've done a lot of wrongs in my life,” he admitted.

He's a young man whose future has changed completely. Last year, he said he “went down a bad path and got suspended and didn’t go back to school." It was at that point that he heard about the program and went for it. 

“Roll the dice, and it's just, you know, take a shot,” he said. 

Betting on himself – and winning big. 

“I love it,” he said with a smile. “There is nothing more I could ask for.”

In this classroom, Guerrero found the positive influences he needed for success.

“I needed that. I need that extra push, you know," he said.

The next thing Guerrero said gave Evans chills. When asked where he'll be in four years, Guerrero didn't say riding in a Mercedes or going on a shopping spree. Instead?

"Working 10, 11 hours a day cutting hair,” he said. “Making money, putting food on my parents' table, putting food on my own table.” 

“You said putting food on your parents table,” Evans said. “That's not something I ever hear people your age talk about. Why is that so important to you?”

“I'm extremely grateful for what my parents have done for me,” Guerrero said, starting to tear up. “I want to show them that it's not just a waste, everything that you did. I want to show them that 'I can support myself and y'all.'"

"This means the world to me,” he continued. “I look at myself a year ago, especially around this time, I had no purpose, you know? I didn't go to school, I didn't do nothing. And I mean, look at me now. I feel like I'm on top of the world.”

Hays CISD has a partnership with Austin Community College so students can earn college credit, at no cost, while in high school.

Espinoza now works at Barber Palace across from Lehman High School, if you’d like to give him a shot!

Rob Evans on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

KVUE on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube


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