Future Barber Makes the Cut with CTE

Barbering: Many experts call it a practical, recession-proof career. Others know it as an art form or an expression of individuality. For DSF Scholar Yami Olivas, barbering is a dream turned into reality.

Yami, a 2019 graduate of Abraham Lincoln High School and a current DSF Scholar at Emily Griffith Technical College, is three months shy of completing her certificate in the field.

“Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to become a hair stylist. I’ve always had a big thing for hair,” shares Yami.

Looking back to high school, Yami had a clear career goal in mind, but she needed support in order to reach it. In her senior year at Abraham Lincoln High School, she formed a tight bond with DSF College Advisor Emma Kepes.

“I couldn’t be more grateful for Emma,” Yami said. “She was like a teacher, but I also saw her as a friend. She knew how I felt about everything and she was always there to listen.”

As Yami’s DSF College Advisor, Emma helped pull together the resources Yami needed to make her dream come true. Inspired by Yami’s drive and motivation to succeed, Emma helped her navigate through challenges, while sharing successes along the path to college.

“What stood out the most about Yami was how driven she was,” reflects Emma. “She always had a plan, and the follow through was never far behind to make it happen. The biggest challenge for us was with financial aid. Yami’s situation was different from most students, which meant more financial aid hoops to jump through, but she worked through it all and got the aid she needed for her program.”

The barbering program at Emily Griffith Technical College, which takes nine months to complete, is designed to equip students like Yami with the practical skills they need to enter the workforce immediately upon graduating.

“I decided on a certificate program because, although I loved school, I knew I didn’t want to spend another four years in a traditional school setting,” explains Yami. “I knew I could go big or go home—so why not pursue something I knew I love to do?”

Now, nearing completion of the barbering program at Emily Griffith Technical College, Yami is planning for her next steps after graduating with her certificate.

“I eventually want to open my own barber shop or salon,” says Yami. “I currently work at the barber shop at Emily Griffith Technical College.”

CTE programs, such as the barbering certificate that Yami is pursuing, help DSF Scholars accelerate their careers, often for a fraction of the cost of a traditional four-year degree.

“CTE exposure and exploration is so important because it allows more students to see themselves in higher education,” shares Emma Kepes, DSF College Advisor. “There is not a one size fits all approach to college, but it is important that students know about all options so they can make the best choices for themselves to reach their goals.”

Yami hopes that her story inspires other students and Scholars to seek out resources, like the DSF Future Center and DSF Scholarship, to help them achieve their dreams, too.

“It’s important to keep following your dreams. I got to a point where I wanted to give up, but I looked at the bright side and saw how many people wanted to help me,” says Yami. “Because of DSF, my college is paid for. I didn’t think I would make it this far, but I did!”

Learn more about how DSF support Scholars like Yami through career and technical education here.