Black History Month Student Spotlight: Mya Whitted, Cosmetology
February is Black History Month. EASTERN is extremely proud of our Black students and alum, and we are celebrating by focusing on our successful students throughout the month. This week’s student spotlight features Mya Whitted, a Cosmetology/Cheltenham High School senior, and SkillsUSA District Cosmetology Competition Medalist.
To Mya, Black History Month means Celebrating Black Culture. “It is recognizing the evolution of where we were, and where we are now,” said Mya. Mya feels honored to be selected for a Black History Month spotlight by her EASTERN Cosmetology Instructor, Ms. Wendy Leyden.
Mya says that her passion for the Cosmetology field is something that runs in her family, and something she knew would be part of her future from a young age. Her Grandmother was Cosmetologist and model. Her Grandfather was a Barber. Her Great-Aunt was a Cosmetologist. “I wouldn’t choose anything other than Cosmetology,” said Mya.
Mya credits her mother and her Cheltenham High School Counselor, Mr. Paul Bryant, for encouraging her to enroll in the Cosmetology program. Even though she was interested in Cosmetology, she wasn’t sure if she was ready to make the time commitment. Cosmetology requires 1,250 hours of class time to qualify to take the Pennsylvania State Board of Cosmetology exam. This means the EASTERN Cosmetology students attend several weeks during their junior and senior summers. During her 10th grade summer, Mya decided that she was ready, and Mr. Bryant changed her Cheltenham High School schedule to accommodate her.
“I am so glad I had the support of my mom and Mr. Bryant,” said Mya. “My mom knew how beneficial this would be for me, and the cost savings was huge. If I would have attended Cosmetology school after high school, it would cost somewhere between $18,000 - $24,000. Cheltenham changed my schedule a month before and look where I am now!”
Haircuts and styling are Mya’s favorite aspects of the program, but she also respects the attentive nature of her instructor, Ms. Leyden. “If we are not doing something right, she makes sure that we keep trying until we get it right,” said Mya. “Hair styling is a gift that not everyone has. I knew I had natural talent, but Cosmetology helped me to refine that talent. I am often asked by friends and family members to do their hair.”
Mya’s greatest inspiration in life is her mother. “She pushes me and my sister to challenge ourselves,” said Mya. “When I was little, she would always ask, ‘What did you do today?’ Now, when I see her after school, it is just a given. I immediately start telling her about my day.” Her advice to students interested in Cosmetology at EASTERN is “Show up every day. If you miss a day, you are going to have to make up the hours,” said Mya. “Even the first year, the hours add up. It all starts from day one. I am glad that I have the drive to show up and do my best every day.”
After graduation, Mya will be attending Delaware State University for Business. She plans to work in the Cosmetology field while in college. She has decided to study Business so that she can someday run her own salon.