Augusta, GA – The man with the clippers not only has skills in his wrist. He also has a message about how his wrongs can help Richmond County kids do right.
“Everybody has a heart on them. Everybody has a heart,” Derrick Larke, a student at Southern Barber College told News Channel 6.
Larke gave himself his first haircut doing two years for running from police after a theft in 2012.
“When I first got incarcerated I had a bunch of hair, a lot of hair. It was everywhere,” he recalled.
Now, two years after being locked up, the 32-year-old father of three is two weeks from graduating from barber school.
“Hanging with the wrong crowd. My parents used to always tell me don’t be out there in them streets doing the wrong thing. They used to always tell me, but being an only child I’ve always been curious like Curious George,” he remembered.
Barber students like Larke with a High School Diploma or GED and yes, even a past in prison can qualify for two thousand dollars in Southern Barber College Community Involvement Scholarships.
Former public school principal Wayne Frazier, who is president of the college, tells us the financial help is tied to mentorship.
“The way the barber student is going to be able to receive that $2,000 is when and if that student that we are mentoring show progress in the areas of academics and behavior,” Frazier said.
The men and women must take time from the lab to shape a student’s life in third through eighth grades. Frazier is offering $26,000 in scholarship funding to be disbursed between 11 qualified applicants. One person will have his or her full $6,000 tuition paid. The other ten scholarships are $2,000 each.
Frazier has tried a number of ways to give his Richmond County neighbors a hand up. This time, he’s hoping haircuts with a message works.
“When I can see that this child is a better human being and going in a better direction and I had something to do with it that means everything to me,” he said.
While cutting hair puts money in Larke’s hands as he’s hoping to open his own business near Paine College, he’s already rich in character.
He told us, “I’ve been liking kids since I was little. My momma already told me ‘You get along with anybody. You have a heart made of gold.’”
These barber students are expected to attend classes, meet with parents and teachers and encourage community service. Other requirements are that the barber students must complete a minimum of 100 volunteer hours of community service themselves. They must also complete classwork.
Frazier is hoping the community will join him in his endeavor. He is asking for the public’s help in assisting students pursuing their Master Barbering Licensing through Southern Barber College. To help or to sign up as a student for one of the scholarships, call 706.627.2017 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.