Neijae Graham-Henries may be young, but the second-grader is already making a name for herself in the hair business.
The 8-year-old protégé of Philadelphia barber P. Michael Boone attended the Junior Barber Academy over the summer and has been blazing a trail since completing the program.
Boone, who has been a barber for 25 years, says he designed the six-week program with young men in mind. “I wanted to teach young men to be self-sufficient and cut their own hair when they went away to college,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “My students learn the fundamentals of men’s haircuts — safety, cleanliness, clipper control, and hair strokes.”
Neijae’s brother attended the orientation but decided it wasn’t for him, and on the first day of class, his sister, who was then 7, showed up ready to learn. Not only was she the youngest student in the class, she was also the only girl. “I never expected to see a young lady in my class, but she was eager to learn, and I gave her the same guidance I’d give my older students,” says Boone.
A dedicated student, Neijae didn’t miss a single class, completed the program, and put her newfound skills to good use as a volunteer almost immediately. “I put on a back-to-school event in Philadelphia where 300 to 400 kids show up for free haircuts, and Neijae came to help me. She even brought her own clippers!” says Boone.
He adds: “I teach my students to give back and do community service, whether it’s haircuts for young kids their age or older folks.”
Inspired by his young mentee, Boone plans to put together a fall program later this year. “I am very proud of her. She was a great student, and I am excited to see where this will take her,” he says. In fact, Boone says he will reconnect with his protégé soon for another volunteer event. “I’m going to be cutting hair for the homeless in November, and I already asked Neijae to come along.”
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