Lancer Spotlight: Shani Houser learns cosmetology skills at CTC


Shani Houser holds key items from her CTC Cosmetology course.

Cosmetology is the study skin, nail, and hair care.  How does anyone learn to be a cosmetologist without scissors, nail files, and makeup–this is the most difficult subjects to learn virtually.  This difference is most drastic for those students who are part of the FCPS Career and Technology Center at Frederick Community College. LHS Senior Shani Houser is one of the students who is dealing with this switch, and has been persevering with online and in-person instruction to work toward her cosmetology license test in May 2021.

Houser is in the second year of the Cosmetology Program at CTC. Her interest in the program began when she was in middle school, but her interest in cosmetology began even younger. “I always loved doing hair when I was little, whether it was styling my own or someone else’s. So when I was in middle school, and the CTC program came for a presentation, I was like ‘That’s a really good idea. It sounds like a really cool program,’” Houser said.

“I love that this is a program that I can finish in high school, so that when I graduate I have my license. Most tuition when it comes to cosmetology school is around $10,000-$20,000; but in the CTC program, you just have to pay $700 for the starter kit and that’s it. It’s so much cheaper. And since I get my license when I graduate I can go straight into the workforce and become a stylist. Most people become hair stylists afterwards, but some people can become nail technicians, or makeup artists. It’s really nice,” said Houser.

In the program, Houser has been learning about all the basics. “We learn all of the basic skills needed to become a cosmetologist and pass a basic cosmetology exam. Everything from hair coloring and cutting to basic skin care makeup. Right now we’re learning about perms, and the chemicals that go into, so there’s a bit of chemistry in there, too,” Houser said.

Cosmetology itself is a very hands-on skill. It requires the technician to be up close and in contact with many clients in order to make them look like a whole new person. So when it comes to translating into a virtual climate- the shift can be challenging.

This is something that Houser herself has had constant issues with.

“Doing this all through Covid-19 has definitely been the hardest part of the program so far. It’s so challenging to learn and teach through the screen–especially since the program is so hands on. Everything you do, you’re supposed to have a teacher there to guide and assist you because in a real world setting, you can’t really mess up doing this kind of job,” said Houser.

Houser goes to CTC one day a week to work on in-person skills.

Nevertheless, Houser has risen to the challenge. She’s been working extra hard to make sure she’s learning everything she can about proper hair care and cosmetology. She recently used her well learned skills to take on the challenge of cutting Erica Blockinger’s hair. In total she cut off 10 inches and styled it for free.

Before the cut.
During the cut.
After the cut.


But that’s not all she does. Houser is currently an ambassador for the program. Before the pandemic struck, she had the opportunity to travel to different schools and give presentations about the cosmetology program to get more people aware and interested in CTC. She knows what a difference an ambassador can make because that’s how she first became interested.

“Going to the elementary school was so fun! I heard some girls at the end of the presentation who were really excited about the program and said that they were going to do it when they got to high school,” said Houser.

She’s also a member of the National Art Honor Society, the National Honor Society, and the National Technical Honor Society, as well as a captain for the swim team, which she has been a part of since Freshman year. 

In her free time from school, Houser works at Shear Images, where she is currently a shampooist and is gaining experience in a salon environment. Since the reopening of hair salons, Houser says there has been some strange changes to her. 

“Because of the salon’s square footage, we can only have a certain amount of people in there. While we usually have 7 to 8 stylists, we can now only have 4 at a time because of social distancing,” said Houser. 

She continues to talk about some of her new work duties. “I already did a lot of cleaning and sanitizing before the pandemic because that’s mostly what shampoos do besides helping the stylist, but now I have to clean door knobs, and have to sanitize the shampoo bowls every time someone comes for a wash. The amounts of hand sanitizer we have in the shop now is crazy,” Houser said. 

She plans to continue her education at Brigham Young University where she will be deciding on studying graphic design, or illustration. Her inspiration for going to BYU is because of the strong program they have for both graphic design and illustration. With the cosmetology license, Houser can continue to work in the industry.