Scholarship Winner Not Afraid To Try Anything

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Charles Wilson / Photo courtesy Dianne Frazee-Walker

On a nippy spring morning in April, I arrived at Trinidad State Junior College in Alamosa, Colorado, a little shy of 8:00am. The cosmetology students were anxiously awaiting my arrival. The purpose of my visit was to demonstrate Tammy Taylor’s famous 12-step process for doing a full set of acrylic nails in one hour or less.

Tammy Taylor is a real person who owns an international nail supply company based in Santa Ana, California. Taylor started her career as a nail technician and today she holds the Guinness Book of World records for the fastest set of acrylic nails; she can do a full set of nails in 20 minutes. 

I am a part-time independent educator for Tammy Taylor nails and a free-lance blogger for prisoneducation.com. The day I returned to the cosmetology department at Trinidad Junior College I wasn’t expecting to tie my nail educator job with blogging about prison education.

When I walked into the room a familiar looking face lit up and said “Hi Tammy Taylor, whoops, I mean Dianne.” I responded to the student by saying, “I remember you as the only student who was old enough to know who Jimmy Buffet was the last time I was here.”

You are probably wondering what Jimmy Buffet has to do with a Tammy Taylor nail class.

I enjoy adding my dry sense of humor to help the students remember the names of Tammy Taylor’s products. One of the Tammy Taylor nail files is called a gel “buff-it.” To help the students remember the name of the file I say, “Just like Jimmy Buffet.”   

Charles Wilson / Photo courtesy Dianne Frazee-WalkerToday was the third time I had Charles Wilson as a nail student. When I finished the demonstration, I stayed to talk with the students to address any nail questions or just become more acquainted. Charles shared with me that he was incarcerated and the cosmetology course is part of his reentry program. Immediately I thought this would be an interesting blog for prisoneducation.com.

Wilson’s name was drawn out of a 200-student pool. He won a scholarship to attend cosmetology school. Wilson is attending school on a grant, so he didn’t need the scholarship. He wanted the scholarship to be used by someone that really needed it, so he requested it go to a single mom or a financially deprived individual.

When Wilson first heard of cosmetology he didn’t know what it was, but after years working as a cement mason, he welcomed a less physically demanding profession.

Wilson’s life changed when he became entangled with the justice system and was sent to Community Corrections in Alamosa, CO. That was when he made a conscious decision to transform a negative situation into a positive outcome. Wilson began earning his hours to become a licensed cosmetologist at Trinidad State Junior College.  He discovered he had a hidden talent when his cosmetology instructor complimented him on his first set of beautiful acrylic nails. Wilson admits, “Training to be a cosmetologist is the most fun I have ever had in my life!”

This December is going to be a significant milestone for Wilson. He is graduating from cosmetology school and being released from Alamosa Community Corrections. He told me, “The first thing I want to do when I am released is go visit my daughter in California and meet Tammy Taylor in person at her headquarters in Santa Ana.”