GTI’s nail program scratching the surface

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By Cheri Harris

Whether it’s the chance to explore a rewarding vocation for free in high school or start a second career as an adult, Gadsden Technical Institute Nail Technology Instructor Cynthia Kimbrell said the program has a lot to offer the community.


In addition to offering education to students, it also offers salon services such as manicures, pedicures and acrylics, as well as spa treatments such as waxing and facials at affordable prices.

“The facial treatments are quite a luxury,” Kimbrell said.

The 240-hour course covers the basics of the trade, such as following rules of hygiene and safety. But Kimbrell said she also teaches life skills, time management, communication and marketing. 

“The cosmetology industry, it’s really a people thing,” she said.

She teaches students how to set out inviting snacks for open house-style gatherings because they have to learn to draw customers in, “and food usually works.”

Open enrollment for the Nail Technology program starts Jan. 6 and continues for two weeks.

Kimbrell said GTI is in the process of becoming federally accredited through the Coalition for Occupational Education, so eligible students will be able to use Pell Grants to pay tuition starting in the spring.

During a Dec. 12 visit to Kimbrell’s nail salon classroom, Marcia Boynton had a holiday manicure from a pampering wax dip to freehand nail art in festive colors. Boynton is president of the program’s advisory committee.

In the world of cosmetology, nail technology is the starting point. Kimbrell said licensed hair stylists earn cosmetology licenses, which means they have training that encompasses other salon skills such as manicures and pedicures, facials and treatments that they may not use on the job.

Kimbrell said high school students who complete the nail technology program at GTI must wait until they turn 18 to take the state licensing exam.

Jasiman Powell of Quincy is a GED student and a cosmetology student in Don Gibson’s class. During a visit to Kimbrell’s class, she said she enjoys applying acrylic nails.

“I haven’t tried nail art,” she said. “I’m a little nervous about it but I think I can do it once I learn.”

Kesha Thigpen started Boynton’s pedicure and when she had to leave to go to another class, Kimbrell took over for her. Thigpen said she loves being in Kimbrell’s class. She is also working toward her GED.

In her efforts to build the program, Kimbrell said she has visited East Gadsden High School and Carter-Parramore Academy because buses arrive three or four times a day from other schools and Carter-Parramore is just across the street.

Kimbrell said high school students who complete the nail technology program and pass the state exam could have the opportunity to enter college with the professional skills they need to make a living while pursuing a higher education.

The nail salon at GTI is currently open from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., Monday through Friday. After the new semester begins, Kimbrell plans to offer services from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. as well. For information, call 875-8324.

Times Executive Editor Cheri Harris can be reached at editor@gadcotimes.com or 850-627-7649.