TORRINGTON – Jayce Munoz will start his college career this fall at Eastern Wyoming College in the barbering college. The journey to EWC has not been easy for Munoz who dropped out of high school and left his home in Torrington for Denver, Colorado in 2016.
“I gave up on school,” he said.
In Denver he worked a number of different jobs, but nothing was long term. So, in October 2021, he packed his bags and moved back home.
“I moved down here (Torrington) on a Saturday and was enrolled (in the HSEC program at EWC) on Monday,” he said. “I came straight here, took my test and started the program.”
Munoz had decided to go back to school and get his life back on “track,” he said. “I didn’t want to be the brother (he has 5 brothers and 3 sisters) who dropped out.”
Instead, he wanted to set a good example, graduate and move on to college.
“I think it (going through the HSEC program) was one of the best things that has happened to me,” Munoz said. “It is a great program.”
The HSEC (High School Equivalency Certificate) offers students the opportunity to prepare and take either the HiSET or GED exam, according to EWC Director of College and Career Readiness Center Callie Allred. It is an adult education program to prepare students who have not finished high school for college and careers.
“We serve students 16 to 99 years-of-age,” Allred said. “The criteria for being able to join our program (at EWC) is that a student must not be enrolled in high school and test at lower than a six in math, language and/or reading on TABE (Test for Adult Basic Education).
As Munoz started the HSEC program he asked when college classes would be starting for the fall semester at EWC. When he was told August he said he wanted to have his high school degree before then so he could start in the barbering program.
“I’m very competitive,” he said. “I asked what was the quickest anyone had made it through the program and was told three-and-a-half months. I set a goal three months.”
He made his goal a reality graduating from the HSEC program on June 2, 2022.
Now it’s off to barbering college at EWC.
“I’ve wanted to be a barber,” Munoz said. “A hair cut makes you feel more confident.”
He also wants to work for himself someday,” he said. “I see myself owning my own shop, but I don’t want to just own a barber shop. I want to own ‘the’ barber shop. The one everyone wants to hang out at.”
While living in Denver the barber shop, he went to was ‘the barber shop.’ It had a family atmosphere and was the place to hang out at and build relationships. The kind of shop Munoz can see himself owning one day.
“I want to give back, in a way,” he said.
As he prepares to start his college career this fall, he remembers his start in the HSEC program and the first tests.
“I remember looking at my test scores,” Munoz said (each test had to score at a five to more on). “I was at a three and they want me to be at five. I was a little discouraged.”
He started the HSEC program studying at the college from 9 a.m. to about 12 noon, Monday through Friday. Tuesdays were set aside to learn finances.
Munoz credits Allred, EWC’s Student Success and Testing Center Director Sergio Mendez and EWC Instructor Carlee Russell with helping to keep him on track.
“They are amazing people,” Munoz said. “They push you more than you push yourself. With that help it is amazing, but a lot can happen in those three hours (in the HSEC classes each day).”
The program is state and federally funded so the only cost for a student is for the tests, Allred said. Total cost for taking all the tests can range from $65-85.
“We have scholarships available to help with those costs,” she said. If a student is dual enrolled through the Department of Workforce Services, they can get paid to go through the program.
This fall Munoz will take the nice big step toward making his dream of owning “the barber shop” a reality.
For more information on the HSEC program contact Allred at 307-532-8399 or email her at [email protected]