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Ernestine Stephenson: Achieving a Childhood Dream


Ernestine Stephenson

When Ernestine Stephenson arrived at Nash Community College, she says she felt like “an old mother hen” because she felt so much older than most of the students. Thirteen years had passed since she graduated from Northern Nash High School, but Stephenson was undeterred. She was on a pathway to pursue her dreams.

Stephenson had dreamed of working in the field of cosmetology since she was a child, but says, “I put off my dreams of being a stylist for 13 years.” Opportunities for growth were limited at her place of employment, so she made the decision to attend Nash Community College.

In addition to attending classes, Stephenson participated in campus activities and organizations. “During this time I became closely involved with Student Government Association as their Associate Vice President of Activities, which was great.”

Graduating with honors, Ernestine Stephenson earned a diploma in Cosmetology, an Associate in Applied Science degree in Cosmetology and an Associate in Applied Science degree in General Occupational Technology.  While at NCC, she also received a Who’s Who Among American Junior College award for excellence in student government activities and was inducted into Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society.

She credits her instructors, Margie Mumford and Mary Barnes, for their instrumental role in her success as a student and later as an instructor. “They encouraged me to stay in contact with them after graduation, and I did. Whenever they needed a sub, it was me. From there, they encouraged me to get my Cosmetology Instructor license.”

Ernestine Stephenson has now been employed at NCC for 21 years, and she enjoys preparing students for their careers in cosmetology. She started as a Cosmetology Beginner Instructor, advanced to a Senior Instructor, then to Lead Instructor, and is presently the Program Chair of the Cosmetology Department. Stephenson is a two-time nominee for the Excellence in Teaching award.

Her words of advice to current and future students are simple but meaningful: “Listen and be very attentive. The world is yours if you want it.”

For more information about the Cosmetology program at Nash Community College, please call 252-451-8291.