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How a Haircut at CAST STEM Goes a Long Way

Meet Roland, a 10th grader currently attending CAST STEM. What’s the first thing you notice about Roland? Is it his bright hazel eyes, or his smile that can light up an entire room? Chances are they’re difficult to see because his hair is covering his face. This is intentional, and Roland opened up to me about this when I met him for the first time.



Roland has not had his hair professionally cut in four years, and he hasn’t trimmed his hair himself in over a year. For Roland, his long hair is a part of his identity, and when it covers his face it brings him a sense of safety. However, safe as it may be, it can be difficult finding jobs/internships with hair as long as Roland’s. Mr. Bishop, a teacher at CAST STEM, noticed this, and was determined to make an impact on Roland’s life.


Although Roland was hesitant to even consider trimming his hair at first, Mr. Bishop didn’t give up. Because CAST STEM is currently located at Palo Alto College, the Cosmetology department at PAC heard about Roland’s story and offered to give him a trim for free. As an act of solidarity in support of Roland, Mr. Bishop wagered that if Roland got a haircut, he would shave his head and beard.


Roland accepted Mr. Bishop’s wager on Tuesday, and on Friday it was time to collect. Early Friday morning Roland and Mr. Bishop headed down to PAC’s Cosmetology department where they already had an appointment. Roland remarked that he was nervous about his haircut, as he has not seen himself with shorter hair in several years, yet despite his nervousness, Roland continued. There, surrounded by PAC’s Cosmetology students, his close friends and a teacher who refused to give up on his student, Roland began his haircut.




Simultaneously, Mr. Bishop also began his shave. Over the course of an hour, both Roland and Mr. Bishop went through a complete transformation. When he saw his new haircut, Roland was in total shock – this was a new look for the sophomore. Roland’s friends complimented his new look, and you could tell they were just as excited for him as Mr. Bishop, who, with a bright smile on his face, was now almost completely bald at this point. With his new haircut, Roland has a new sense of identity, and his opportunities outside of the classroom have multiplied tremendously.

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The Centers for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) Network is a tax-exempt organization as described in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service code. CAST Schools are partnership schools with a focus on STEM careers, project based learning and work-based learning. Key partners include public school districts, higher education institutions, and local employers from target industries.