One minute he was styling hair and the next thing he knew, he was in line with a cap and gown.
It happened almost that fast, says Ethan Brewer, 40, owner of Hairpeace Salon in Knoxville.
Brewer says he was taking photography and management classes on his own at Pellissippi State Community College when an advisor told him about a program too good to pass up: the AHEAD (Accelerated Higher Education Associate’s Degree) program.
AHEAD is an accelerated degree program for busy people who are trying to advance in a management career. Classes are two nights a week, and most courses run for five weeks. The program allows students to earn an associate’s degree in Business Administration in only 16 months.
Brewer, a Memphis native, had already been operating a successful business for a number of years, but he says he had always had college in the back of his mind.
“I had always wondered about getting a college degree. When my friends were going off to college, I went to New York and started working in a salon on Madison Avenue. The owner there, an Italian hairdresser, became my mentor.”
Eventually Brewer moved to Knoxville and opened Hairpeace. He has also more than made up for lost time in the classroom. He enrolled in AHEAD in September 2007 and graduated from Pellissippi State in December 2008.
“Going through the AHEAD program in Business Administration has changed the way I manage the salon,” Brewer said.
“The biggest wake-up call for me was probably human resources—what employees should expect from a manager and what my legal responsibilities are—but general leadership is a close second. I feel more confident to step up as a leader now. Leadership skills are not something that I developed naturally.”
Since finishing at Pellissippi State, Brewer has completed a bachelor’s degree from Tusculum College, graduating summa cum laude.
“I would never have gotten a bachelor’s degree if it hadn’t been for the AHEAD program,” he said. “It would have taken years the traditional way. I work full time. Going to school at night was perfect for my schedule.”
To learn more about AHEAD or other degree programs at Pellissippi State, call (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu.