Periodic tables and laboratory sinks replaced large mirrors and wash basins, as local hair stylists Jennifer Shattuck and Emily Chapdeline snipped away like everything was normal.
For a day, Room 220, which is usually reserved for physics classes at Nashua Community College, was a hair salon.
The room served as the site of Angela Rodgers’ service-learning project Monday for her environmental science class, where she offered free haircuts to Nashua Community College students, faculty and staff.
Rodgers’ plan was to then send the hair to Matter of Trust, a nonprofit organization based out of San Francisco that is accepting donations to make hair booms that will help clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
British Petroleum, the oil company responsible for the spill, announced in May that it would not use donated hair booms, but Matter of Trust said on its website that it is still accepting the donated hair to make booms and give them to Gulf towns, harbors and beach hotels to protect their shores.
Rodgers’ event wasn’t open to the public, only to those associated with the school, and ran from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. She said she worried no one would show up.
Instead, more than 20 people signed up by 11 a.m. and eight more would file in before the event ended. Rodgers said the final count included 14 students, 12 faculty and staff members and two additional family members of students or staff.
She said there were nine more people signed up when the event ended, but they couldn’t be fit in because there was a class scheduled for 12:30. Donations were accepted as well to help pay to ship the hair to Matter of Trust, and Rodgers said they collected $61.
“It was awesome,” she said. “I was really surprised at how well it turned out.”
Rodgers, 32, came up with the idea in May on the second day of class when students tried an experiment to soak up an oil-and-water mixture with hair, wool, cotton, kitty litter, bark mulch, hay, and other items.
“It was amazing how much oil the hair soaked up,” Rodgers said.
From there, she organized the event with Shirley Silva-Paige, the director of service learning and career placement at Nashua Community College, and received support from her professor, Jane King, and her peers.
“This is the first time we’ve done anything like this,” Silva-Paige said. “We’re very good at helping out in the community.”
Rodgers got the word out by sending an e-mail to all students, faculty and staff, and she also received help from Silva-Paige, who designed posters for the event and put them up around the school grounds.
The two local hair stylists, Shattuck and Chapdeline, also volunteered their free time to help support Rodgers.
Shattuck, 24, is Rodgers’ sister and has worked at The Cut Away, a hair salon in Nashua, for five years. She said she opted out of a day off at the beach to help her older sister.
Chapdeline, 20, lives in Lunenburg, Mass., but knows Rodgers’ professor, King, through her job as a stylist at the Mode Salon in Manchester. When King asked for volunteers, Chapdeline agreed to step in. And while she has been a hair stylist for three years, she said it was tough adjusting to a different setting in the classroom.
“It’s harder,” she said. “You don’t have everything you need, and it’s not as relaxing for the people getting their hair cut, since there’s no shampoo or any of that. But it’s for a good cause.”
Students Jamie Conner and Rubiel Vargas also showed up to support the effort. Conner studies early childhood education and plans to graduate next fall while Vargas plans to graduate in 2011 with a degree in computer networking. Neither student said they knew Rodgers, but they heard about the project and wanted to help.
Rodgers will finish her liberal arts degree next spring and is taking three classes at the community college this summer. One of the classes is her environmental science course where she chose to pursue a service learning project instead of a final research paper.
Her professor encouraged the project to students as a way to be creative and to help support a cause.
“I want to connect them to something,” King said. “Students can do these projects in lieu of a research paper. I make the research paper sound really hard, but there are expectations time-wise for these projects. They do get academic credit, but they have to clock their hours.”
Rodgers said she visited Silva-Paige’s office almost every day to follow the project’s progress, and said she was happy with the result.
“Everybody’s willing to come, everybody’s here to help,” Rodgers said. “This is why this college is so great.”
Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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