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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Salt Lake Community College cosmetology students rally to keep the program on Wednesday, May 16, 2012.
It's my life. I'm a recovering drug addict so this is pretty much all I have. —Amanda Nabity, a cosmetology student at SLCC

TAYLORSVILLE — Salt Lake Community College's decision to kill its cosmetology program could affect more than just the student's education.

At least one student says the program is the only thing keeping her off the street and off of drugs. 

"It's my life. I'm a recovering drug addict so this is pretty much all I have," Amanda Nabity, a cosmetology student at SLCC said. "This is helping me get my life back together. If I didn't have this I might be on the street."

Nabity joined about 50 students, instructors and supporters in a rally Wednesday to support the program that SLCC administrators plan to eliminate in spring 2014.

Linda Shinglleton, an employee of TURN, a program that helps adults with disabilities, said the program means a lot to those they help.

"It would be a really big loss for them," Shinglleton said. "They're really special people and these people have treated them so well, it has been a really important part of their lives."

Dave Jones, spokesman for the college, said the decision to cancel the program wasn't only a financial decision.

"It was a combination of the fact that it was losing a lot of money … and the fact that an associates degree is not necessary for student to go to work in the program," Jones said. "Private institutions can and do train people in this industry all the time."

Courtney Stowe, a student in the program who completed the cosmetology class through Granite Technical Institute, said she had to start from scratch at SLCC.

"Ninety percent of the first semester was spent fixing things the other schools taught us," Stowe said.

Industry professionals at the rally expressed their support for the program.

"We need this program because, as a small business owner, we need students that are well rounded," said Richard Ajer, owner of 14 Great Clips salons in Utah. "The (SLCC) cosmetology program ranks number two in the nation. Students come out well rounded in math and English."

Connie Neylan, an instructor who has been cutting hair for 41 years, spoke of the importance of the program.

"The problem is that most of the schools that are private, they’re wonderful schools and we're not putting them down," Neylan said. "We just want a chance to help the people who don't have the money or finances find their way in life and have the chance to be successful."

Neylan also said the program allows them to be in control of their lives.

"We are in control of our whole environment, we have the ability to say how much we want to charge, how much we want to work how much we want to do," Neylan said. "Nobody can take that away from us, and if we like we can go into our own homes, how many people do you know who work out of their own home and are very successful?"

Twitter: @FinleyJY