When communication major Courtney Hicks first came to College of Charleston, she had a vision for a community to serve minority populations on campus.
Hicks, a licensed cosmetologist, envisioned bringing students of color together with an appreciation and understanding of the power of black women’s relationships with the styles and struggles going on atop their heads.
“Everyone has a strand of hair on their body,” says Hicks.
She adds, “Collegiate Curls was created to help, mainly, minority females, though we do reach to males also, to feel more comfortable in their own skin and embracing their natural hair texture.”
Eighty women and several men showed up to the first meeting of Collegiate Curls – it was obvious to Hicks and her executive board that the organization was a vital missing piece for the black and multicultural population at CofC. The group meets once a month to discuss hair care, volunteer opportunities and events at the College, among other topics. Attend a meeting and the camaraderie is instantly felt.
“What I find most exciting about being a part of a group like this is that I don’t get judged,” says political science major Sarah Nesbit. “I feel at home, and I feel comfortable. I feel really loved and welcomed. It’s not just because it’s people that look like me, it’s because I’m with people who share the same struggles and obstacles from day to day.”
Hicks thinks that the group gives students who attend the meetings a sense of belonging on the CofC campus. Many of the men and women would not have met if it hadn’t been for the club. Different majors, residence hall assignments, or even class years can keep students from connecting with one another.
“There’s a lot of diversity within the minority population on campus. Not only is it different hair textures, but so many different interests,” says Zaylee Butler, a first-year student double-majoring in secondary education and political science. “I’ve met so many computer science majors to business majors to theater majors. It’s nice to meet people who are like me but who are also different — it’s nice to see all those ideas.”
“It’s amazing the close bond I have with these ladies in such a short time,” says exercise science major Timesha Moody. “This group allows me to meet people I would have never met.”
Public health major Tamazha Pilson agrees.
“If I see someone in the group who I don’t know, I always make it my business to ask their name or their major,” she says. “I want to know more people like me on campus.”
While hair might have been a starting point for the group to come together, it’s the immense sense of community that allows Collegiate Curls to resonate with so many minority students on campus.
Communications and international studies double-major Gabriele Stahnke adds, “This amazing group of women is always willing to lend a hand or give you a natural hair tip, as well as providing emotional support.”
The students will be spreading the word and celebrating the group with an Empowerment Weekend comprised of events to culminate Black History Month.
Collegiate Curls will be in Cougar Mall on Friday, Feb. 24, giving out “Positive Afromations” — encouraging messages about beauty and self-confidence — along with candy during peak class change times. That evening, they will host a Flashback Friday 90s Party in the Stern Center Ballroom from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
On Saturday, Feb. 25, the club will host a Brown Girls Rock! award ceremony to highlight unsung heroes in the minority community. The event begins at 6 p.m. in Stern Center Ballroom.
Photos by Reese Moore.