At the end of her sophomore year in Ocean Township High School, Zoe Soto had to decide to follow one of two paths: she could continue along a more traditional academic route, or she could branch out into a vocational-technical program. Her father is principal of another vocational-technical school, and so she was well aware of the benefits of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.
She ended up finding an option that was the best of both worlds. She enrolled in the shared-time cosmetology program offered through Monmouth County Vocational School District (MCVSD). That allowed her to remain in her home high school for core academic credits.
“It is a great system, and one that I highly recommend,” she said. “I continued at Ocean Township for my junior and senior years, taking standard high school classes some periods and leaving to take cosmetology classes during other periods. I graduated in the same building and at the same time as my friends, but I was licensed and already had a job.”
During her senior year, Soto began working for BG Barbershop in Ocean Township, learning barbering skills, but also answering the phone and making appointments. After graduating in 2016, she continued working there and enrolled at Brookdale Community College to earn her associate degree in marketing.
When the barbershop closed for several months during the pandemic, Soto began making her own products at home, including beard oils, soaps, and shaving products.
“After my time at BG Barbershop, I had the confidence and experience to build my own brand of products, purchase my own house, and open up my own shop, Golden Touch Barber Studio, in Wall, New Jersey, in January 2023,” she added. “I attribute a lot of my abilities and my confidence to achieve these milestones to my experience in the MCVSD cosmetology program. It was critical to my success as a barber today, and I’m grateful for everything I learned while I was there.”