YALLAHS, St Thomas – For the past two years, make-up artist Mercedes Shepherd has balanced being a full-time entrepreneur and a full-time student.
The St Thomas native, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication arts and technology, specialising in journalism, at the University of Technology (UTech), Jamaica, regularly schedules her classes so she can fulfill appointments with her clients.
Although she finds it challenging, Shepherd is one of many tertiary students who use entrepreneurship to assist with funding their education. “Although I love make-up, it wasn’t the only field I wanted to venture in.
I have a deep passion for advertising as well as journalism and decided to pursue my passion because I believe this degree will complement my job, because I will be applying the skills and concepts I learnt in dealing with my clients,” she explained.
Mercedes Shepherd developed an interest in make-up after being unable to afford to have hers done for her high-school graduation. She got a chance to pursue her passion after winning a competition, which gave her a scholarship to pursue a short course in make-up at Excelsior Community College.
“What made me love the actual art and field of make-up was after doing my first set of clients and seeing the confidence they got after getting their make-up done,” she said.
Mercedes Shepherd has managed to balance work and school full-time, and uses the income to cover her expenses for school.
“When selecting classes, As a student entrepreneur, I try to ensure I am free on the days which my clients schedule appointments, or I try to have only one class. Sometimes I have to travel with my bags to go to work after class. It is rewarding being able to help to fund my way through school, because it means my parents only sometimes have to assist with the rent,” she added.
“Based on the funds that I’ve earned, it is normally enough to cover my entire tuition fee for the year. However, due to other expenses, such as transportation, food and sometimes rent, I can only pay about half of it.
In my first year, I got a student loan to assist me, and in my second year, I got a grant to cover the balance. If it wasn’t for me being a make-up artist, it would have been even more challenging,” she explained.
Change of Plans of a Student Entrepreneur
This year, Shepherd had planned to enrol in the work and travel programme to assist with her tuition. However, owing to the coronavirus pandemic, she has had to change her plans.
“COVID-19 has impacted me in more ways than one, as my appointments declined. I went from having 15 clients on a good day to sometimes none. It is only now beginning to increase because the Government has been easing restrictions. To fund the balance of my tuition, I hope to get a grant or scholarship because my grade point average has been improving,” she explained.
Romaine Bartley, an electrical and computer engineering and student entrepreneur student at UTech, recently established a graphic design business online to earn an income to assist with funding his education.
“I started after doing some research and signing up to a website,” he explained. “In my first year I self-funded, and used student loan in my second year. With the work and travel programme suspended as a result of COVID-19, I started to explore my options. It was something I was thinking about for some time, and the pandemic gave me the push I needed,” Bartley explained.
Although new to entrepreneurship and attending school full-time, Bartley is already planning ahead.
“I may have to reduce the number of courses I do come September and complete the remainder during the summer, because there has been some demand for my services,” the Manchester High School graduate explained. “I know I will have to have good time management because I don’t want my grade point average to fall,” he stated.
Kimberly Atkinson, communication and client services manager, JN Small Business Loans, said entrepreneurship is a viable option for young people.
“Numerous studies have suggested that many young persons are willing to become entrepreneurs, because it provides them with the genuine option to earn a better income, resulting in greater independence, and keep them above the poverty level,” she said.
“The benefits of entrepreneurship are exponential and I commend the students who use it as an avenue to raise funds for their education. I wish them all the best in their studies and business ventures,” she added.
For the student entrepreneur Shepherd, budgeting is essential in funding her tuition. “If doing your business and saving for school requires you to minimise certain leisure activities, you shouldn’t hesitate, because you also have to consider what’s best. Also, budgeting is important, and analysing your monthly expenses helps you to make better choices, and as always, try as best to save more and spend less,” she advised.
Source: The Jamaica Gleaner