How GTCC Cosmetology chair found his future

Morris Boswell

Morris Boswell, department chair, Cosmetology.

Cosmetology Department Chair Morris “Boz” Boswell never envisioned himself in the cosmetology industry.

But one step into a salon 38 years ago changed his destiny.

On a Thursday afternoon, he walked into a Greensboro salon to meet some friends for lunch. At the time, Boswell was taking a semester off from UNCG, where he was studying to be an art teacher until his student-teaching experience made him realize it wasn’t the right fit for him. But in this salon, Boswell found his future.

While he waited for his friends, he watched as the stylists colored hair, shaped angles and sculpted designs all with a few snips of their shears. This is where Boswell discovered the art of hair and experienced his “a-ha” moment.

“After lunch, my friends took me by the beauty school they attended, Leon’s, and I talked to Mrs. Leon. That following Tuesday morning, I’m sitting in beauty school saying, ‘What am I doing here?’” he says with a laugh. “Three weeks later, I realized why I was there: because I developed a passion for it.”

Boswell’s love and knowledge of art translated well to cosmetology. All he did was change canvases – and tools. “My paintbrushes turned into my shears,” he says. “I truly fell in love with the craft.”

Cosmetology also brought joy to Boswell’s life and to his clients.

“I also fell in love with the feeling I would get when I would turn the client to the mirror and I would see their look of satisfaction. I would see joy, I would see their self-esteem lifted,” he said. “When you work, you want to feel like you’re making a difference and your job is valued, and it gave me all of those things. And that was so exciting.”


After graduating from Leon’s, Boswell, a Burlington, N.C. native, went on to have a prolific career in cosmetology. He worked for Leon’s and Regis Salon and then returned to school to complete his bachelor’s degree in art design at N.C. A&T University. Between classes, he would cut hair at the university’s student union.

But he became a true fixture in the cosmetology industry in the 1980’s when he opened his salon, Boz & Co. Hair Design Studio, which he ran for 17 years in Greensboro. During that time, he became a member of GTCC’s cosmetology advisory board, where he and other local cosmetologists advised the college on improvements to the curriculum and what skills were lacking in the industry.

“After being on the advisory board for several years, I knew in the back of my head at some point in my career I wanted to teach at GTCC,” Boswell said.

But the opportunity came sooner than Boswell had imagined. When the position of cosmetology department chair opened at GTCC, Boswell saw it as an opportunity he couldn’t turn down and accepted the job in fall 2001.

“You go into teaching because you love the craft and you want to share it with the students,” said Boswell, who also is serving in his 10th year on the North Carolina State Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners. “I love what I do. When I became a cosmetologist, I would get my fulfillment from having satisfied clients. Now, I get my fulfillment from having a part in so many students’ lives and helping them develop skills that will take them throughout life and this career.”

After one year, Boswell eventually sold his salon and devoted himself fully to teaching, realizing he could have a greater impact developing skills in future cosmetologists.

“One thing that just makes me so ecstatic is when I see the light bulb go on, when I see a student actually get it,” he said. “It’s so rewarding to know you’ve had a part in molding that young professional.”


Cosmetology is one of the most popular – and competitive – programs at GTCC. The limited enrollment program accepts 20 students each semester. And spots fill up fast. The reason?

“The quality of education the students receive,” Boswell says. “They are salon-ready to enter the workplace once they graduate. They have the cosmetology skills, life skills and discipline. We prepare them for the real world.”

And it shows. Each year GTCC’s cosmetology students compete at SkillsUSA, a state and national contest in which students demonstrate their trade and technical skills, and typically place in the top 5 percent. The program boasts a 100 percent pass rate on the students’ state board exam and many go on to become salon owners. It’s definitely something to be proud of.

“The education you get at this community college is just awesome,” Boswell said. “And I can honestly say, every morning I get up, I look forward to work.. That’s why we do what we do. We are here for the students.”


— Photos and story by Carla Kucinski/GTCC

Published spring 2015