Criminal Justice Corrections students shave heads to support fellow cadet
Thomas Narajo was only a couple of months into his Criminal Justice Corrections program on the Fresno campus when he had to suspend his career training to undergo chemotherapy treatment. But those two months were long enough for him and his fellow cadets to form a family.
Team spirit runs deep within the Criminal Justice Corrections program. “The mentality that you have to go into criminal justice is that the department is your second family, and you do anything you can to support them,” says Brian Gibbs, Criminal Justice Corrections Program Director.
When Criminal Justice Corrections cadet Jeremy Cuthbert heard that the chemotherapy caused Thomas to lose his hair, he organized an action of solidarity: a Cadet/Student Head-Shave.
Jeremy got approval from his instructor Michael Head to go forward and then coordinated a day and time with Thomas, who would be the man behind the clippers. A room was reserved on the campus, and recruitment for volunteers began.
Thomas was excited that his classmates were putting this effort together, but was not completely surprised. “I was happy to see fellow cadets participate in the head-shaving event that was held at the school, but I wasn’t surprised at all, actually,” he says. Criminal Justice Corrections cadets had been there for him all along.
“During my hospital stay, I had multiple students and instructors visit me to keep me company, make sure I was well and had things to keep me busy and preoccupied with everything that was going on,” says Thomas. “Having that kind of support from everyone was a great sight and even better feeling!”
Word got around, and nine students and one instructor showed up on November 9th to demonstrate their support for one of their own.
Jeremy was first in a line that included several female students and Criminal Justice Corrections cadets, who went for a modified shave that took a couple of inches from the nape of their necks. “I do believe that I was the first person who ever received a haircut from him,” says Jeremy. “He pretty much sheared us like we were sheep. He was cracking jokes the whole time.”
Fun with clippers aside, Thomas took the gesture from his fellow cadets, students and instructor very seriously. “He came in full uniform, with a positive attitude and great smile,” says Criminal Justice Corrections Class Captain Gloria Lopez. “But, he was ready to shave everybody’s hair off; he had no problem doing it,” she laughs. “He was really excited knowing he had support from the girls, too, not just the guys,” says Gloria, who is pretty pleased with her new look.
“It was just great to show him we’re all here for him, even though we’re not there with him every day,” says Jasmin Magana, Criminal Justice Corrections Class Lieutenant. “He’s a really good guy. We’re brothers and sisters.”
Thomas couldn’t resist teasing Jasmin (Magana), who has a mass of curly hair, by positioning the clippers up much higher on her head to threaten a more dramatic cut. “I knew he knew what he was going to do, and I trusted him,” she says.
Fellow cadet Jasmin Canada didn’t hesitate to show her support for Thomas by letting him perfect his barber skills on her. “I was all in and decided immediately,” she says. “Just to make him happy and for him to know that everyone was with him made me feel great. And, his reaction when he shaved my hair off!”
“The show of support by fellow cadets and other staff and students meant a lot to me,” says Thomas. “The demonstration of support really shows the cohesiveness of the body as a whole and embodies the value of family. I am able to embrace the support as I go through treatments, making me that much stronger as I continue my battle. A truly wonderful feeling!”
During his clipper-and-scissor venture, Thomas’ skill level improved as he made his way through the line of supporters. Jeremy paid the price for being his first customer. “He might have missed some spots; I have some long hairs here and there, but he didn’t leave any patches,” says Jeremy. “I think knowing he had our support really made him happy.”
“I was very honored to do this for him,” says Magana. “Once we started our program, we all got closer and closer, like a family. We’re brothers and sisters.”
Thomas was a stand-out student from the get-go. “He was in the military, so he took a leadership role right away,” says Gibbs. “In the academy, there is a lot of military structure, marching, physical education and exercises, and it gave him an advantage and made him a natural mentor to other classmates.”
Thomas hopes to return to the Criminal Justice Corrections program, and his SJVC family will be there to welcome him home.
“I can’t wait to get back to the books,” says Thomas.
Those who supported Thomas and sported a new look after demonstrating their solidarity include: Mr. Jody Mills, general education instructor, Leilana Cardena, general education student, Tina Yang, general education student, and Criminal Justice Corrections cadets Daniel Briceno, Jasmin Canada, Christopher Chavez, Jeremy Cuthbert, Adamary Diaz, Jasmin Magana and Gloria Lopez.
Thomas has set up a GoFundMe link for those who might wish to further support him.
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