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Meet Emmanuella Duroska of The Curly Code

Today we’d like to introduce you to Emmanuella Duroska.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
On this path as a College Educator, I saw that students lacked what I had been given. Growing up, I was constantly surrounded by examples that looked like me. I never questioned the alignment of academic excellence, self-care and self-acceptance. As a Haitian immigrant and child to a single parent who barely spoke English, my mother worked exclusively with professionals that spoke our native tongue. Growing up in Brooklyn, I encountered Haitian doctors, accountants, business owners, pastors, hairstylist and the list goes on. So for me, the sky was truly the limit because I was surrounded by successful people who looked like me. My students lacked that and nothing made that more clear than when I went natural. As a college access educator, I was met with curiosity about how I managed what seemed like a “foreign” mane. I quickly realized the need for a natural hair community committed to college competitiveness within my predominantly melanted high school.

The Curly Code (TCC) aims to solve two problems that plague young women of color. TCC is a chapter-based organization that is located in Brooklyn but has plans to celebrate the beauty of natural hair in all five boroughs. Through monthly programming The Curly Crew learns maintenance and styling techniques, they are also introduced to new brands. We host quarterly initiatives to acknowledge students with really stellar grades while encouraging students who are striving for academic excellence. Camp Curly Code is a 5-day natural hair and college admissions intensive camp, where students are immersed in a curriculum that equips them to create a beauty regimen to maintain their hair and give them the tools and resources they need to become an informed consumer of higher education. Most recently, we launched an SAT prep course that fused together SAT test-taking strategies and building a natural hair toolkit that is unique to your hair type. Build-A-Bag: SAT Prep Edition allows students to use their right answers as currency to “purchase” natural hair products. The swag bag is the visual representation of the college “bag” (financial aid package) students can secure with competitive test scores. TCC is the catalyst for change here in NYC to highlight that black is both brilliant and beautiful.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Creating such a niche programming module that targets only a small subset of students has posed its challenges. Even the most supportive of educators isolate our organization to just natural hair care and we are working diligently to make our mark as an urban beauty and brains brand without prioritizing one aspect over the other. We are not just another natural hair club nor are we an academic club we are both at the same time, always and forever. Our name encompasses both our missions. The Curly, representing hair, of all textures and code is the “cheat code” using competitive academic profiles to secure generous financial aid packages from competitive colleges.

And although all high school administrators share collegiate goals for students of color, they struggle to understand the link between college admissions and natural hair. We serve the more nuanced day to day aspect of the college-going culture, they wake up in the morning with the confidence to be able to take academic risks in class because you are not focusing on your hair. The culture that is created when students understand that natural hair is unique and they begin to rally around each other in the support of each person’s journey. It’s been hard to pitch especially to administrators that do not share a point of resonance with the students they serve.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Curly Code – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Monthly Programming – The Curly Code’s three-pronged approach is what sets our organization apart. The Curly Code has a series of events that take place monthly. Workshops, discussions and demo lessons on how to style and maintain natural hair. For the first three high schools, the Executive Director will execute all programming with the help of student ambassadors that will serve as members of the executive board for their school’s chapter of The Curly Code. Part-time program managers will be hired to work with up to 3 schools apiece, the hope is that we secure contracts with schools that are already co-located to make this plan even more feasible. It will also allow for joint programming across high schools.

Beauty Brand Sponsorship
The Curly Code will secure sponsors by emphasizing a symbiotic relationship. Students will be exposed to new beauty brands that will aid in their curation of a healthy hair regimen. Simultaneously, sponsors will benefit from the surveys students will take about the products to provide brands with the market research they need to grow their audience.

Camp Curly Code: Where Curls & College Collide
This 20-hour intensive program is tailored to mildly competitive applicants with the hope that this information will be the catalyst they need to become informed consumers of higher education. This program runs for a week and serves up to 20 students per session. During the camp, students learn about the ever-changing complexities of the college admissions landscape. They also learn about the science behind natural hair and use that knowledge to create their own beauty regimens. Campers are tracked throughout the year and have quarterly meetings discussing their academic goals and make plans to overcome barriers to their academic success.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We are launching our 2nd year of Camp Curly Code, and after professional development for college access and natural hair education, this year will be bigger and better!

Pricing:

  • Camp Curly Code Serves 20 students 20 hours (4 hrs 5 days) one week between June – Sept Investment $4999
  • The Curly Code Quarterly Curriculum Programming 4x per school year serving 30 students per event Investment $3599
  • The Curly Code Monthly Curriculum 10 events per school year serving 30 students per event Investment $9999
  • Superscore SAT Prep Session Serving up to 16 Students per session 2 hour long session Investment $800 per session

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photos were taken by Just Seau You Know Productions http://www.justseauyouknow.com/

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