Tidewater Community College President Edna Baehre-Kolovani opened the morning welcoming special guests who included Kenneth Wright, mayor of Portsmouth; Elizabeth Psimas, Portsmouth councilwoman; Theresa Whibley, Norfolk councilwoman; Angelia Williams, vice mayor of Norfolk; and Shannon Kendrick, congressional district director for Rep. Scott Rigell.
“The Women’s Center continues to serve students through its unique and specialized services that educate, empower, enhance and engage them,” Baehre-Kolovani noted.
During the 2013-14 school year, the Women’s Center served 2,140 students with academic, career and personal support, and 2,862 students participated in educational programs and offerings. Sixty-three students received more than $12,000 of donated emergency assistance funds determined to be critical by Women’s Center staff for the retention of these students. The Women’s Center successfully piloted a “virtual food pantry,” helping 45 students in need with dining expenses by putting $25 on student ID cards.
“These funds, while considerably small, make the difference to student success as they eliminate barriers,” said Catherine Wass, chair of Network for Empowering Women Students (N.E.W.S.), which offers career coaching from professional mentors in Hampton Roads to TCC students. “Their innovative systems, like the virtual food pantry, cannot be recognized enough.”
Wass thanked champion Women’s Center sponsor Dominion Virginia Power for its continued support. Because of the assistance of Dominion Virginia Power and sponsors Pender & Coward, Pilot Media, Dollar Tree, Prevailance, Inc., and Noah Enterprises, Inc., N.E.W.S. has raised more than $16,000 to support the Women’s Center’s mission in the 2014-15 academic year.
“Dominion Virginia Power shares your commitment to educational excellence,” said Bonita Harris, manager of media and community relations for Dominion. “It’s our privilege to support this event.”
Keynote speaker Barbara Hamm Lee, host of WHRO’s “Another View,” encouraged those in attendance to engage in lifelong learning and give back to their communities. Hamm Lee shared her story of adapting to various life and career changes to reach professional success.
“Engage with family,” she said. “Family comes first. Engage with your community. No matter how busy you are, you still have time to give back. Find your passion. Give your time. Give your talent.”
Ivory Warren, head of TCC’s human services program and an active member of N.E.W.S., presented the Dr. Alexsandria Manrov STEM awards to students Melissa Falvy, Stacy Kelley and Crystal Lorenz. Named after the TCC biology professor, the awards were made possible by a gift to the Women’s Center. They recognize the academic achievements of female students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
Falvy, graduating this week, plans to transfer to Virginia Tech this fall and work toward her bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. Kelley, who holds a 4.0 GPA, will graduate from TCC in December and plans to become a marine biologist. Lorenz, who will also graduate from TCC in December, plans a career in computer science. Engineering student Lililya Zeigler also received the Manrov award, but was not in attendance.
Student Melanie Matthews received the Mary Pat Liggio Award, named after the founding coordinator of the Women’s Center. Matthews is a member of the Women’s Center’s Women Inspiring Self-Empowerment Leadership Development Program, Phi Theta Kappa and secretary of the Human Services club. Matthews is an intern at the Help and Rescue Shelter in Portsmouth and recently organized a group of teenagers from the Southside Boys and Girls Club to tour the Norfolk Campus.
“TCC taught me how to dream big,” Matthews said. “My school logo is ‘From here, go anywhere,’ and I plan to do just that.”
Matthews will transfer to Norfolk State University to work toward her bachelor’s in social work.