Initiatives taken for empowering women in community colleges

Humna Sharif

Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of AAWCC/Parkland College

Photo courtesy of AAWCC/Parkland College

The American Association for Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC) has had a chapter here at Parkland College since 2001, and has been awarding scholarships to Parkland students since the year 2008. The remarkable thing about AAWCC at Parkland is that the money awarded as scholarships is raised by the organization itself.

Every two years women are awarded a scholarship of 500 dollars each for the academic year. AAWCC usually begins accepting applications during the months of March and May, and any female student who has earned six Parkland College credit hours and a GPA of 3.0 is eligible to apply. Parkland College AAWCC is dedicated to encouraging professional development and supporting community college women in leadership roles.

Regional Director of AAWCC, Lori Wendt, has been working with the AAWCC at Parkland since its inception in 2001. She said that the criterion for awarding the scholarship is not based on financial need only.

“We try to involve people with the associations. A person may come across as very impressive on a paper application but we like to meet the short listed candidates and interview them to determine the final recipients of scholarship,” Wendt said.
“The association tries to develop mentoring relationships with the recipients to encourage them to flex their abilities as women in education and so we look for that dynamic personality in the recipients and in the last three years we have had at least one recipient who has been extremely active within the organization itself and participated in the events we organize.” Wendt added. “We want to promote a society where women are empowered, and feel more connected with the college, so that they actually complete the program they are enrolled in.”
The scholarship money is awarded through financial aid and goes toward paying for tuition and other college expenses. After all college costs have been covered the remaining money is added to the financial aid refund. Financial Aid Advisor Haiti Eastin handles all the financial aspects of the scholarship. Applications from interested candidates are also submitted to her.
It costs 25 dollars to join the AAWCC at Parkland and that also makes students eligible for the national AAWCC scholarship.

Former Parkland student, Binh Le, was awarded both the Parkland College and National AAWCC scholarships.

“Winning the National Scholarship in AAWCC was such a big honor. Thanks to Lori Wendt—Region V Director of AAWCC, I was able to get the application for the national scholarship,” Le said. “I wrote a short essay about my Flag Football with Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society to raise awareness in Parkland about discrimination between men and women in sport. I named my event ‘Super Both’ instead of Super Bowl, because Men and Women are all super strong and amazing in sport.”

“In addition, I was judged on GPA, financial need, employment, and extracurricular activities. I had never thought that I could win over other ladies in Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. No words can describe how fantastic it was to know that I was one of the 10 recipients in the whole of United States,” Le continued.

Denise Lujan and Kendra Lee are this year’s scholarship recipients. They both expressed deep gratitude for the AAWCC organization at Parkland. They believe this scholarship differs from others in the sense that the organization members really want to get to know the students and involve them. This they believe has helped them in focusing on their goals and goes a long way to encourage women and promote their empowerment.

Fundraisers for scholarship money are held by AAWCC several times throughout the academic year. This year the AAWCC is hosting a trivia night on Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, from 7:00-10:00 p.m. in the W Wing of Parkland College.

Tanino Minneci, Student Development Advocate for the Center of Academic Success will be the one hosting the trivia. Wendt and Minneci, along with Sarah Meiliki, have been working closely to put into action the trivia night and to make sure that everyone in attendance has a good time.

The trivia will consist of about five categories with ten questions apiece. The trivia categories could be as diverse as chocolate and American geography, or ancient history and plant sciences. Since Halloween is coming up the event hosted will be themed around that.

Teams of two to four people are allowed, and there will be prizes for the winning team and a prize for the runner up team as well. Wendt and Minneci advise that while picking teams, it’s better if students from different fields come together. A team with a student who knows about political history, another who knows about geography, one with a background in science, and someone who knows about music has much better odds of winning.

The cost of participation is ten dollars per person, if you book in advance, and 15 dollars at the door. All the money raised will go towards the scholarship fund.

For more information about the trivia contact Lori Wendt or Tanino Minneci in the D Wing of Parkland College, room D112 and Center for Academic Success respectively.