Vance Granville Community College’s Campus Action Project Grant: An Educated Woman, an Educated Future

Kate Leser stands with two women, one wearing a red fabric swatch over her outfit.

Speaker Kate Leser (left) shows participants what color palette looks best for job interviews.

April 15, 2014

Every year AAUW releases a research report on the state of women and girls. And with that report, we award up to $50,000 to colleges and universities through Campus Action Project Grants to put that research into action. This year, the projects are based on Women in Community Colleges: Access to Success, which details ways to improve the community college experience for women by supporting student parents, increasing the number of women studying nontraditional subjects, and encouraging graduation or transfer to a four-year school.

One of the grantees, Vance-Granville Community College (VGCC), is located in the rural and impoverished neighborhood of Henderson, North Carolina, and attracts women in their 40s who are returning to school. VGCC’s project, “An Educated Woman, an Educated Future” is composed of three workshops aimed at providing their nontraditional students with the skills to transfer to a four-year institution.

When VGCC proposed their project, they set a high goal of 100 attendees for each workshop. They opened registration and, within a day, had more than 50 registrants for the first workshop. They closed registration for that workshop after 125 attendees had signed up. Thanks to an uncharacteristically snowy winter, they had to reschedule the workshop and worried that no one would attend. To the surprise of project adviser Jackie Heath, there were not only registered students but also residents of the neighborhood who were not registered waiting to see if they could get into a session on setting goals for getting a four-year degree.

At the rescheduled first workshop, participants were overjoyed at their opportunity to hear from Angel Wright-Lanier, assistant city manager for Goldsboro, North Carolina, and a former top city official in Raleigh. Wright-Lanier provided insight as a community college graduate and nontraditional student on how she found motivation to continue on her educational path. In the workshop, participants split up into small groups to discuss the struggles they faced and developed action plans on how to overcome the challenges. Wright-Lanier, alongside administrators, helped groups debrief and provided tips. The takeaway message from Wright-Lanier was, “If I could reach my dreams, you can as well. Despite the odds against me, I made it.” The event was declared a success, and the school paper picked it up.

Read more about Campus Action Project grants.

On March 5, VGCC hosted the second workshop, “Self Care: Time Management, Health, Fitness, and Professional Appearance.” For this workshop, they once again had an amazing turnout and provided participants the opportunity to hear from two speakers, Kate Leser and Maria Hardesty. Leser is the president and owner of the Makeover Expert. She spoke of the importance of the “visual resume,” along with finding confidence in oneself and incorporating it into professional life. During Leser’s breakout session, she provided tips on dressing for one’s body and how to present oneself during interviews.

Maria Hardesty is the wellness and fitness director at the Henderson Family YMCA. A trained social worker focusing on counseling and therapeutic intervention, Hardesty spoke of self-care through wellness and fitness. She focused her message on family care and tips for conscious living. During her breakout session, participants discussed maintaining healthy eating habits amid the stressors of student life.

The third workshop is scheduled for May. VGCC is providing students the opportunity to advance in their educational careers to provide a better future. Additionally, they are providing a service to their community. Want to learn how to implement the findings from the community college report on your campus? Read what 10 other schools are doing.

By:   |   April 15, 2014